Kipping Handstand Push-Ups – CrossFit Exercise Guide


Muscles Targeted: The kipping handstand push-up is a very challenging CrossFit exercise that targets the upper body very well and really engages the muscles of the shoulders and chest along with hitting the triceps as a secondary muscle. This exercise also helps to develop flexibility and overall balance.

Exercise Instructions: This is a very difficult exercise to execute, so all beginners should ask for assistance from a certified CrossFit instructor before attempting it. Stand on the edge of a padded exercise mat about a foot away from a wall. Position yourself into a handstand with your body fully extended and your feet sightly touching the wall for balance. This will be the starting position for the exercise. Slowly lower your arms and head to form the base of a triangle, with your butt slightly resting against the wall. Your arms should be about 6 inches away from the edge of the wall. With a controlled tempo, push your legs up while extending your arms and stand straight up with your back to the wall. Your feet should slightly tap the wall for balance as you press yourself up into the top position. Slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position to complete a full repetition. Repeat the exercise in the same manner for your desired number of repetitions.

Things To Avoid: This exercise is not for beginners so make sure you have guidance by a certified trainer to help you through each stage of the exercise in order to execute it correctly and avoid injury. If performed improperly, a lot of things can go wrong. Here are some things to avoid when performing this movement:

1. Do not attempt this exercise without clearly understanding the overall technique. No matter how strong you think you are, it’s not worth hurting yourself if you execute it incorrectly. Learn this exercise by first doing the modified handstand push-up in order to learn the proper form while strengthening the specific muscles needed to perform is correctly.

2. Safety first! Until you master the “kipping” part of this movement, you probably should not attempt it. Ask a trainer to spot you while you go through each stage of the exercise and have them closely watch your form to make sure it’s spot-on.

3. Do not do this exercise on a hard surface. Place a padded exercise mat where your head will be positioned so that it will cushion your head in case you come down hard on it.

4. Add additional support if you need it. Stack 1-3 padded mats under your head, depending on the distance between the floor and top of your head. However, make sure there is enough space in order to perform the exercise.

5. Protect your neck at all times. Do not draw power from your head. Instead, use your shoulders, legs and triceps for your main source of strength.

6. Create a solid base for support. The most important part of the exercise is to create a stable tripod base. Take your time when starting the movement and make sure that your base is very secure.

7. Know your own strength and don’t force it. Although this an explosive type of movement, it’s critical that your tempo is controlled at all times. Focus on extending straight up the wall, with your heels tapping the wall softly for balance. Do not use the wall as your main support. Instead, rely on the power of your shoulders to keep your body straight up in the air.

8. Do not put all your weight directly on your head. Make sure that you distribute the weight of your body between your head, shoulders and arms.

9. When doing the negative portion of the push-up, when you lower your body back down to the ground, make sure you do it in a slow and controlled fashion in order to avoid any issues with your head hitting the pad too hard.

10. It is very important to follow the safety tips outlined above so you can stay injury free when doing kipping handstand push-ups.

Reps and Sets: As a beginner, you should only focus on doing 1-2 strict repetitions in order to get the exercise down correctly before moving onto a more intense routine. As you progress, you can attempt as many at 10-20 reps for 3-4 sets.

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