Variations on Handstand Pushups:
Handstand push-ups, which are also called vertical push-ups or inverted push-ups, are a gymnastics movement that requires a lot of shoulder strength and stability. Additionally, core stability and strength, shoulder mobility, and pushing strength (triceps) are required in becoming efficient at handstand push-ups. Prior to training handstand push-ups, you must first develop pressing strength and shoulder stability. You must also become comfortable holding yourself inverted on the wall. The Maddox Method program emphasizes building the strength and learning how to perform strict handstand push-ups before learning the kip. This will help to prevent injuries from impact and compression on the neck/cervical spine. Below is a brief description on the points of performance of a strict handstand push-up
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- Hand placement: Hands should be placed 6-12 inches from the wall. The width of the hands will vary depending on the athlete’s height and arm length. Typically, the width of the hands should be a thumbs distance outside the chest and then lifted directly above the shoulders from there. CrossFit standards do not allow an athlete’s hands to go outside a 34-inch wide box. Once inverted, the thumbs will be facing towards each other, and the fingers will be spread apart, facing towards the wall.
- The kick-up: Facing the wall, start with your hands straight up overhead with one leg out in front of the other. Step into the kick-up, reaching towards the ground, with straight arms, while kicking your heels up on the wall. This will be similar to doing a very controlled cartwheel and catching yourself inverted on the wall.
- Midline: Once you are inverted you need to make sure that you have a strong rigid midline. You should be in an inverted hollow position. The stomach should be tight with the rib cage down, and the hips should be forward with the glutes squeezed.
- The descent: While maintaining an inverted hollow position, lower yourself until the top of your head touches the ground. You should be in a tripod position, with your head in between your hands and the wall. This should look like a triangle with your head being the top of the triangle and your hands being the base of each side of the bottom of the triangle. Elbows will be at a 45-degree angle as you lower. Focus on keeping your elbows from flaring out.
- The press: Once the head touches the floor, press your head away from the ground, maintain a strong rigid midline and following the same path as the descent. Press all the way up until your arms are full extended and your head is in between your arms. At the top of the press-out you should be in an active shoulder position, with the body locked and rigid and the core tight (hollow position).
There are many different styles and variations for the handstand push-up. It is a great exercise to help develop shoulder strength and stability. The Maddox Method firmly believes that it is important to develop the strength to be able to perform a strict handstand push-up before learning how to kip. This will ensure that you have the strength to control the descent during high-volume handstand push-ups where a kip can be beneficial.
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The handstand push-up is a great exercise for developing upper body strength and stability, as well as core stability. Here are some different variations of handstand push-ups that you may see in our program. No matter what variation you are performing, keep in mind the points of performance of the foundational movement of the strict handstand push-up. Focusing on the foundation and fundamentals will help prevent you from breaking down or becoming injured when performing high volume or more advanced handstand push-up movements.