“Conscience whispers, but interest screams aloud.”  – J. Petit-Senn

Scaling The Handstand Pushup
Written By Christian Aguirre

Today’s WOD is Diane. A classic CrossFit Couplet that involves push and pull movements. Today we will go over the handstand pushup and ways to scale the movement.

The standard for the handstand push-up in today’s WOD is hands on the ground, no Abmat or if you look at the picture below 35# plates and 1 abmat. This is used if you need to cushion your head and also in competition settings. But the movement with or without the plates starts at a full extension in a handstand, touching the head to the ground in between your hands and back up to a full extension by pressing your body while upside down!

If you are comfortable being upside down and have some capacity and shoulder strength to perform the movement, but not enough to complete the full range of motion, you can scale with stacking plates and an Abmat to shorten the range of motion while maintaining the essence of the movement. Take note though, every workout you should aim to go lower and lower with the depth of your movement. (Picture below, no plates, 2 abmats)

Another option, if you are not comfortable being fully upside down or you do not have enough shoulder strength to support and press some of your weight down and up, a box can be used. If you notice, the movement starts at a full extension, head touches the bottom, and comes back to  a full lockout. The same range of motion as a hand stand push-up, with a little less of your bodyweight on the shoulders because the box takes a percentage of the load. The key here is to press through your shoulders like you would in a typical press with a barbell. Many mistake the movement as a regular pushup, but it is hardly that. (Picture below)

Alas! The final scale to a handstand pushup. Regular, good old-fashioned, push-ups. Take out the aspect of being upside down, for those of you who are handstand challenged 🙂 and you get the pushup. Straight body from head to toe, start at a full lockout, hit your chest to the floor, and back up. This may seem like a whole different movement, but it is the building block in which the handstand pushup is developed. If you can perform 21-15-9 perfect pushups, you should be able to do 1 or a scaled version of the handstand push-up. If not, don’t worry, its not the end of the world! We all have to start somewhere and if you are in this boat, keep it tight and focus on the movement.

If you would like to spend extra time diving into the movement, learning other options for scaling and progressions 30 minute privates can be set-up. E-mail me at Christian@crossfitproper.com for more information.


Coaches Mobility / Dynamic Range Of Motion Drills


12-9-6 reps of

Slow Deadlifts (5 count)
Partner Hamstrings Raises
Tripod Headstand
400m Run



21-15-9 reps of:
225 pound Deadlift
Handstand push-ups’

Laurie Galassi 2:53 (155lbs), Annie Sakamoto 3:31 (155lbs), Candice Ruiz 3:57 (185lbs).

WOD Demo with Jessica Estrada – video [wmv] [mov] [HD mov]

WOD Demo with Zach Forrest – video [wmv] [mov] [HD mov]

WOD Demo with CrossFit Iron City – video [wmv] [mov] [HD mo

WOD Demo with Laurie Galassi and Annie Sakamoto – video [wmv] [mov]

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