Six Tips for Perfecting the Handstand Push-Up

Looking to spice up your push-up routine? Why not try flipping them on their head–literally–with the handstand push-up. This topsy-turvy move is the perfect way to up the ante in the gym, but proceed with caution when attempting these upside down push-ups. We talked with John Warnek, Head Coach and owner of Iron Cross Athletics in Phoenixville, PA, to get some advice on improving our handstand push-up technique and tips on how to ease into this advance exercise.

“If you tell someone that’s strong enough to flip up to the wall and get their head to the floor and come back up, they’ll do it,” Warnek said. “But there are definitely ways to make this easier and make it more efficient.” Here are six tips for perfecting your handstand push-up technique.

Know the Basics

Also known as a vertical push-up or the inverted push-up, handstand push-ups test an athlete’s strength and balance. The upside down move begins in the handstand position, with the heels of your feet resting against a wall. “Basically, you kick up to a wall, you get your body nice and rigid, you lower your head to the floor, and then you press back up to the top,” explains Warneck. While traditional push-ups support approximately 70% of your body weight, handstand push-ups lift nearly your entire body weight.

Focus on Your Shoulders

“The first thing to talk about is shoulder positioning,” Warneck stresses. “What a lot of people try to do is like a straight line–hand, head, hand in a straight line. What you actually want is more of a triangle. I get my fingers pointing toward the wall and when I get up there, I’m going to try and twist my elbows so the inside of my elbow is facing the wall and the point of the elbow is facing back into the room.”

Crossfit Handstand Good vs Bad Form

Suck It In

While handstand push-ups rely heavily on triceps, shoulders, and deltoids, this move cannot be executed properly without engaging your core. Knees should be bent slightly to get your feet to the wall, but your back should not be arched drastically. Ensure your core is tight and your stomach is slightly concave.

Get Mobile

Shoulder mobility is key in executing handstand push-ups. Before flipping upside at the gym, run a simple test to check your shoulder mobility: Stand with your back to the wall, pull your shoulders back, and raise your hands up. You should be able to stretch your arms back to the wall. “You’ll see a lot of people, especially guys who have been bench pressing all their lives, they lost a lot of shoulder mobility,” Warneck reveals. Work on your flexibility, especially in your shoulders, before attempting handstand push-ups.

Pump It Up

Having the balance and strength to kick up to the wall and hold yourself upside down is only half of the battle. You also need to be strong enough to lower your head to the floor and raise yourself back to the starting position. It’s important to build the strength necessary to complete the upside down push-up move. To build strength, “we have you do shoulder presses usually with dumbbells or a bar,” Warnek describes. “Still trying to stress all the same things: To create the hollow body position, elbows out front, shoulders pulled back.”

Practice Makes Perfect

Handstand push-ups aren’t easy, but there are simple things you can do to work your way up the wall. Practice holding the handstand position against the wall and slowly add in lowering-and-raising targets with the help of coaches. Warnek also adds, “Somebody who has never kicked upside down… we have them go headstand first, then we get two people on either side and actively lift them just to make sure they can support themselves upside down. Then we can work on kicking up.” Lastly, Warnek suggests “regular old push-ups on the floor” as a good step towards getting strong enough to do handstand push-ups.

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Paleo on the Page: The Best Books to Fuel Your Paleo Diet

Whether you’re just starting to dip your tastebuds into the Paleo Diet, or are so engrossed in ancestral eating that you’ve recently moved into a cave, cracking open a Paleo cookbook or two can only improve your nutritional happiness. From Paleo Diet guides to eating for athletes, this collection of seven mouth-watering cookbooks will get you in the kitchen and on the road to Paleo satisfaction.


The Paleo Diet Recipe Book Paleo Recipe Book

This massive tome is an excellent resource for everyone—from beginners to ancestral eating experts. Jammed between its covers are more than 350 recipes, eye-popping photography, and basic information vital at any stage of the Paleo Diet. The Paleo Recipe Book’s 8-week meal plan is a great starting point for Paleo rookies, but veterans can also find inspiration in this extensive Paleo guide., $27

 Paleo Hacks Paleo Food Guide Paleo Hacks’s active community message board is like having hundreds of Paleo Diet experts constantly on call. Want to learn how to thicken gravy without flour or cornstarch? PaleoHacks has the answer. Want to know where to buy bear fat in British Columbia? Strangely enough, more than one member of the Paleo Hacks’ community can point you in the right direction. Along with an active message board, PaleoHacks has also published six Paleo guides and cookbooks. Paleo Hacks books cover everything from recipes to meal plans to Paleo guides for dining out., $37

