There a couple of movements in the CrossFit tool kit that are essential, not only to CrossFit but healthy independent living. The squat, the deadlift, and some sort of push and pull are movements that come up for every single person, every single day. Maybe your only squat is getting down and up from the toilet, and your deadlift might just be your 2 year old, but you are going to get those hips and back working one way or another. There is another group of movements that we love in CrossFit that doesn’t have the obvious real life carryover. That isn’t to say they don’t add significant value and subsequent real life advantage but that specific application of the movement in your accounting job(Dail) isn’t easy. For those of you who remember my man CI you may recall his incredible ability to draw parallels between nearly any movement utilized in CrossFit and everyday life.
“Catch a bullet with your butt cheeks…”
“A bridge collapses and you are hanging by a girder…”
“Your house catches fire…”
“A would be rapist is chasing you…”
I am not even going to give you the rest of the context for any of those. I do recall that fire and felons played into a lot of these scenarios though.
In that bucket of important but less obvious carryover movements we find things like the handstand push up, muscle ups, and snatches. The reason we do these movements is fodder for another post. Today we are talking specifically about the handstand push up, the gross aberrations we see in the gym and what we should do about them. Handstand push ups, pull ups, muscle ups all fall into that sacred category of movements in the CrossFit arsenal that for many athletes are elusive beasts that must be mastered. Achieving them is a great milestone and should be celebrated. The issue I want with the hspu is when exactly the celebration should take place. To be clear on terms, a full handstand push up is completed when an athlete kicks into a handstand with completely straight arms, lowers their head to the floor, and then presses until their arms are completely straight again. Anything less than this is not a handstand push up.
Don’t confuse my disdain for crappy handstand push ups with my respect for a genuine progressive program that MAY involve partial range of motion to develop capacity. I feel like the space for using partial range of motion is extremely limited and a scaled down full range version of any movement is preferable. I would lighten the load or change the leverage.
My gripe is against those handstand push ups that involve a short stack of abmats. How many abmats does it take for a CrossFitter to do a handstand push up? I often hear the complaint that “the ground is hard and the mat is just protecting my head.” To which I say that if you lack the strength to control the descent that putting your cervical spine at risk with this movement might be ill advised OR you can use an object to offset the shortened range of motion of whatever padding you are using. 3 abmats have no place in a handstand push up. I can show you how to scale it to get the same stimulus and start working toward full handstand push ups but in the interim let’s avoid the Facebook update about your Rx Diane that involved 12 abmats stacked up under your head while you do 21 unbroken “hspu.”
There is one super legit application of the abmat as a head protector in the handstand push up. Chocolate Muscle does an ok job of demonstrating this if you care to see it.