Monday, January 25, 2010

Pull ups


Alright, since we are getting deadheads and everyone is a little burnt out on Paleo and breaking to 1st and 2nd cheats, let's shoot off topic. This is a good read from Gillian Mounsey's blog ( :

This week’s question concerns pull ups.

“I have been crossfitting for 4 months and am still working on getting a pull-up. I have seen it come faster for some of the other women in class. I can almost kip my chin over the bar once but I am no where close to having a dead hang pull-up. How can I improve my pull-ups? Also, is it bad to start kipping pull-ups before being able to do a strict one?”

The answer to this question is simple in response but requires effort on your part. To get better at pull-ups you must do pull-ups. The best way to attack this skill is to address it in a variety of ways depending on the workout.

1. If the workout mandates high volume pull-ups, consider using a band for assistance. The band allows you to develop strength through a full range of motion. Once you can string 10 or more pull-ups together in the band, opt for a lighter band. Jumping pull-ups are great as a metabolic and functional movement but they do not develop strength at the bottom range (the part where you jump through).

2. Incorporate pull-ups into your workout as a skill in the warm-up when your body is fresh. Additionally, incorporate pull-ups after the workout. Sometimes when you are fatigued, your body becomes efficient at the kip to save energy.

3. Make a habit of jumping up on every pull-up bar that you pass by and giving it a shot. Hang one in a doorway at home and try one everytime you walk in and out of the room (I’m serious, this is how I got good at pull-ups as a kid).

4. Practice negatives. Either jump your chin over the bar or have a partner assist you to get your chin over the bar. Lower yourself slowly till you achieve full elbow lockout. 3 sets of 3 to 5 consecutive reps is a great place to start.

5. Partner assisted pull ups is one of the best ways to learn a dead-hang pull-up. Hang with your ankles crossed behind you and have a partner cup your feet and assist you – ensure that you do as much of the work as possible. The partner should allow you to do the negative on your own.

6. Play a game. Make pull-ups fun by turning them into a challenge. A good example is to grab a deck of cards with another 2-3 people. Go through the deck doing the number that you draw on the card. Let all of the face cards represent a single pull-up. Let the red cards represent kipping pull-ups and the black cards dead hangs. Have a friend spot you if you need it on the dead hangs and use a band for the kipping pull-ups.

To answer the second question, no , kipping pull-ups are not “bad” or dangerous before you have a dead-hang pull-up. The beauty of a functional movement such as a pull-up is that if you are not ready or strong enough to do one, you simply won’t be able to. Practice both as they will mutually help one another. It is imperative to understand that one is a strict upper body strength movement and the other uses momentum and timing.

My best advice is to practice as many types of pull-ups as possible. You will be less likely to develop overuse injuries and you will continue to grow as an athlete.

1 comment:

  1. Rudy or anyone,

    This is a bit off topic but I am just wondering if anyone else is feeling this way.
    Some days I feel trim and ready to go at it and others like today I feel a bit fat and bloated. I have been eating clean and I have had one cheat meal and one night of drinking (only 4 drinks) since we started (no drinking since the 2nd). Besides adding more veggies I am not sure why I look and feel this way at times.