 Your Guide To Paleo Your Guide to Paleo

Armed with the proper knowledge, the Paleo Diet can be simple and irresistibly delicious. Your Guide to Paleo introduces the reader to Paleo’s basics by covering  foods to eat and avoid, how to cook, and the best ways to live the Paleo lifestyle. This Paleo guide not only spells it out for you, but also brightens the page with colorful illustrations., $23

 30 Day Guide To Paleo Primal Palate

Written—and taste-tested—by a Paleo-loving couple, Primal Palate is an interactive website where hungry cavemen can find recipes, meal planners, and three Paleo-inspired books. Newbies can turn toThe 30 Day Guide to Paleo Cooking, while experience ancestral eaters can find Paleo party inspiration in Gather. Primal Palate’s first book was a collection of 200 recipes ideal for any Paleo kitchen., $29

 Paleo in a Box Paleo Diet in a Box

Paleo Diet in a Box is more of a masterclass than a simple book. This program is a six week online nutrition training system geared towards athletes who are looking to get faster and stronger through diet. Nutritionist and strength coach Justin Lord directly connects the Paleo Diet to physical performance as he walks students through strategies for eating clean, matching nutrition to specific fitness goals, and how to accelerate fat loss. Paleo in a Box is delivered in videos, audio MP3s, and PDF downloads over the course of six weeks., $291

The Paleo Chef - Summer Eats Mary, The Paleo Chef

Penned by a personal Paleo chef and lifestyle coach to the stars, this digital cookbook is a collection of 16 elegant eats and 15 tantalizing cocktails. Chef Mary wrote this cookbook to remind ancestral eaters that the Paleo Diet is not an end to fancy dishes and cheers-worthy libations. This e-cookbook includes recipes for Pomegranate Pork Belly and Lavender Honey Bee’s Knees cocktail—hungry yet?, $20

 1000 Paleo Recipes 1000 Paleo Recipes

Claiming to be the biggest collection of Paleo recipes on the planet, this e-book will tempt your taste buds with easy and delicious step-by-step recipes. Over the course of several months, you’ll receive 250 recipes at a time, giving you bite-sized chunks of the massive collection to explore. 1000 Paleo Recipes cover everything from breakfast to dessert and chicken to smoothies., $27

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7 Steps to Eating Like a Caveman

Although the Paleo Diet may seem like another trendy weight loss plan, this lifestyle has its roots not only in the Paleolithic Age, but also in science. The Paleo Diet was first popularized in the 1970s by gastroenterologist Walter L. Voegtlin. Voegtlin argued that humans are “carnivorous animals” who would benefit from a diet similar to our Paleolithic ancestors—foods rich in protein and fat with very little carbohydrates. Since Voegtlin’s revolutionary theory, thousands have decided to endorse and partake in more caveman-friendly fare.

Basically, the Paleo Diet promotes fat—and not carbs—as the body’s biggest source of energy. Our ancestors had easy access to meat, and seasonal fruits and veggies. More relaxed Paleo eaters also say small amounts of dairy are fine. The biggest no-nos on the Paleo Diet are saturated fats, wheat, refined sugar, and almost all packages and processed foods. The best part? Bacon has the Paleo Diet’s seal of approval!

As you embark on your Paleo adventure, it’s vital you have tools to ensure success. You’ll need a map, a compass, and beef jerky for the road. Here are seven resources to guide you through the first weeks of your brand new Paleo lifestyle.

1. Get Paleo’s Story Straight: As you dive into the world of Paleo, it’s helpful to understand the history and science behind the lifestyle. Luckily for us, people like Dr. Sarah Ballantyne (a.k.a The Paleo Mom) and Robb Wolf have created foolproof guides to Paleo eating. Check out the Paleo Mom’s simple starter guide. Or, if you want a shorter explanation, look no further than Robb Wolf: What is the Paleo Diet.

2. Learn the Paleo Food Pyramid: Without a proper understanding of what is and is not allowed on the Paleo Diet, a trip to the grocery store can be daunting. You might know the rules, but seeing a complete list of foods that have a caveman’s stamp of approval is incredibly useful. Check out The Ultimate Paleo Guide and Paleo Plan for comprehensive (and super easy to understand) lists of ancestral foods.

3. Tune in to YouTube Channels: YouTube has more to offer than just adorable videos of puppies. Experts and enthusiasts alike create and post Paleo-focused videos on YouTube. A YouTuber simply known as PaleoDiet posts videos about the history and science behind ancestral eating. YouTuberSexyPaleoFood posts videos about the Paleo lifestyle, cooking, and basic tips and tricks to maintaining a Paleo diet.

