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Kick Up and Push it, Push it Real Good!


Kick Up and Push it, Push it Real Good!
Written by Melissa Hurley

Time to kick it! Besides the cartwheel, kicking upside down may be the most fun way to get inverted. I hope that you have all mastered the hollow body and active shoulders we discussed in Week One of “Being Upside Down” and gotten more comfortable being upside down by practicing your wall climbs and headstands. Let’s move on to the quick and versatile kick-up.

The Kick-Up

Begin with the wall kick-up so you have the wall to catch your feet. Stand tall with your arms next to your ears and make sure to keep them extended! Take a big step into a big lunge, hinge at the hips lowering your chest, keeping that back as flat as possible, and reach for the ground in front of you. Hands should  be placed on the ground, shoulder width apart, with the fingers spread and index fingers pointed straight forward. Keep that body in a tight, hollow body position with the ears glued to the shoulders. Drive the back leg over your head as you gently press off the ground with your leading leg. You aren’t throwing yourself to the ground; it should be a controlled movement. Maintain that hollow body as you push away from the ground, keeping your feet together, your butt tight, belly tight, and actively pushing against the ground. Tada! Yay, you’re upside down now and feeling strong! Progress by giving yourself a specific amount of time to stay inverted, maintaining a neutral spine and stable midline/core. Once you feel yourself relax from that tight position, kick off the wall.

Handstand Push-Up Negatives

Negatives can be very challenging and a great way to build strength for anyone. Kick up into your handstand position (as described above). Ensure that your hand placement is approximately 6-12 inches away from the wall and your midline/core is in a tight, stable position. Keep your body in a hollow body position with the ears glued to the shoulders. Descend by sending shoulders (and head) towards the wall while keeping lower arm vertical. Lower as slow and steady as possible until the head touches the floor. Make sure to control the descent throughout the entire movement. The tempo should be the same from the start of the negative to the end of the negative. The head and hands at the bottom of the push-up should form a triangle shape on the ground – your tripod position. Kick off the wall and reset. If hesitant about the distance, place an abmat underneath the head to shorten the distance of the descent. With more confidence, remove the abmat(s) until reaching the full range of motion. To increase difficulty once you are able to lower controlled to the ground, try deficit negatives by placing your hands on 25# or 45# plates and lowering your head between them (lower than your hands).

Assisted Strict Handstand Push-Up

You’ve been practicing your negatives and now you want to feel the push. Having a partner assist you is the next great step to progressing forward in your handstand push-ups. Have your partner hold onto your ankles and lower slowly to the ground till your head hits, mimicking your negatives. On cue together, press yourself up while your partner assists you during the press up phase. Your partner should only give as much assistance as needed for you to press out of the handstand.

Strict Handstand Push-Up Against A Wall

On to the desired skill completion, your very own strict handstand push-up. Not much changes from your earlier progressions and set-up, except now once your head touches the floor, press up with the same tightness you had lowering yourself, until your elbows reach full extension.

Increase Difficulty in the Strict Handstand Push-up

“Been there done that,” you say? You’ve got a couple options to make it a tad more challenging. First start by working on a wall facing strict handstand push-up. Same points of performance are necessary; the shift from facing away from the wall to facing the wall forces your body to have a better hollow body position, since you can’t arch. Your chest will be facing toward the wall and only toes resting against the wall by pointing the toes. Descend by sending shoulders (and head), away from the wall, while keeping lower arm vertical. Make sure your head and hands form a triangle shape on the ground at the bottom of the push up. Push back up to your handstand while maintaining hollow body position during the entire movement. Toes ideally slide up and down the wall and should never lose contact.


Got it, feeling good? Increase your depth with adding a deficit or using parallel bars.

It’s super fun to get upside down with a solid, controlled kick up onto your hands. Being able to stay controlled in this skill will progress you into freestanding and handstand walking much easier, so don’t rush the kick up. Same goes for strict handstand push-ups, it looks cool to kip and it makes it easier, but pounding your spine repeatedly isn’t so fun. You’ll only get that much better at the kipping handstand push-up after building your strength. Put time into controlling the negative and even increasing the range of motion with deficit. Don’t limit yourself – build yourself!

Published on Friday, October 17, 2014 | 2 Comments

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