A quick guide to better HSPU

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 - 13:53
With only two events remaining in the 2017 CrossFit Open it is very likely that we will see Handstand Push Ups (HSPU) soon. For some of you this will be quite daunting. For the more experienced athlete, very efficient HSPU can be a separator.

There are two variants of the HSPU: strict and kipping. The following tips will help you establish prowess in both.

  • Establish a good base: strength & stability first

It is very important that we have strict movement in our gymnastics ability before we start adding dynamic momentum to the exercise. By having an adequate base of strength and quality movement patterns we ensures that the shoulders can handle kipping and that we are strong enough to control our movement rather than just dropping from the top of the movement.

If you do not have the strength to perform Strict HSPU yet, then various static holds and pressing drills will need to be progressively overloaded to obtain the required capacity. For example, progressively building the barbell strict press, dumbbell Z-press, hollow & arch positions plus plenty of handstand holds on the wall would form a good foundation for obtaining your first HSPU.

  • Tripod Position

Correct hand and head position at the bottom of the HSPU is often misunderstood. Your hands make the base of a triangle. Your head makes the top of the triangle. Don’t worry too much about how wide your hands are as long as you can see your hands while in the tripod position. Keep your forearms vertical, stacked on top of your wrists.

  • The Kip

Once you've progressed from Strict HSPU to Kipping HSPU there are a few keys that will make it fast and easier to get through higher volume of reps. First, think of the Kipping HSPU like a Push Press: you are using the moment from the hips to drive yourself up. The timing of the push from the arms needs to be synchronised with the drive (kip) of the hips. Set up about 30-35cm away from the wall in your tripod position. Bring your knees to your elbows and establish a flat back. Keep your head and eyes neutral (keep your gaze here as you complete your HSPU). Explosively drive your hips up as you simultaneously extend your arms into the handstand. While exploding your hips up, squeeze you chest through to been in a full lockout.

Start by implementing these tips and practice the progressions each time you see HSPU in a WOD. Remember, strict BEFORE kipping. We will have a follow up video with more cues on how to become more efficient with Cycling Kipping HSPU soon!


Coach Leigh

CrossFit | Strength & Conditioning | Personal Training

GW Performance

South Yarra