4. Let Recipe Blogs Make Your Mouth Water: The internet has easily eclipsed cookbooks in recent years. Food blogs are all over the web, and the Paleo Diet has inspired many cooks-turned-bloggers to post irresistible Paleo recipes for the world to try. Nom Nom Paleo is written by Michelle Tam who includes eye-catching step-by-step photographs with each recipe. Sarah Fragoso over at Everyday Paleo posts lifestyle pieces, awesome recipes, and food photography so delicious you can almost taste it. Find a Paleo Diet food website that makes you hungry! Visit it frequently to find new recipes and to stay inspired.

5. Build a Meal Plan: As you become accustomed to your new Paleo lifestyle, picking the right foods will be second nature. But as you get started with the Paleo Diet, having a structured meal plan may be beneficial. Caveman Strong offers Paleo eaters a two week plan which includes meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Robb Wolf also offers up basic meal plans for everyone from Paleo rookies to endurance athletes. You can check out the meal plans here.

6. Adopt the 85:15 Rule: Nearly any Paleo eater will admit that kicking processed carbs was the hardest step towards a healthier lifestyle. While the Paleo world is bursting with mouthwatering bites, the siren song of pancakes at Sunday brunch or a slice of pizza during the hockey game can be impossible to resist. Fortunately, it’s possible to maintain a healthy Paleo Diet and still sink your teeth into jam-slathered toast… occasionally. Many experts recommend the 85:15 Rule: 85% of the time you’re strictly Paleo, 15% you enjoy non-Paleo food. This rule translates to 2 or 3 “cheat meals” each week, or even an entire cheat day every 1-2 weeks.

7. Start Fresh: It won’t be easy, but purging your kitchen of non-Paleo food will help you totally commit to this caveman diet. As you sort through your fridge, you’ll most likely toss expired mustard you didn’t know you had, but you’ll also learn exactly what kind of strange ingredients and chemicals you’ve been ingesting for years! Read each label, recycle what you can, and breathe a sigh of relief once your kitchen is Paleo-friendly.

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The Final Countdown: How to Prepare for the CrossFit Open

‘Tis the season to put your CrossFit training to the test! The CrossFit Games season is upon us with registration now live, and competitors training for the February 27th release of the first Open workout. You squat all year with this elite athletic contest in mind, but now is the time to up the ante in pursuit of a spot at Regionals.

Here are seven tips to jack up your CrossFit Open training:


The first Open workout will be released on February 27th. Over the course of five weeks, one workout will be released every Thursday, giving competitors until the following Monday at 5 p.m. Pacific Time to officially record their scores. Mark the dates and ensure you have adequate time to attempt the workout and record your performance. It’s also important to note that some affiliates join together to judge workouts publicly. This is done in an attempt to take pressure off individual boxes and to build camaraderie between athletes. Check with your box or local affiliates to see if any group workouts are schedule for the CrossFit Open.


The CrossFit Games website has posted all the Open Workouts from the past three years. Try your hand at the workouts and judge your performance to determine what you should focus on when moving forward with your training.


As you attempt past Open workouts, are there specific moves you struggle with? It’s important to move efficiently to prevent fatigue and injury. If there are moves you cannot do flawlessly, now is the time to master them.


Each CrossFit move depends heavily on stable spines and flexible joints. As you work your way through past Open workouts, note any instability or stiffness you may feel. Add more stretches, yoga, or longer recovery sessions into your workouts.


In the three or four weeks leading up to the first Open workout, do all WODs at 100%. Upping the intensity is an excellent way to prepare for the pressure of the competition and also identify your weaknesses. Going 100% may mean adding more rest days into your schedule, but a little extra rest and relaxation is vital to your performance.


The week before the first Open workout is released, consider cutting down your WOD volume. One option is to complete your regular WODs but cut the repetitions in half or reduce loads to the minimum. Minimizing the impact on your body while still staying sharp is key to performing at your best. Throughout the five-week Open, make sure to rest… a lot.


Checking the leaderboard on the CrossFit Games website can be both exhilarating and debilitating. Seeing so many competitors from all over the world is exciting, but noting the ability of these extraordinary athletes can make you question your own strength and skill. Remember that you’re capable of more than you think. Training for the CrossFit Games puts a lot of emphasis on physical strength, but staying mentally strong is just as important.

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Tune In To Tone Up: The Best CrossFit YouTube Channels

The internet is overflowing with incredible CrossFit resources. From Twitter feeds to blogs, online CrossFit knowledge is endless. For a visual look at this sport, look no further than YouTube where CrossFitters across the globe post videos about technique, competition and pure-and-simple WODs. Here are the five greatest CrossFit YouTube Channels.


