Simplifying Your Handstand Push Ups

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The Handstand Push-up is a skill many consider can either to be daunting or too physically demanding.
It does not have to be.
Now assuming your progress in training has led you to accomplish a solid plank, push-ups,  and a relatively comfortable freestanding Handstand (all of which should be a prerequisite to starting a Handstand Push up regiment). Breaking down the movement itself, identifying the major components and the correlation with specific drills, should help you progress in the skill journey itself. Here are three components you can work on.

  • Breaking the shoulder line in the handstands (Handstand to planche) — The initial movement of the skill begins in shifting your shoulders forward with maximal protraction of your shoulders. As the neck is in slight extension and the spine and hips extended, aligning in one angular straight line, the first phase of the movement is done.

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  • Load the triceps — As the elbows start to bend and  (flexing) towards the back, loading up the triceps, be it on the parallettes or on the floor, the head will come into a tripod position with the arms being the farthest two points AWAY from the head.

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  • The press — as the head reaches the floor, ideally with the nose touching, the body is then ready to push back neutral to a vertically extended and fully elevated handstand.

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Now with the majority of the components covered, here are a few key points to consider as you solidify the Handstand Push-up progression :

  • Go back to the basics — focusing on your protraction of the shoulders (spreading them fully away from each other— in a plank and in the Handstand). Include scapular elevation work too, as it helps bring the handstand to full extension after coming down from the push up
  • Reviewing and solidifying your pike push ups – making sure your hands are shoulder width apart, ensuring the head is reaching to a full tripod form (head is reaching further forward than you think it is..), and adjusting the height of the pike from your legs to suit your level and intensity
  • Focus on your strength — Overhead pressing strength drills such as Overhead pressing with barbells and dumbbells especially with tempo work helps in increasing your overall capacity in the skill itself. Incorporating your shoulder protraction and elevation to mimic the Handstand with the pushing components. Additionally, include strength drills in the planche (shifting the shoulders forward), in the plank, elevated pike push ups and also the handstand itself are best to consider.

Reviewing all of the above, analyzing and reflecting on which components you can improve on will surely progress you further in fine tuning or even achieving the skill in the first place.
Train smart, and train strong.
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