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15 Jul

We’re starting a little series called “Progressions” where we include different progressions for practice after class or on your own. Today, we’ll start with the one movement we get the most questions for, the pull up!

Usually when talking about the pull up and what’s keeping you from getting your first one we talk about both pulling strength and grip strength. When we scale pull ups in WODs we usually go with jumping or banded pull ups. Although you do get a good conditioning stimulus, you don’t get much pulling or grip strength benefits from doing them. Here are a few exercises that we can work on to get the necessary strength for these strict pull ups (remember take your time and make the variations as tough as possible for optimal strength):

The Dead Hang
With palms facing away from you, jump on the bar and hang with a timer. If you can’t hang on a bar for 30 seconds, there’s a good chance you can’t perform a strict pull up either.


The Ring Row
Start with the rings by your hips. Walk back to full arm extension and then lean back so that your feet start creeping back towards the rings. The lower you go, the harder the pull will be so play around with this. Make sure when you pull your body up to the rings you maintain a nice hollow position with active shoulders. Our goal will be to get as horizontal as possible while still maintaining perform form.


Sitting Pull ups
These are great for simulating even closer what a pull up feels like. You’ll set up the kids bar or a barbell to a height where you’re hanging or your butt barely touches the ground. You also want to be behind the bar so that it allows you to pull straight up and not horizontally. Start with your feet on the ground and knees bent and as you pull your chin to the bar, use your feet enough to barely make it up. As you get stronger you’ll be able to put a plate or a box underneath your feet so that the pull is even more demanding.


This is the finisher. Jump yourself as high as you can and lower yourself with control over 4 seconds. Start by getting your eyes to the bar and then lowering with control and eventually get to the point where your chest touches the bar and then lower down.


Day 1:
Sitting Pull ups 3×6, Rest 1:30 between sets
Negatives 5×4, Rest 1:30 between sets

Day 2:
Ring Rows 4×8, Rest 1:30 between sets
Dead Hangs 3 x FAILURE, Rest as needed

Day 3:
Sitting Pull ups 3×5, then 1 x FAILURE, Rest 1:30 between sets
Negatives 5×5, Rest 1:30 between sets


Talk to your coaches and they’ll point you towards the right direction with the movements and progressions. Happy pulling!

08 Sep

In CrossFit, we all love to kip so we can get work done faster. What happens when strict handstand push ups are programmed into a workout though? What we see as coaches is a lack of shoulder strength and stabilization. Here are a few exercises that you can perform so we can get you stronger upside down!

1. Handstand Holds – 1 or 2 max holds, increase by 10 seconds every week
This is our home base. Shoulder stability and balance are the two main things worked here. Make sure you’re staying in a hollow position and when you see that go away, kick out of the handstand.
HS Hold
2. Negative Handstand Push ups – 5 sets of 5 reps @ 3 seconds, increase to 4 and then 5 seconds
Make sure you set a towel or abmat underneath before we start this. You’ll begin in the handstand position and you will descend slowly and controlled over 3 seconds. Once your head hits the abmat, kick out. This will help develop the strength and balance you need for full range push ups.

3. Shoulder Press – Go heavy!
We usually take care of these in our classes, but the stronger we are in the shoulder press the stronger we will be in the handstand push up. The motion is very similar.
Press Bottom  Press Top
4. Partial Handstand Push ups – 3 to 5 sets of 5 reps, lower target as you progress
Set up a series of towels or abmats and lets get you pushing away with partial reps. You will lock out but you only go down as far as you have the towels and abmats set up. As you get stronger, you will remove some of these so you can get lower and lower.
HS Neg Bottom  HS Neg Top

Your goal is to practice this consistently. Three days per week, nailing these exercises will get those handstand push ups in no time! Good luck everyone!