This YouTube Channel is the official site for CrossFit® videos. CrossFit® explains, “The CrossFit® program is designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience.” This YouTube Channel demonstrates its inclusive philosophy by posting videos for everyone: from introductions to CrossFit, to inspiration for athletes, to weightlifting how-tos. This channel is for everyone from people curious about CrossFit to elite CrossFit athletes.


Kelly Starrett’s YouTube Channel focuses on MobilityWOD which is billed as the ultimate guide to resolving pain, preventing injury and optimizing athletic performance. This YouTube Channel helps viewers increase flexibility and treat injuries through stretches and exercises that hone in on every joint. Starrett also helps his viewers deal with everyday pain, such as sitting through long flights in cramped airplanes.



Barbell Shrugged
 is recorded as a podcast but includes beautifully shot video that makes watching this CrossFit talk show even more enjoyable. Every Wednesday the Barbell Shrugged crew talks about CrossFit, strength, conditioning and throws in good natured humor that keeps viewers coming back. Check out Barbell Shrugged’s YouTube Channel to learn about the sport of CrossFit from an entertaining angle.



Pat Flynn’s YouTube Channel
 offers an “intelligent approach to strength, conditioning and lifestyle augmentation.” Flynn’s videos are comprehensive, covering topics from the Paleo Diet to workout tips. A majority of the videos are detailed weightlifting tutorials in which Flynn walks his viewers through various kettlebell workouts and techniques.


Hookgrip’s YouTube Channel is all about Olympic-style weightlifting. Viewers tune into this channel to see Olympic weightlifters in action and to learn more about professional weight lifting techniques. A handful of videos on Hookgrip’s channel offer slow-motion views of lifts, offering viewers a close-up look at expert weight lifting.

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Scrapes, blisters and calluses are everyday owies that happen anywhere, including the box. Come prepared for minor CrossFit injuries with an arsenal of first aid remedies.

Start with the basics: Bandages and cold packs are must-haves in any first-aid kit, including the one you toss in your gym bag. Calluses are impossible to avoid in the box. The best way to keep them from affecting your fitness is to shave them down and keep them smooth with a specialized callus shaver with safety slide. There is no magic potion out there for aches and pains, but there are plenty of salves and ointments that do the trick. Aquaphur Healing Ointment prevents chaffing and helps to soothe irritated skin, while Biofreeze relieves achy muscles and joints with an instant cool and tingling sensation. Roll out those knots with the Gemini, which was created specifically with CrossFit athletes in mind. And last, but not least, just think of the sweaty paws all over those kettlebells—kill some of that borrowed bacteria with good ole’ fashioned hand sanitizer. Bring your WOD-ready first-aid kit to your next workout and you’ll be ready for anything.



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CrossFit First-Aid Kit: Band-Aid Flexible Fabric Bandages via | Instant Cold Pack viaWalgreens | Tweezerman Callus Shaver via | Aquaphor Healing Ointment via | Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel via Performance Health | MobilityWOD Gemini via Rouge Fitness | X3: Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizer via |


Philadelphia often conjures images of our Founding Fathers, cheese-and-meat-loaded sandwiches, and overzealous sports enthusiasts. But, hidden among the cheesesteak joints and hardcore Eagles fans, is a fit Philadelphia ready to get you off your feet.

Lace up your walking shoes and take off on a self-guided tour of Philly’s most historic spots. Channel Benjamin Franklin’s good sense and swing by Totem Brand—this store sells USA-made men’s clothing and accessories that’ll get you looking sharp for a night out on the town. When you’re suited up in Philly’s finest threads, pull up a chair at Tulala’s Garden, a eatery with a seasonal menu inspired by local growers. Philadelphia never misses a beat, and neither should you with your training! Step it up at CrossFit Center City—right in the heart of the City of Brotherly Love. Looking for a more relaxed workout? Dip your paddles in the Schuykill River and get a gorgeous view of this stellar city from the comfort of a rented kayak.



