Brian PCF's Blog

Pullup and Handstand Pushup Progression Model

Have been doing a lot of tinkering with this before I rolled it out. I don’t have significant data to back this up, but I have enough that I feel comfortable asking a few folks to give it a try and see what happens. Here are the two plans, they can be done separately, but if you suck at both, go ahead and give them both a try.

Pullup Progression
Intent: Increase the volume under significant load.
Plan: Do these as pre/post-WOD work, not to be done on days when the WOD calls for pullups or if still recovering from a WOD with pullups. All three days shouldn’t be done in less than a week of time.
Scaling: This progression should be good for everybody in the meaty part of the curve. People with significant upperbody weakness or folks that have a good amount of kipping pullups already will need to scale down/up.

Day 1
3-5 sets x 10 seconds, Flexed Arm Hang

Day 2
3-5 sets x 5 Negatives, jump up over the bar, slowly lower down to full extension

Day 3
Kipping pullup practice with band. Don’t work to failure, just trying to encourage good muscle memory. If you need more than a blue band, sub Adrian’s Kipping Pullup progression on this day.

Handstand Pushups Progression

Intent: Increase volume under significant load, increase range of motion.
Plan: Do these as pre/post-WOD work, not to be done on days when the WOD calls for HSPU or significant pushing movements (ring dips, muscle ups, bench, pushups, press, push press, push jerk) or if still recovering from a WOD with significant pushing. All three days shouldn’t be done in less than a week of time.
Scaling: This progression should be good for everybody in the meaty part of the curve. People with significant upperbody weakness or folks that have a good amount of HSPU already will need to scale down/up.

Day 1
Death by Handstand Pushups (scaled to DB Press).
Select a fairly heavy weight, you shouldn’t be able to get more than 6 rounds your first time through.
Do one DB Press the first minute, two the second, three the third, etc.
Keep track of rounds + additional reps.

Day 2
3-5 sets x 30 seconds, Handstand Hold

Day 3
3-5 sets x 5, Negative Handstand Pushups to greater depth.
I usually do two 45lbs plates with an abmat in between (to cushion hitting my head more than anything).

What I’d really appreciate is some volunteers to try this for a month and get me some data. What I need in the comments for each is:

Pullup Progression:
-Current number of max set deadhang pullups
-Current number of max set kipping pullups
-If neither of these apply, max set of pullups with least amount of assistance.

HSPU Progression:
-Current number of max set HSPU (non-kipping, hands just outside shoulders)
-If this doesn’t apply, max single set of DB Press at 55 lbs for guys, 35 lbs for gals (or a “heavy” weight scaled to your level). You can rest the weights on your shoulders, but don’t put them down.

Please post this baseline data to comments, track your compliance on your personal blog, post to comments again in one month so we can consolidate data.

Post questions to comments.

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January 11, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

33 Comments »

  1. I’m in for the HSPU. It’s on my short list. Also on the list is butterfly kip, which I ‘m working on, so probably not appropriate for PU.

    Comment by Justin | January 11, 2010

  2. Also in for HSPUs.

    Comment by Sharon | January 11, 2010

  3. I am in for both, as my current numbers for both are 0’s.
    Least assistance for deadhang pullups is blue band, about 5 reps.
    Least assistance for HSPU is knees on box and hands on plates, about 10 reps.
    (I don’t think I have ever tried 35# DBs for press…I think I am up to 20#.)
    Maybe you can use me as the “low end” of the bell curve scale. I don’t mind being the outlier (outlyer?). 🙂

    Comment by Christy | January 11, 2010

  4. Will be joining the HSPU gang. Current baseline – 30# BD press, 30 sec wall-assist handstand hold.

    Comment by Wendy | January 11, 2010

  5. Great, good stuff guys.

    Sharon/Justin – please post your baseline. If you don’t know it, just put that on the schedule then start the progression.

    Comment by Brian PCF | January 11, 2010

  6. Brian, I’ll be one of your lab rats. No strict HSPU for me right now, probably 3-4 max strict press reps with 55# DBs.

    Comment by Jeff J | January 11, 2010

  7. I’m in…I’ll post my baseline after the wod tonight.

    Comment by Tony | January 11, 2010

  8. I’ll take a stab at this as well. Baseline etc will be on my blog when I’m back in town. I’ll also track via blog starting wednesday or thursday

    Comment by Dave | January 11, 2010

  9. Brian,
    I’m up for both. I’m probably the weakest overall in both areas. Based on the cut I got last Friday I’m limited in my grip exercises. But I’m very interested in following both.

    Cheers,
    Dan

    Comment by DanC | January 11, 2010

  10. I’m in for HSPU’s.

    Comment by Ryan H. | January 11, 2010

  11. I’m game for both.

    Pullups are 5 string kip or 2-3 strict
    HSPU are really bad, I can *maybe* get one rep.

    this is exciting

    Comment by Kassi | January 11, 2010

  12. I volunteer for the Pullup progression.

    deadhang pullup = 0
    kipping pullup = 0
    least assistance = blue band, 5 pullups

    Comment by E (Erika S) | January 11, 2010

  13. I am in for trying both but I mainly care about the HSPU. FYI I am only here for one more month 😦 so this will be a fun thing for me to try before I head out.

    baseline:
    HSPU: 2 – against wall and then next set one if I am lucky, but usually I’ll scale to blue bands on the pull up bars.
    Pullups: 13-15 or so before failure.

    More importantly Brian bring back the handlebars! That pic is awesome!

    Comment by Jeremy | January 11, 2010

  14. Brian,
    I’ll try the HSPU experiment.

    Baseline = 3 strict on a well rested day.

