So let's break it down, go through some scaling options, and get comfortable turning our fitness on it's head!
Now let me start off with saying I am not a big fan of the kipping versions that we see all over the place just to get tons of reps in, so I am going to focus on the strict version. As with any movement, you MUST ensure you can get AT LEAST 10 reps of the strict movement before you move on to any kipping variation due to the strain on the connective tissues of the moving joint(s). If you try to learn kipping first, you'll put a ton of stress on your cervical spine since you haven't developed the strength yet to support yourself upside down. Add the compression and explosion upwards in the movement, and it can be a bit dangerous to try prior to getting a solid base of the strict movement pattern down.
The first thing we can do to make things easier and way less intimidating for a new athlete is to forget the wall all together, and scale by starting with a box or the floor. Both Floor and Box handstand push-ups are a great progression towards eventually graduating to the full movement on the wall, and don't take a ton of skill or inverted balance.
As with anything we do in the gym, form is still paramount over speed or weight lifted! So take your time and get it right.
To do a Box Hand Stand Push-up, place your feet or knees on the edge of the box, and walk your hands in so that your torso is as vertical as possible. Your head should be neutral and looking forward towards the box. To make things easier on the knees, we can place ab mats or pads on the box so that the knee isn't grinding into the wood. The floor version is very similar, just remove the box completely and start in a piked push-up position!
From there, lower down, touch your head to the floor and push back up. VIOLA! There you go- your first Hand Stand Push-up! Too hard still? You can scaling the movement by adding a mat under your head to reduce the range of motion, or walking your hands out a bit so that you aren't quite as vertical. This will shift some of the body weight off of the shoulders.
Still having trouble? Let's take it back even further and build you up slowly! A great drill to keep you working towards that strict HSPU is Seated Dumbbell Press. They're pretty simple, and allow you to use way less weight as a starting point. This will allow you to gradually work up that shoulder strength to support your body weight. To do a Seated Dumbbell Press, start by sitting on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you and slightly spread open. Grab a set of dumbbells that are a fairly challenging weight for you, and do strict overhead presses with them. Remember to keep your core tight, and lock the dumbbells out at the top. These can be done until your shoulders are strong enough to move to the next level.
A progression for this to make it a bit harder is to add negatives into the seated press. Once you lock out at the top, VERY SLOWLY lower the dumbbells back down to your shoulders (try counting 1, 2, 3 on the way down). This mimics the same movement as if you were upside down, lowering your head to the mat, and develops that exact same strength that you need for when you move to the box and on to the wall.
Once you are comfortable on the wall, it's time to try "Limited ROM" HSPU. For these, we use ab mats or pads under your head to reduce the range of motion as much or as little as you may need. At first, try starting with three pads, and then reducing the amount of pads based on your comfort and strength…. eventually working down to zero ab mats. There you go again! A full range of motion Hand Stand Push-up!
So when you see these in the workout, don't be daunted or freaked out! We have tons of ways to scale this great strength and balance building movement for you!
BECOME THE STRONGEST VERSION OF YOURSELF!
Owner/Certified Personal Trainer/CFL1
IYCA High School Strength and Conditioning Specialist
STRENGTH CAMP ACWORTH
3734 Cedarcrest Rd
Acworth GA 30101