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Alex Beasley 11-07-2012 08:35 AM

Are handstand push ups a good sub for the press?
My physio recommended I avoid overhead pressing due to a lack of mobility, range of motion and shoulder blade stability when pressing overhead. That said, my shoulders feel bloody amazing just being in a handstand position, so I figured that I could put one and one together to get something that benefits how they feel but also strengthens my shoulders.

My question is, is it a good enough substitute in terms of size and strength that it can give? I've got to admit I'm not strong enough to even do a single proper HSPU, so I'm working through progressions, but it still feels pretty taxing on my shoulders - is it a perfectly reasonable move to focus on these instead of pressing?

Clint Harris 11-07-2012 08:50 AM

Re: Are handstand push ups a good sub for the press?
What happened to you ?
Perhaps get a second opinion ?
I don't know what ales (?) you, but I've heard people say this stuff before and they've sourced second opinions and literally get, a different opinion.
I also know of people who have been rehabbed by going sensibly overhead - like perhaps russian KBS and a regime of mobility and small assistance work (like small band shoulder rotations, scapular push-ups etc).
I bet that Jeff Martone guy was probably told not to go overhead too .. bamm.

As for HSPU - I have an old separated shoulder injury which flares up from time to time (basically reaching across in front of me is painful/restricted and it hurts right where the collar bone meets the shoulder). When it does, I can press, snatch and heavy KBS etc no problem, I can also hold a handstand no problem. But if I try to to a HSPU - that's when the shoulder hurts. To me, there is way more pressure and far more things that can go wrong with "overhead" when doing a HSPU than with a press. Ring Dips will also be a struggle.

So if it were me - I'd seek a second opinion just to be sure and really work on a rehab/mobility program (provided by someone you can work with rather than ad-hoc youtube vids) before trying too much. Even if you feel great .... that may simply mean there is no pain ... but you may not have any strength there to stabilize that joint and will just furg it up again.

John C Corona 11-07-2012 08:56 AM

Re: Are handstand push ups a good sub for the press?
-- if mobility is an issue, you should be doing more. Dynamic stretching like swinging your arms (controlably) all different ways before a workout is good. I always stretch out using bands after workouts - Daily!

-- HSPU are decent sub, yes. I feel they promote a lil more body awareness, meaning staying tight in your core, will transfer over to a tighter body when pressing a barbell. Even if you are using 10 abmats (exageration), just being upside down is a good strengthening tool.

-- BUT, you will not develope the strength in the range from "shoulder to top of head". This would require you doing hspu's on paralletes, if you want the hspu to transfer over to shoulder pressing. Saying it another way, hspu's to the top of your head will not train the lower portion of a barbell press. Similarly, always doing PUSH presses never really helped my strict press cause the legs allow you to clear that difficult lower range.

Just do both, unless there is pain somewhere?

Alex Beasley 11-07-2012 09:07 AM

Re: Are handstand push ups a good sub for the press?
Clint - basically I've got a whole host of imbalances and the like. Barbell bench pressing is practically impossible because it always results in incredibly shore shoulders. Upper traps are usually hunched up as they're too dominant over the lower ones, shoulder imbalances etc....just a whole mess of stuff, really. Thanks for the advice though - I've got a whole list of stretches, exercises etc that I'm doing to resolve my issues, they help immensely. With time, it should be alright.

John - thanks for the input. If it gets to the point that I'm able to crank out HSPU with ease, I could always just elevate my hands to allow me to go further down. As for doing both, unfortunately pressing does tend to cause pain, particularly when holding the bar overhead. Probably has something to do with the lack of range of motion in my shoulders; if I just hold my hands up overhead, no bar in hand, in an effort to have them in line with my head as if I were pressing, they're almost always slightly in front of me, and it causes discomfort if I pull them back to make them straight above me. My guess is that barbell pressing hurts because my body is automatically pulling the weight back out of habit, but of course it hurts due to it being beyond my range of motion.

In any case, I appreciate the answers, thanks for your input guys!

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