Christmas training advent calender: 13th Dec 2011, Day 12

Today, all i want to do is open up a challenge to you…and that is to Defy Gravity and Do a Handstand Pushup!!

What you say that’s crazy…well maybe not, with a little hard work and patience you can get there.

First though we have to admit it: Kicking up to a handstand, lowering the top of your head to the floor and pressing your body-weight back up — even once — requires no small amount of physical power.

The inverted position alone presents a challenge to the stability and mobility in your core and upper back. And once you bend your arms, look out: Your shoulders, triceps and chest have to work for all they’re worth to keep you from whacking your head on the gym floor.

But that’s what makes it a perfect end-of-year fitness challenge. Nail this one and you’ll have bragging rights to arguably the toughest basic body-weight exercise there is. Adam Steer, NSCA-certified personal trainer and body-weight training specialist, shares the step-by-step method he uses to turn clients from inversion-averse scaredy-cats to hand-standing heroes in the space of a few short weeks.

Remember: Even superfit types find this exercise challenging. Strength wise, it’s nearly the equivalent of doing a barbell press with your full body weight. Take your time with this program and realize that getting even a little better at the handstand pushup will translate into greater athleticism in everything you do.

Work the following exercises into your regular routine two to three times a week, advancing to the next phase when you reach the “Ready to Advance” benchmarks described in each section.

The Program
Phase One: The Pike Pushup

• From a pushup position, walk your feet toward your hands a couple of steps, raising your hips high in the air so that your body forms a straight line from your tailbone to your hands.

• Keeping your hips high, slowly bend your arms, lowering yourself until the top of your head lightly touches the floor.

• Reverse the movement, pressing yourself back up to the starting position with as much explosive force as possible.

Sets and Reps: Start off with five sets of five, and work up to three sets of eight to 12.

Ready to Advance: When you can perform three sets of eight to 12 reps.

Phase Two: Pike Hold, Feet on a Box
• Use a box approximately 12 to 24 inches high.

• Locking your arms and bracing through your core, step your feet up onto the box, forming an inverted “L” with your body: hands on the floor, feet atop the box, torso and arms vertical, legs straight and roughly parallel to the floor.

• Use an incrementally higher box, counter top or other stable surface each time you perform the move.

Version One: Hold this position isometrically.

Version Two: Do partial pushups in which you lower your head just a few inches.

Version Three: Perform the full pushup, lightly touching the top of your head to the floor each rep.

Sets and Reps: Version One: Work up to three holds of 60 seconds each.

Versions Two and Three: Five sets of five, working up to three sets of eight to 12.

Ready to Advance: Version One: When you can do three sets of 60-second holds.

Versions Two and Three: When you can do three sets of eight to 12.

Phase Three: Isometric Handstand Hold
• Find a wall space at least 3 feet wide, with plenty of space around.

• Bend at the waist and place your hands flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart, about 12 inches from the wall.

• Keeping your arms locked and both legs straight, kick your dominant leg over your head, as if trying to touch the wall with your heel. When you do this correctly, your hips and non dominant leg will follow, and you will be in a handstand position with both heels against the wall.

• Once inverted, squeeze your legs together, tighten your glutes and core, and push away from the floor with your hands.

• Breathe as normally as possible and hold for as long as you comfortably can, coming down one leg at a time.

Sets and Reps: Two to three holds, each up to 60 seconds long.

Ready to Advance: When you can hold the position for three sets of 60 seconds each.

Phase Four: The Wall-Support Handstand Pushup
• Kick into a handstand against the wall as described at left.

Version One: Perform partial repetitions, lowering your head a few inches to the floor.

Version Two: Perform a full repetition, lowering your head all the way to the floor and pressing yourself back up.

Sets and Reps: Version One: Work up to three sets of eight to 12.

Version Two: Begin with multiple sets of one or two repetitions and go up from there.

Congratulations! You did it. Next year? The freestanding version!

Well that’s it, make sure you guys stick with this and please comment, or send through any photos of your progress to and i’ll post on our wall.

Boring disclaimer part.

Here at 180 Degrees we advise everyone before entering a new exercise programme to get a full health assessment and sign off by the GP, reborn also accept no responsibility of anyone suffering from injury, illness or shear stupidity to hurt themselves with these basic exercises)