This is day 6 of our prison series where we will finish covering the 6 core movements of Convict Conditioning.

Here is a quick summary of the 6 “Core Movements”

  1. Pushups
  2. Squats
  3. Pull Ups
  4. Leg Raises
  5. Bridges
  6. Handstand Pushups

Today, we are going to focus on the sixth and final movement of “The Big Six Movements”:

Shoulder Joint Convict ConditioningMovement Six: Handstand Pushups

This is meant to be a supplement to Convict Conditioning as it is imperative to understand the correct implementation of each movement and the history behind them.


adobe-pdf_thumb.jpgAs a bonus, you can download the portable Convict Conditioning Wall Chart Bundle (zip file).


Why You Should do Handstand Pushups- A Note From The Book: by Coach Paul Wade

The following are excerpts from the book:

Healthy and Powerful Shoulders

It’s hard to think of any body part more associated with pure masculinity than the shoulders.

Since Atlas held the heavens aloft on his, men have inherently understood the connection between shoulders and strength.

The primary muscles of the shoulder, the deltoids, transmit the force of the major torso muscles in virtually all powerful arm movements- therefore, if the shoulders are weak, the whole upper body is weak by default.

Broad shoulders project an image of power and physical superiority unmatched by any other visual quality a physique can possess.

But we train them all wrong and this leads to injuries

Let’s take a moment to examine the two worst offenders when it comes to shoulder pain and injuries;

  1. Shoulder presses (military presses, press-behind-neck, jerks, etc)
  2. The bench press. (In this category, I would also include the plethora of machine movements which mimic these exercises. They’re just as bad.)

“Proper” form on these movements requires that the elbows are kept out to the side-to activate the major muscles.

On shoulder presses in particular, the elbows are supposed to be kept out to the side, supposedly to activate the side head of the deltoids.

This is why the press-behind-neck was invented-the path of the bar behind the neck literally forces the elbows out to the side.

It’s actually quite hard not to keep the elbows flared out when pressing a straight bar, particularly if you are using a wide grip-which is one of the reason wide grips are favored for shoulder presses.

The bench press is no better. The action of the weight coming down on the chest inevitably forces the elbows away from the body. In a bodybuilding coritext, it is usually considered “perfect” form to keep the elbows right out from the torso, nearly in line with the collarbones.

This is supposed to activate the pectorals more. In all presses, a “full range of motion” Is normally advised. This means that the bar touches the body, before being pushed away until the arms are extended, or nearly so.

These movements and their variants are unnatural

In particular, these two major elements of “good” form are incredibly artificial in terms of human biomechanics:

  1. the elbows flaring out to the side of the torso, and;
  2. the bar being brought into contact with the body in the bottom position.

How do I justify the statement that these two respects are unnatural?

Perhaps the best way to understand how the human body is naturally meant to move is to look at how humans instinctively move.

Let’s try to find an everyday movement similar to the shoulder press. Look at a father picking up his child. You’ll notice that in instinctive upwards-pushing movements, the elbows are not splayed out-they are kept forwards.

In fact, if you ask anybody to hold something up overhead, if their positioning allows it, they will always keep their elbows forwards. Splaying the elbows out to the side is totally unnatural. So is pushing from the point of contact.

Think of an instinctive movement similar to the bench press; perhaps pushing a broken-down car, or shoving an attacker away.

In neither instance would you bring the object you are pushing to your chest first. You’d begin the movement with your elbows only bent about halfway.

The body naturally understands that its own structure has more strength and stability that way.

If we lifted weights as we instinctively moved, there would be virtually no chronic injuries in the gym. But we are too “smart” for that.

We force our bodies into artificial positions they never evolved to accommodate; certainly not progressively and with heavy poundages. And then we wonder why we have to live with pain!

The Solution: The Handstand Pushup

As soon as somebody has a shoulder problem in the gym, they will immediately gain relief by reducing their range of motion by about half-by only doing the top half of the exercise, the portion nearest lockout.

During the handstand pushup, the body instinctively positions itself in a position healthiest to the shoulders.

The elbows are invariably kept inside the torso, opposite the chest muscles-pushing them out to the side feels very strange and makes balancing almost impossible, because the body wants to fall forwards in this position.

The handstand pushup would be an important technique in the pantheon of training exercises, provided it simply trained the shoulders without causing injury.

But it gives so much more, it’s almost beyond belief.

Strength, muscle, agility, and health-all in one exercise

  • Performing handstand pushups is the equivalent of shoulder pressing your bodyweight. It may take years (and many injuries) to get to this level of strength with a barbell-in fact, many athletes just never get there. But the average person can learn to do handstand pushups in a matter of months. The result is incredibly powerful, muscularized shoulders in a short span of time.
  • The handstand pushup teaches advanced balance and total-body coordination skills that just can’t be replicated with weights.
  • The simple act of adopting the inverse posture-being upside-down-also has major benefits. The blood supply is reversed-the veins and arteries work against gravity in the opposite direction and become more supple, stronger and healthier.

