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Handstand Push-Up Progression With Carl Paoli: Part 2 by Carl Paoli - CrossFit Journal
Video Article

Retool your gymnastics skills with elite gymnast Carl Paoli, founder of Naka Athletics, coach at San Francisco CrossFit and creator of Through his Freestyle Connections Seminar, Paoli introduces athletes to advanced gymnastics skills using simple progressions and coaching points. Today’s movement is the handstand push-up.

In Part 2 of the series, Paoli explains how active shoulders create tension and stabilize the midline. He describes how a handstand push-up is like a squat with the order of movement from core to extremity.

“The shoulder’s the hip, the elbow’s the knee, and the wrist is the ankle,” he says. The same problems present themselves with both movements: knees rolling in during a squat is just like elbows moving out in the handstand push-up—both are a loss of tension.

Paoli shows how to spot and scale the handstand push-up as the next progression from a wall walk. Further advancements to the progression are forward-facing handstand push-ups for quick transitions and parallette handstand push-ups for increased range of motion.

Paoli says the drills help address holes in your fitness that might translate over to other movements, such as Olympic lifting.

“Gymnastics is only an excuse to be able to talk about these holes,” he says.

11min 41sec

Video by Again Faster.

Additional reading: The Push-Up by Greg Glassman, published March 1, 2003.

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10 Comments on “Handstand Push-Up Progression With Carl Paoli: Part 2”


wrote …

Another awesome video! Please give us more videos like this one!


wrote …

This guy rocks!!


wrote …

This is exceptional instruction - many thanks.


wrote …

Absolutely brilliant! I've hurt myself trying handstands and handstand push-ups before. Now I feel so much safer with these progressions.


wrote …

Parts 1 and 2 are awesome! Cant' wait to go try it all!!!


wrote …

Carl refers to a dehydration test after the handstand. Anyone know what the test is?


wrote …

@ Miles Libbey - Dehydration test I saw in one of Kelly Starrett's mobility vlogs (, can't find the actual vid, sorry). If you press your thumb into your shine bone, the tissue should "bounce back". If the tissue keeps an indent where you pressed, it indicates you are dehydrated. I'm paraphrasing, please feel free to correct me.

My question is regarding this video and this one -

They seem to disagree, regarding getting the shoulder pressed up to the ear. Is one movement for a hand-stand (shoulder close to ear) and the other for a snatch (shoulder away from the ear)?

Regardless, love these video and Starrett & Paoli can do no wrong in my eyes, even if in this situation one of them is wrong :)


wrote …

Great Progession videos, I have completely regained confidence on doing freestanding handstand push-ups.


wrote …

this guy has a great teaching style and gets the point across that rome wasnt built in a day. awsome!!

definatly going to be taking these tips to my next skills session.



wrote …

You have no idea how much these videos have helped me! I have been able to do an ugly Muscle-up on rings for a while but I have really cleaned it up! Id love to see progressions on Bar Muscle-ups...


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