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Philadelphia Hot Spots: Locally Sourced Grub via Talula’s Garden | Kayak on the Schuykill River via Hidden River Outfitters | Danner Boots via Totem Brand | CrossFit Center City | Self-Guided Walking Tour of Philadelphia via The Constitutional |


Workdays are a blur, making it tough to find time for fitness. The key to squeezing a quick workout into your hectic day is to simplify: Organize your schedule, manage your time, and carefully pack the bare-minimum of gear for your mad dash to and from the gym. Skip the gym bag altogether, because these bare essentials can easily fit in your purse. Start with Patagonia’s bold green running top which features a built-in bra. Throw on a pair of light shorts, then lace up Merrell’s Vapor Glove running shoes which weigh in at 10 ounces—total. Even during a quick workout, hydration is vital! Bring along Vapur’s collapsible water bottles that roll up and are easy to store when empty. And as you wipe the sweat from your brow and head off to your next appointment, stuff your stinky gym wear into Flight 001’s handy Gym Gear Bag, which separates your sweaty clothes from the clean stuff.



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Minimalist Gym Bag Fashion Features: Gamut Sport Top via Patagonia | GTD Running Shorts via The North Face | Gym Gear Bag via Flight 001 | Barefoot Run Vapor Glove Running Shoes via Merrell |Water Bottle viaVapur |


It’s amazing what you can learn in 140 characters or less. 200 million Twitter users generate approximately 340 million tweets a day. According to a San Antonio-based market research firm, Pear Analytics, 40% of Tweets are “Pointless Babble,” but 9% have pass-along value. Don’t worry about digging through the pointless babble and spam to find the Tweeters who matter—we’ve done all the hard work for you! Check out the Top Seven Best CrossFit Lifestyle-Inspired Tweeters:



This is the official Twitter account for CrossFit. Chock-full of motivational quotes, WODs and links to fascinating content, this is a must-follow for CrossFit Tweeters. Follow @CrossFit for all the news and tidbits from the official source.


This year’s CrossFit Games have come and gone, but that hasn’t stopped the official Twitter account from Tweeting out interesting links, quotes and interviews with CrossFit athletes. Follow @CrossFitGames for a first hand look at hardcore CrossFit athletes.


CrossFit Journal is a fitness, health and lifestyle publication dedicated to improving athletic performance and quality of life. Follow @crossfitjournal for links to articles, videos and audio files covering everything from exercise technique, nutrition and much more.


Mark Sisson is a blogger, athlete and author of the book “Primal Blueprint”. Sisson’s diet tips incorporate many aspects of the Paleo Diet, which is closely tied to the CrossFit lifestyle. Follow @Mark_Sisson to get great tips on healthy eating and general fitness.


Dr. Andrew Weil is a teacher and writer on holistic medicine. Dr. Weil is a guru when it comes to all-natural diets and drool-worthy recipes. Follow @DrWeil for Tweets about integrative medicine, nutrition and all-around natural health.


Robb Wolf is a strength and conditioning coach who is also a New York Times Bestselling author! Follow @robbwolf for Tweets about the Paleo Diet, fitness and general nutrition.


Dai “The Moose” Manuel is a motivational speaker and CrossFit athlete. The Moose sends out upbeat Tweets about health, workouts and positive living. Follow @daimanuel to get motivated!

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The Map to Dreamland: Five Tips for Better Sleep

Catching quality Z’s can improve your memory, lower your stress and help you live a longer, happier life. So why is it so hard for us to tuck in at night and drift off to dreamland? With our buzzing cell phone always within arms reach, it’s easy to see why so many of us struggle to relax at bedtime. A perfect night’s sleep is attainable (and important to living a healthy life!), so check out these five tips to getting better sleep.


It’s tempting to write one last email in bed or channel surf under the covers, but habits like these can keep your mind turning for hours after the light go out. Instead, start winding down at least fifteen minutes before bedtime. Turn off your computer and stash your phone away before slipping into comfortable pajamas and sipping warm caffeine-free tea. If you find yourself fretting about tomorrow, jot down what’s concerning you and then clear your mind for a restful night of sleep.


Although slumber is hours away, your 4pm coffee might be keeping you up at night. Cut out caffeine after 2pm and be especially careful what you eat or drink in the evening. A glass of wine before bed might make you feel drowsy, but alcohol can keep you from getting deep sleep.


Our bodies react to the light around us. Bright light signals daytime, while dimmer lights help us to relax. A study recently showed that exposing yourself to natural morning light can reset your circadian clock (your internal alarm clock) to help you rise earlier naturally. If privacy allows it, crack your shades to allow in morning light.


Keeping a regular exercise schedule can help improve your sleep. Research has shown that at least 45 minutes of cardio each day decreased the effects of insomnia. The best time to sweat is always up for debate, but stretching or gentle yoga before crawling between the sheets is a nice way to quiet your mind and relax your body.


Mild lower back pain might not keep you from drifting off to sleep, but it can make your snooze restless. Tucking a pillow between your knees is an excellent way to align your hips and relieve back pain.

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