    Comment by Jen N | January 11, 2010

  15. I’m in for both, although I doubt I’ll ever get an HSPU…would be happy to lose my fear enough to do a regular handstand against the wall without climbing up it like a sissy.

    Pullup Progression:
    -Current number of max set deadhang pullups – 0
    -Current number of max set kipping pullups – 1 and I have not replicated this since before Christmas on that fateful day
    -If neither of these apply, max set of pullups with least amount of assistance. on high rep sets, I’ve been banned by Jon from using the blue band so I’d say I’m at black or black/red with kipping

    HSPU Progression:
    -Current number of max set HSPU (non-kipping, hands just outside shoulders) 0
    -If this doesn’t apply, max single set of DB Press at 55 lbs for guys, 35 lbs for gals (or a “heavy” weight scaled to your level) w/o resting the dbs on your shoulders. Do not know, but my press weights are not very high…I think my max press is about 60# or 65#

    Comment by Heather A | January 12, 2010

  16. I’m in for the HSPU progression. Those and MUs are my two goals. Can’t do either. I’m on the road this week with uneven access to a gym but should be able to get you my 55# DB baseline tomorrow.

    Comment by JeremyB | January 12, 2010

  17. Remember to try to get a baseline for this stuff and post it (those of you that haven’t yet…)

    Comment by Brian PCF | January 12, 2010

  18. DeadHang Pullup: 6
    Kipping Pullup: 10
    HSPU: 6

    Comment by Tony | January 12, 2010

  19. Brian, I don’t understand your instruction for Day 3 of the HSPU. Can we do both Pullup and HSPU progressions on the same day?

    Comment by Tony | January 12, 2010

  20. Tony, here’s how Day 3 works:

    -Put two stacks of two 45 lbs plates against the wall. They should be at a width so you can put your hands on top of them at your normal HSPU width (which should be just outside the shoulders).
    -Place an abmat between the two stacks to cushion your head.
    -Kick up into a handstand with your hands on the plates.
    -Slowly lower down until your head reaches the abmat.

    In this position, you’re upsidedown, head on abmat, hands on plates. The hands will be higher than your head. Going to greater depth makes going to normal depth (hands even with top of the thead) easier.

    Question 2: Yes you can do both the same days. Just watch injuries to the shoulders and elbows while your doing all this and the WOD too.

    Would love for you (and everybody) to keep me posted regularly on your progress.

    Comment by Brian PCF | January 12, 2010

  21. Brian, I’d be happy to do the pull-up progression; I’ve been doing it already based on your previous suggestions. I’ve started a few weeks ago and have gone through the cycle a bit–though not with the bands since when I’m not at PCF I don’t have them. I’ll test out my baseline and post it for you. It’s not pretty. Maybe five strict pull-ups?

    My HSPU suck, too, but I think doing both is probably a bad idea, no?

    Comment by Dan K | January 12, 2010

  22. Dan K. – I don’t think it’s a bad idea, just manage volume by listening to your body. If you’re elbows, shoulders, etc., are really feeling beat up, back off.

    Comment by Brian PCF | January 12, 2010

  23. Brian thanks…that clears it up

    Comment by Tony | January 13, 2010

  24. Baseline HSPU: one set of 7, one of 5 during last night’s warmup. I’ll probably do that again tonight and then start the progression next week. (Out of town this weekend, maybe visiting CF Watertown!)

    Comment by Justin | January 13, 2010

  25. For some of the more advanced guys/gals to play with in lieu of handstand holds:

    http://www.gymnasticbodies.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=1392

    Comment by Brian PCF | January 15, 2010

  26. Jackson 26/188

    HSPU Baseline: 45# DB Press x 6

    This was post 30 minute METCON WOD on 17JAN, so the results might obviously be a little skewed if one month from now I do the presses while fresh/rested. However, my next HSPU will be my first, so we’ll see what happens.

    Comment by Jackson | January 17, 2010

  27. […] Here it is for reference: Pull Up and HSPU Progressions […]

    Pingback by Broken Promises « Kassi XFit | January 20, 2010

  28. […] those that aren’t having issues in just one or two movements (which might improve with the Handstand Pushups and Pullup template) but with upperbody strength in general, here’s a simple rotation of exercises that you can […]

    Pingback by Upperbody Strength Template « Brian PCF | February 1, 2010

  29. Changed DBHSPU guidance to:

    “You can rest the weights on your shoulders, but don’t put them down”

    How’s everybody doing on this? Are we seeing progress? Are we seeing injury? Let me know.

    Comment by Brian PCF | February 1, 2010

  30. I got off to a good start and then hit a couple of shoulder intensive WODs in a row that kept me from doing the HSPU work. Bottom line, I need to get back in to the habit of doing the extra HSPU work. New month – new attempt!

    Comment by JeremyB | February 3, 2010

  31. thread seems to have died out, no prob I’m on board for the HSPU progression. Seriously determined to get my HSPU’s up.
    Stats HSPU – 1
    Don’t know about the push press @35 willing to try it out tomorrow. Will let you know how it goes.

    Comment by Abra | September 21, 2010

  32. Abra – stand by for an update on this. Keep an eye out.

    Comment by Brian PCF | September 22, 2010

  33. Brian-

    This is some good stuff here.

    I have been experimenting with adding a set of handstand pushups (working on increasing the ROM as the weeks go on, I started just moving a couple inches at a time) as part of my warmup. I try and stop well short of failure.

    So far I have been steadily improving my ROM and reps.

    But I am going to try your approach, just to switch things up.

    Thanks for your post,

    -Ian

    Comment by Ian | October 5, 2010


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