Handstand Push-Up Variations

ByCrossFitJanuary 1, 2020

CrossFit trainers are skilled in the art of making many difficult movements accessible for the beginner. A good trainer will guide new athletes through a progression, celebrating the small victories along the way. For example, the trainer may start an athlete with a full range of motion push-up, then progress to a dip, then pike push-ups on a box, then finally moving to the wall. This process may take years.

A great trainer will understand this process is not just for the beginner and continue this system with intermediate and advanced athletes. An athlete who is comfortable with strict handstand push-ups can be challenged to perform them from a deficit, with their chest against the wall, or freestanding.

To learn more about human movement and the CrossFit methodology, visit CrossFit Training.


Comments on Handstand Push-Up Variations


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Greg Glassman
January 4th, 2020 at 11:36 pm
Commented on: Handstand Push-Up Variations

Hard for me to get excited about these variations outside of scaling in WOD's perhaps. My suggestion would be to practice the press -to-handstand progressions in the negative, striving to lower as slowly as possible until the positive (the press to handstand) is possible. I'd recommend working through the hierarchy of presses in exactly this manner. In addition, I'd press dumbbells overhead regularly. Less frequently I'd go overhead with barbells. This will get you handstand push-ups, in all variations, quickest. Add an increased commitment to a bigger deadlift to this approach and we are on our way to improved O-lifts.

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Greg Glassman
January 6th, 2020 at 5:48 pm

Let me offer this gem: there's no better way to get strong overhead with a barbell than regular training overhead with dumbbells.

I learned this, over 40 years ago, as a ring man who was "encouraged" and sometimes forced to compete on parallel bars. All the strength stuff was really, really, really easy. The physical analogy offering that rings are to parallel bars as dumbbells are to a barbell is rock-solid. If it doesn't make sense, think harder.

All through the kettlebell fad, I was longing for a champion of the dumbbells exhibiting the chauvinism (sensible or not) for kettlebells that many of its champions proffered on the reg. Where is the Pavel Tsatsouline, the Steve Cotter, of the dumbbells? The world's fitness could be substantially/potentially advanced when he or she is found or created. Anyone?

Ring work and dumbbells take me further than ring work and barbells.

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Eric Love
January 2nd, 2020 at 11:32 pm
Commented on: Handstand Push-Up Variations

Somebody make Hobart get back up there and demo Strict Deficit

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James Hobart
January 6th, 2020 at 1:20 pm


I have been far more "strict obsessed" in more recent years than I was when I first started CrossFit. I wish I had it the other way around, but I finally figured it out. It pays big dividends--In the words of Adrian Bozman: "Strict deficit handstand push-ups could grow deltoids on a pencil."

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Jason Catarino
January 2nd, 2020 at 4:31 pm
Commented on: Handstand Push-Up Variations

Deficit strict?

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Greg Glassman
January 2nd, 2020 at 10:27 pm


“Strict” as in don’t kip/kick/whatever, and “deficit” as in

below normal, which would be until the head hits if you didn’t use parallettes or stacks of books, etc., so “deficit

strict” would be using parallettes, going shoulders to hands, and not “kipping”.

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Greg Glassman
January 5th, 2020 at 12:00 am

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Greg Glassman
January 5th, 2020 at 12:04 am

Sorry, Jason, it initially escaped me that you were pointing out the odd exclusion of deficit-strict. I didn't realize that until I read Eric Love's post and looked at the video.

Thanks, guys. I'm with Eric. Let's get Hobart back up there and complete this.

And then there's freestanding-strict-deficit, no?

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