Kipping Handstand Push-Ups: Tips for Competition
Video by Ricky Moore

You might have noticed that we don’t usually program kipping handstand push-ups in our programs at Invictus. This is because we care about your cervical spine and because you can get much stronger doing the strict version anyway. But with the Open on the horizon, it’s time to start practicing your technique with this movement.

We do not recommend you kip your handstand push-ups until you can safely complete at least 5 handstand push-up negatives @ 31A2 tempo where you are able to GENTLY touch your head to the ground (not crash down on it). This will ensure you have the strength and stamina to protect your spine when you get to kipping them for time.

If you know you need to get stronger with this movement – here are some tips and a plan for achieving your first strict reps of HSPU!

Tips for Kipping Handstand Push-Ups

There is a pretty good chance that handstand push-ups will come up in the Open this year – they almost always do. Start practicing your technique now so you don’t even have to think about it once you hear the workout announcement. Here are three tips to help you cycle through your sets of kipping HSPU in the Open, or any competition for that matter.

Hand Placement for Handstand Push-Ups

Practicing hand placement so you are in the perfect position for each rep is imperative in making sure you are able to come on and off the wall with speed and precision. It also helps you get into your ideal pressing position each set so that your reps feel easier and more comfortable.

Use this hand placement drill in your warm-ups to practice 5-10 preps per day leading up to the Open or any competition. In the video, Invictus Athlete gymnastics coach Travis Ewart demonstrates three different levels for kicking up to a handstand against a wall. Each version of the movement depends on your level of comfort with a handstand and the quality of your personal handstand. When in doubt, always default to the easiest version and work toward the more challenging versions of the movement to ensure safety, quality and a linear building of your confidence.

During the first (and easiest) version of the movement, you will place your hands approximately one foot away from the wall, kicking up immediately and trying to reach your rear foot over to tap the wall, keeping your feet in a split position.

The second version is slightly more difficult and your job is to kick the rear foot up to meet the wall, but this time stabilize yourself in a split handstand position. Once you are stable, bring the lead foot to the rear foot to meet at the wall. Descending from the wall should be a reverse replica of the movement when you kicked up.

The third and most advanced version of the handstand is to bring your feet together and meet prior to your feet touching the wall.

Foot Position for Handstand Push-Ups

A lot of times, we see athletes get ‘no-repped’ for their feet not touching the wall at the top of the rep or that they never quite make it to the wall with their feet and end up falling off without the rep counting.

Practice getting your feet to the wall so you don’t fall forward and making sure they touch in the right place will make sure none of your efforts go uncounted. To do this, first, find your perfect hand placement (with the drill above) and then perform reps by overexaggerating the leg drive. Rather than shooting them straight up to the ceiling, drive your heels toward the corner of the ceiling where the wall you are kipping against meets it. Of course, they won’t actually touch the ceiling but they will shoot back and stick to the wall – exactly what you want for each rep.

Finish Position for Handstand Push-Ups

Often times, when athletes get excited in competition and are trying to move as quickly as possible through their kipping HSPU sets, they forget to pause for a split second at the top of each rep. However, this is a movement standard in most competitions so that the judge has time to see the athlete’s arms locked out and the heels against the wall.

Practice a one-second hold at the top of each rep and how to get in a rhythm with that. After that first rep and pause, it is easier to use momentum and stay in rhythm if you use the top position (lockout) as your “reset” spot for each consecutive rep (instead of the bottom position where your head is on the floor).

Practicing these key techniques of the kipping handstand push-up will help make sure your reps are not only quick but that they count when it comes time to crush your competition!

How to Prepare for the 2020 CrossFit Open

Check out our variety of online programs – we offer complete Open prep for all athletes plus supplemental programs for gymnastics, weightlifting, strength, your engine, and more!


Invictus Athlete

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