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Strict HSPU

By Holley | In Anatomy & Physiology, Gymnastics | on March 13, 2014

Right around the time I’ve had a few people talk (complain) about having to do strict handstand push ups in WODs, Again Faster re-posted a great article published by a CrossFitter/chiropractor about HSPU, so I figured we’ll cover the topic again for those who missed it the first time around. In November of last year, CrossFitter who later started a career as a chiropractor, Ryan DeBell, posted an article called 7 Reasons to Get Stronger Instead of Doing Kipping HSPU. His top 7 reasons were your first through seventh cervical vertebra (C1 – C7), and all of the connective tissue, discs, ligaments and nerves along the way. I’ll let you all read the article to get the details, it’s a very fast read, but I’ll summarize below.

There are nerves that stick out between the vertebrae mentioned above, and when you land on your head in a kipping HSPU, these vertebrae get compressed and the nerves get crushed. After a few reps, nothing will probably happen, but lots and lots of reps in a row can do damage to those nerves. Also, if you crash down on your head hard enough, you could put enough pressure on the discs between your vertebrae to tear or rupture it (ouch)!

Ryan’s solution is to have people work on strict HSPU so we all save our necks and get stronger at the same time. He also makes a very valid point that the people who did the Regional WOD with all of the HSPU the fastest (Chris Spealler, Dan Bailey, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet), all did them strict. Now, if you’re training for a competition, he suggested kipping HSPU are fine to work on in preparation for the comp, but they shouldn’t be done at a high volume, only enough to get the kipping technique down.

I’ll be honest, when Ruth presented the trainers with this information, I was thinking, yuck! I have a huge range of motion with my monkey arms, how am I ever going to get through a WOD with HSPU again? What happened? My WOD times with HSPU slowed significantly, but my HSPU got SO MUCH BETTER. Yes my strict HSPU are slower than kipping, but my neck isn’t being damaged and my upper body strength is improving. When it came to competition time with deficit HSPU, I got right back into the kipping and found them to be easier than ever. Plus, for the 99.9% of us out there CrossFit because it’s fun, social, keeps us in great shape and puts us on a path for longevity, why risk your longevity for just a few seconds off the clock.

Anyway, read the article for yourself, it’s quick and informative. Come in and knock out your strict HSPU (or sub) and come back healthy and injury free, ready to WOD another day.

Fat Sale: Fatworks is celebrating their one year birthday selling fat, so they’re having a sale on jars of grass fed tallow for $10. There isn’t a coupon code, just go to their website and all day TODAY they will be just $10. Check out Alia’s post for more information about Tallow¬†and Fatworks.

WOD 03.13.14




4 Comments to "Strict HSPU"

  • jsutandyo says:

    March 17, 2014 at 1:52 PM -

    Need to right a post about this and butterfly pull-ups! I see folks working on them all the time thinking it’s just a timing thing, and never working on the strict pull-ups are that the single most important thing in actually getting butterfly pull-ups :/

  • jsutandyo says:

    March 17, 2014 at 1:52 PM -


  • Picking a HSPU Kip - Intrepid Athletics El SegundoIntrepid Athletics El Segundo says:

    December 4, 2014 at 5:00 AM -

    […] often do HSPUs in workouts, but we do them strict and for good reason, which you can read all about here. However in competitions, you are often allowed to kip your HSPU which allows you to do a greater […]

  • Intrepid Athletics PDX says:

    December 5, 2014 at 9:05 PM -

    […] often do HSPUs in workouts, but we do them strict and for good reason, which you can read all about here. However in competitions, you are often allowed to kip your HSPU which allows you to do a greater […]

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