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What are Handstands actually for?

By August 30, 2011No Comments

In our warm-up everyday we have handstand push-ups or some variation of that movement. Over the year and a half I have been helping teach people about CrossFit and its methods, I have gotten asked the question ‘how are handstands functional? I’ve never had to do a handstand in my everyday life until I came here.’ They are right the situations where a handstand is needed are few and far between outside of CFB. So why do we make you get inverted everyday? because it helps develop inverted proprioception, build upper body strength, and makes a great party trick.

Proprioception is defined as awareness of the position of ones body. This means that you are aware of where you arm is in relation to the ground and your other limbs. Why is that important? Lets say that you are walking down the street and you trip and fall over a curb you didn’t see. Now if you have poor proprioception you may stick your arm straight out while tumbling over and dislocate something. Now lets rewind this scenario and replay it with someone who has had a little bit of practice upside down. They trip and fall but are aware of how far away they are from the ground and manage to stay tucked up nice and tight and escape with nothing more than a few scrapes.

For the strength building facet of the handstand pushup, a little anatomy must be established. The shoulder joint and the hip joint are essentially the same. Pushups of any kind are to the shoulder what squats are to the hips. Pushups and squats activate a huge amount of musculature in your upper and lower body respectively. Handstand pushups are the largest load that we can put on your shoulders using only your bodyweight. Now the understanding of the hip and shoulder should lead to rethink how you do your HSPUs and pushups in general, but thats a different subject.

Lastly everyone knows that if you leave enough gentlemen in one room long enough, some sort of classy competition will start. These can range from story telling to the classic pushup contest. ?Besides the fact that you as CrossFitters are more than likely able to crank out more pushups than the average joe, there is always the off chance that the person who challenged you is somebody who has done p90x and can rep out pushups like nothing. ?At least you always have handstand pushups in your back pocket.

What do you think about handstand pushups? Do you like them? Hate them? Need more practice?

Matt hitting double unders. ?Click here for more pics on Flickr!

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