Handstand Push-Up Negatives Explained
Video by Travis Ewart

Invictus Athlete gymnastics coach Travis Ewart discusses and demonstrates Handstand Push-Up Negatives, both to a deficit and without a deficit.

Handstand Push-Ups can be somewhat dangerous if an athlete is unprepared physically to hold their own body weight while in an inverted position, as they may lose tension during the descent of the movement and drop to their head.  Injuries can cause temporary or long-term damage to the neck and spine, so before chucking your body upside-down against a wall, it’s probably good practice to test the waters before diving in head first.

Handstand Push-Up Negatives allow us to assess whether an athlete is physically prepared for inverted pressing movements. By adding an exaggerated slow tempo for the descent, we can also help athletes safely obtain more time under tension, and strengthen them in the correct positions. Although Handstand Push-Ups can vary with technique depending on mobility and strengths, it is imperative to repeat the same technique that mimics your goal movement. Thus, strengthening the proper positions through slower tempo sets has the added benefit of allowing us to ensure good positioning rather than allowing athletes to accumulate poor reps with compensatory patterns.

Handstand Push-Up Negatives aren’t just for building strength to learn your first Handstand Push-Up.  Advanced athletes should be doing Handstand Push-Up Negatives as well for body positioning, to build more strength to perform Handstand Push-Ups to Deficit, and they are a great finisher at the end of a hard work-out involving pressing with a barbell or dumbbells to get the last little bit of work that your shoulders and triceps can handle before calling it a day.

Most of all, Negatives should absolutely NOT finish holding a Headstand position. With Handstand Push-Up Negatives an athlete should be kicking quickly off the wall before any weight is applied to the head and neck. If you find that descending to the floor is still too far for your strength to handle, then add some foam mats under your head and descend until you feel the top of your head touch them (descending less) and kick down immediately.

Not everybody’s bodies are prepared well-enough for Handstand Push-Up Negatives. If your body weight is just too great for a safe movement, it is best to perform Strict Shoulder Press with a barbell or dumbbells until the necessary strength is achieved to allow a safe descent during the Handstand Push-Up Negative.

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