Saturday, February 27, 2010

Training the Handstand Push-up

I’m going to start with two caveats… First, this is not my training regimen. It was given to me, as I am passing on to you (Thanks to Jennifer Roberts!!!). Second, I am not an expert at this. This is just what has worked for me. It may or may not work for you.

When I knew I needed to learn how to do a hspu, my biggest fear was not the push-up itself, but being upside down. How would I get in that position? How would I handle it? What if I passed out? These were honest concerns that I had. I had some people that helped me get over that fear so that I could actually work on the hspu itself, without working on the fear.

Once over the fear, the training of the hspu was very exact and easy to follow. I had a goal of being able to do 5 consecutive hspus in a row, in 6 weeks. 6 weeks is in about 10 days or so, and I think I will achieve it. So, here it is…

Train the hspu every other day, alternating between the following WOs:

Workout 1
Handstand holds
: Go into a handstand position against the wall and hold it for a 1 minute interval. Repeat 5 times. Rest as needed in between holds (but not all day – usually no more than a few minutes – it is a workout…). If you can’t do a minute, do as long as you possibly can for each interval, increasing the amount of time you are able to hold until you can hold for a minute.

These are tough. It is difficult to hold for a minute. Engage your core, engage your shoulders. Press it up – hard. Do not collapse through the spine. Core engagement is important as it stabilizes your spine and makes your shoulders work less.

Workout 2
Handstand negatives: These are strength building movements. They are done in 5 sets of 5, or 5X5. Go up into a handstand position against the wall and slowly lower yourself to the ground (you may want to do this on a rug or blanket). As soon as you get to the ground, kick back up to the handstand position and do it again, until you have done 5 reps. Complete 5 sets of 5 reps, resting as needed between sets. Remember, it is a strength building exercise. You rest as you would if it were back squats, push presses, or any other strength WO you might be doing (not hours of rest, but minutes).

The focus here is lowering yourself as slowly as possible and in a controlled manner. If it is difficult to lower yourself slowly all the way down (you’re banging your head on the ground too much), then start these with an ab mat, so the distance is less. Until you can perform without an ab mat.

In Addition
Each time I did one of the WOs above, I also did sets of hspus with an ab mat. I started out with one ab mat with a book under it, then went to just the ab mat, then a small book, then nothing. While the two exercises above are really great at building strength, I believe it is still important to work on the actual down-up movement. I usually did hspus after the above WOs, and did as many as I could, until I failed. Set, after set. Sometimes it would just be a few short sets, sometimes I could do a dozen reps, and then 8, then 5, then 2, then fail. It all depended on the other WOs I did throughout the week. If I did a lot of upper body/shoulder WOs with heavy weights, then I would struggle with the hspus. Some days the hspus felt great, sometimes they were really difficult. Good days and bad days… All good for training.

Training for Consecutives
To get my consecutive hspus, I just did singles and work on stringing them together, until failure. I did 3 in a row a week ago. When I start failing with the unassisted hspus, I then do negatives, so I still receive the benefits and the strength training.

More Stuff
WODs are a bit different, as there are other factors at play. You are moving fast, doing multiple movements. Sometimes the strength cannot be found. Right now, during a WO, if hspus are present, I use 1 ab mat. A month ago I was using 2 ab mats and barely finishing. Now I use 1, and do a better job. Soon I will no longer need an ab mat.

Another benefit of training the hspu… greater shoulder strength for push presses. Yesterday I PRd my push press at 140. My 5 rep was 125, 3 rep was 135, and I was trying for 140 when I failed on my third rep. So I did 2 at 140#. I have been holding at 127# for push presses for months, and now, since training my hspus, I was able to push past this stagnant point, PRing the 5-rep, 3-rep, and 2-rep.

This is what has worked for me. You can see if it works for you. Or maybe you have something else that works? Let me know, either way…

1 comment:

Teresa said...

Great. Thanks. I will try this as I need to train myself to be able to do these!