Crow Stand to Handstand-Your Gateway to HandStand Pushup

convict conditioning crow stand

What are some ways I can improve my Crow Stand?

If you’re new to Convict Conditioning, you’re probably like most of us who still marvel at the level of strength Paul Wade was able to achieve. But his level of superhuman strength didn’t come easily. He paid the price by doing hard time and patiently building muscle and strength one day at a time while he was in the big house.

A lot of people can manage to muscle out a few standard push-ups, pull-ups, squats, leg raises and bridges in the early stages of Convict Conditioning. But perhaps the most difficult exercise out of the Big Six is handstand push-ups. If you could do handstand push-ups, you’d feel like a real badass, right. But it takes time to build the muscle strength, balance, and coordination to master the move. And one of the best things you can do early on to help you get there is to focus on your Crow Stand.

It’s a classic posed used by gymnasts and bodyweight training disciples of yoga. And developing your Crow Stand is an important part of progressing to those handstand push-up bad-boys. In the perfect Crow Stand pose, your entire body is balanced and supported on your hands, head down, bottom up, and your feet suspended with knees bent and your legs parallel to the ground. Mastering the crow step is a key to help you through the progression series for handstand push-ups. Crow stand to handstand is one of the most popular progression sequence out there yet you see that in the Convict Conditioning Handstand Progression  is second in a queue. Indicating the fundamental value of this exercise. It’s as much of a balance and stability exercise as it is strength. Your shoulders muscles are the primary muscles used to execute the Crow Stand. But it also engages your arms, back, chest, abdominals and other core-stabilizing muscles. All these things you need to be able to progress further.


Here are some things you can do to improve your Crow Stand:

1. Use a Pillow

craw stand to handstand

craw stand to handstand

Aiming all your bodyweight at the ground with your head down as the first point of impact in the Crow Stand isn’t exactly a

heartwarming feeling. It can be intimidating, after all giving yourself a face-plant hurts. And I can only imagine what it was like for Paul Wade to try and master the Crow Stand in a cement prison cell. A good way to improve your Crow Stand is to practice using a pillow. That extra padding can give you the confidence to keep trying to get into position, without hurting your face in the process.


2. Adjust the Position of Your Arms and Knees

Getting off the ground in the Crow Stand is as much technique as it is muscle strength. You’ve got to have enough strength to hold your own body weight in perfect balance. How you position your arms and knees before you even attempt to get in position can make all the difference. For beginners, get in a crouching position, like you’re about to hop like a frog. Place your hands on the ground, palms down, at about shoulder-width. Move your knees in so your inner thigh is touching just above your elbows, and then try to get in position.


If you’re having trouble with the Crow Stand, you may be pointing your knees too high (like to your armpits), and making it more difficult to get in position.


3. Practice Pike Presses

Another technique you can use to improve your ability to perform the Crow Stand is the Pike Press. This bodyweight exercise is designed to help you develop strength in key muscle groups needed to perform the Crow Stand.  And there are a couple variations that can help you. Watch this video to see how to do this exercise

Place your hands on the ground, arms straight, with your bottom up, bent at the waist. Just practice holding this position for 30 seconds to a minute at a time. When you can do that, you can advance to more challenging versions of the Pike Press to help with your crow stand.

To make the Pike Press more challenging, get in the position described above and slowly lower your head to the ground, bending your arms as you descend. When your head touches the ground, push up using your arms and shoulders to return to the starting position. Adjusting the angle of your body will target different muscle groups as you perform this exercise.

Elevating your feet on a chair or bench and performing the Pike Press makes this exercise more challenging, and will further develop the strength you need for the Crow Stand. You can also perform the Pike Press by placing two benches side by side, and starting with both your feet and upper body above the ground.

Kick-Up Wall Handstands

Kick-up wall handstands can also help you develop the strength and coordination you need for Crow Stands. To get in the Crow Stand position, you’ve got to be able to kick your feet up enough to sense how to balance the rest of your body weight. Here is a good video with some instructions.


Have you mastered the Crow Stand? Or are you on your way? Let us know how you’re doing on the road to super human strength.


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Jeff Cowan

Professional trainer, ex cross-fitter and a long time calisthenic practitioner. Started with Convict Conditioning and developed levels of strength which led him to street workouts championships. Jeff writes about everything calisthenics focusing on control development, skill progression as well as injuries (as he got a few). He would love to hear from you and answer any questions you might have.

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