Bird Pull Ups & Handstand Push Ups

February 23, 2016 by VAHVA Fitness

Advanced workout routine consisting of two super exercises: Bird pull ups and handstand push ups.

The key to high performance is progressive overload and increased complexity. Beginners should start with the less complex movement patterns but then gradually move towards more complex ones. 

These two exercises are at the other end of the complexity spectrum. Bird pull ups are one of the hardest pull up variations you can do, and there aren't many harder pushing exercises than freestanding handstand push ups. 

Before these two exercises, you should first master:

Everything has progressions to it and by following those progressions you should get close to bird pull ups and freestanding handstand push ups for sure. 

Because these two exercises are 1. difficult, 2. strenuous, high amount of sets (5+) and low amount of reps (1 to 5) is recommended for the best results. 

Bird Pull Up

bird pull up

Bird pull up is an L-sit behind the neck pull up and one of the hardest pull up variations for both strength and mobility.

The demands for the shoulder girdle strength and mobility are high: the legs create counter balance which almost forces your body to stay upright. This places your muscles in a difficult position to pull. 

Then, when you pull it behind the neck, it not only requires a high level of flexibility, but your arms will fly completely to the sides, which forces you to pull with shoulder adduction alone.

This will heavily train the teres major muscle in addition to lats and other back muscularity. 

Freestanding Handstand Push Up

handstand push ups

Freestanding handstand push ups are a beast move, because not only you need to be strong enough to push your entire bodyweight, you also have to balance to stay in the position.

Handstand push up will work the muscles involved in vertical pushing: these include triceps, deltoids, upper chest and trapezius muscles. 

Handstand push ups are ultimately the bodyweight equivalent to the barbell overhead press except when you are doing them freestanding, it requires more juice from the central nervous system because there's the balance factor. 

In addition to the working muscles, many stabilizer muscles need to work extra hard which is good for the entire upper body. 

Finishing the Workout 

If you watch the video, the workout also has two additional exercises:

1. Back Pull Ups / Scapula Pull Ups

scapula pull ups

Scapula pull up or back pull ups or leaning back pull ups.

These are pull ups done in a heavy backward lean. You are basically pulling yourself behind with your scapula and then doing pull up reps while leaning back. 

If you want to achieve the notorious front lever, then this exercise will be a good friend of yours.

This will nicely work the scapula pulling muscles like lats, long head of triceps and teres major.

2. Lats Pulldown

Machines can be a great tool to isolate a muscle after your workout. They offer a tool to work on your imbalances and muscles that might get less attention otherwise.

Machines aren't evil and they are only one tool among many. The movement and bodyweight practitioners often completely disregard the value of machines and that's limited. 

However, unless you are an elderly, you should first focus on building your body with bodyweight movements and free weights, and then you can work on the weaknesses by using any tools available. 

Train hard, stay safe. 


samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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