Now, onto the ten steps.

[note note_color=”#c5e3fa”]Beginners are advised to master close pushups, Step 6 of the regular pushup series before even beginning Step 1 of the handstand pushup series. Doing so will condition your hands, forearms and shoulder girdle to the rigors of supporting the entire bodyweight. Mastering uneven pushups (Step 7) will also strengthen your rotator cuffs and help to iron out any pre-existing shoulder problems before you attempt to support your entire bodyweight in the inverse position.[/note]


Handstand Pushups

1. Wall Headstands

  1. Beginner Standard: 30 seconds
  2. Intermediate Standard: 1 minute
  3. Progression Standard: 2 minutes
 1. Wall Headstands Convict Conditiong

2. Crow Stands

  1. Beginner Standard: 10 seconds
  2. Intermediate Standard: 30 seconds
  3. Progression Standard: 1 minute
2. Crow Stands Convict Conditioning

3. Wall Handstands

  1. Beginner Standard: 30 seconds
  2. Intermediate Standard: 1 minute
  3. Progression Standard: 2 minutes
3. Wall Handstands Convict Conditioniong

4. Half handstand Pushups

  1. Beginner Standard: 1 set of 5
  2. Intermediate Standard: 2 sets of 10
  3. Progression Standard: 2 sets of 20
4. Half Handstand Pushups Convict Conditioning

5. Handstand Pushups

  1. Beginner Standard: 1 set of 5
  2. Intermediate Standard: 2 sets of 10
  3. Progression Standard: 2 sets of 15
5. Handstand Pushups - Convict Conditioning

6. Close Handstand Pushups

  1. Beginner Standard: 1 set of 5
  2. Intermediate Standard: 2 sets of 9
  3. Progression Standard: 2 sets of 12
6. Close Handstand Pushups - Convict Conditioning

7. Uneven Handstand Pushups

  1. Beginner Standard: 1 set of 5 (both sides)
  2. Intermediate Standard: 2 sets of 8 (both sides)
  3. Progression Standard: 2 sets of 10 (both sides)
7. Uneven Handstand Pushups - Convict Conditioning

8. 1/2 One-Arm Handstand Pushups

  1. Beginner Standard: 1 set of 4
  2. Intermediate Standard: 2 sets of 6
  3. Master: 2 sets of 8
8. One Half One Arm Handstand Pushup - Convict Conditioning

9. Lever Handstand Pushups

  1. Beginner Standard: 1 set of 3 (both sides)
  2. Intermediate Standard: 2 sets of 4 (both sides)
  3. Progression Standard: 2 sets of 6 (both sides)
 9. Lever handstand Pushup - Convict Conditioning

10. One-Arm Handstand Pushups

  1. Beginner Standard: 1 set of 1
  2. Intermediate Standard: 2 sets of 2
  3. Master: 1 sets of 5

Master Step Convict Conditioning

 10. One-Arm Handstand Pushup - Convict Conditioning


Download the Convict Conditioning Wall Chart Bundle (zip file)

Previous Convict Conditioning Cheat Sheets can be found here:

  1. Pushups
  2. Squats
  3. Pull Ups
  4. Leg Raises
  5. Bridges

Series Progression Chart  – Handstand Pushups

1. Handstand Series Progression Charts - Convict Conditioning 2. Handstand Series Progression Charts - Convict Conditioning

Training Programs: (for the Busy “Convict”)

The New Blood (Step 1) Good Behavior (Step 2)
The New Blood Training Schedule Good Behavior Training Schedule
  • Practice this program, or a similar routine, during your early work on the ten steps.
  • Once you get past Step 6 on all four of the exercises mentioned, it’s time to move to the next program.
• Good Behavior can be worked into almost anybody’s busy schedule. • This program can (and should) be used by any athlete to achieve solid strength gains-no matter how advanced they are.
The Veterano (step 3) Solitary Confinement (step 4)
The Veterano Trainig Schedule Solitary confinement convict conditioning
  • This workout is good for those with limited time on their hands. Sessions can often be completed in under six or seven minutes per day!
  • Recovery is actually pretty fast during this program because the athlete never works the upper or lower body two days in a row. The exercises alternate in the most efficient manner possible.
  • For athletes looking to gain strength and work their way up through the ten steps, this routine can be very productive. Because only one exercise is performed on a given day, the athlete can really focus and give his all.
  • This program includes ancillary work for the grip, neck, and calves. If you like the idea of trying these extras, but can’t take the daily workload, add a day’s rest between training sessions, or whenever you feel the need .
  • This program is mean. Unless you are in good shape and living clean-regular meals, plenty of sleep, etc.-be prepared to get bullied, big time.


Best of luck, and once again, if you are reading this in jail, please let me know in the comments section below so I can contact my inside connections and send you updates!