New Handstand Walk Obstacle Course

New Handstand Walk Obstacle Course

2007 Fittest Man on Earth James FitzGerald Comments on How to Tackle This New Movement

The first three weekends of the CrossFit Regionals competition series kicks off on May 18th, only two weeks from today. Athletes who have qualified for Regionals positions have been practicing and perfecting every single movement and skill in an effort to prepare for the competition.

Just last week, the Director of the CrossFit Games, Dave Castro, shook up the upcoming competition by announcing and showcasing a new ‘obstacle-course’ handstand piece of equipment that will be coming to and used on the competition floor. Take a look at his recent instagram post.

In his video, the athlete (Lexi Beal) handstand walks up a ramp, which is often called a cheese mat in gymnastics, and then down a backside mini set of steps. Castro writes in his video’s description, “Coming soon to a Regional near you…Teams and individuals you have been warned. (Available for purchase at -demo athlete @lexibeal”

Just what is this piece of equipment?

The piece of equipment they are using is called the ‘CrossFit™ StairStep & Incline Mats’. It is available for purchase at for about $1,620 USD. Though this piece of equipment is new, handstand obstacle courses are not new to CrossFit Competition. In fact, the first time a handstand obstacle course was present in an official CrossFit Competition, was during the 2017 Invitational. Athletes competed in a two minute time capped event which involved handstands walking over plates and around a zigzag course. Our very own OPEX Athlete and Fittest Woman in the United States, Tennil Reed, competed in this same event. She managed to complete the walk in record time, winning her heat and pushing Team USA to win the event overall.

At present, there are no details available about how this piece of equipment or the concept of a handstand obstacle course will be used in the upcoming regionals competitions.

How To Train For This Obstacle Course Event

If you are going to regionals or simply want to give this type of course a try, there are several ways to do so that don’t involve paying a lot of money to CrossFit to get the ‘official’ gymnastics blocks.

For example, you could use olympic plates or weightlifting blocks to construct your own obstacle course. Almost every CrossFit affiliate has both of these instrument readily available for anyone to use. In fact, it’s highly recommended that you practice this way instead of the gradual incline the ‘official’ matt provides.

James FitzGerald, Founder of OPEX Fitness and 2007 Fittest Man on Earth, shared why you should practice with the blocks in a recent session with our sponsored athletes here are OPEX HQ. You can watch the practice session below and hear the rationale at the 9:47 mark in the video below.

So why should we create stairs with blocks instead of using the mat for the gradual incline?

James FitzGerald: With the constant increase provided by the incline, you can do these smaller pieces so your lower body can adapt. Whereas with these big jumps, when your hand goes up, your thorax has to extend tremendously to accommodate that, and now you’re unstable, right? Unless you do a Jacob Kepner, you know, “bench press crab.” Where your feet are basically on your head and you’re like this. It would work! You’re basically taking everything out of your mid-back.

Essentially, the physical demands required of handstand walking up and down steps is enormous compared the physical demands of walking up and down a slight incline. In order to prepare for competitions like the CrossFit Regionals, it’s always best to prepare yourself by practicing the more complicated portions of the obstacle courses. Skills and strength will transfer over to the incline portion.

What do you think about the new handstand course obstacle piece of equipment coming to the CrossFit Regionals? Let us know in the comments below!

CrossFit® is a registered trademark of CrossFit, Inc. OPEX Fitness’s uses of the CrossFit® mark are not endorsed by nor approved by CrossFit, Inc., and OPEX Fitness is in no way affiliated with nor endorsed by CrossFit, Inc.

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