How did such a simple exercise become such an object of affection and hatred?  More than half of all the goals I see here at CFSL involve pull ups in some capacity.  I see pull ups in WODs cause such anger, I start thinking we should keep sharp objects away from the member.   I have to admit pull ups have caused me some serious anger in my days.  First of all, let’s find our happy place and just treat them as any other exercise.  Mastering them is awesome and the road of work needed to get to that point is awesome too.  On this road I want you all to pay attention to some very important mile markers.

1.  Getting a solid strict pull up.  This does not involve kicking and flailing your legs like you are frog or running in place.  Why the strict?  Because you must have the strength in your upper body to support you for moving on to the kipping pull up.  This strength transfers to so many other exercises, but for now I am only talking about the pull up.

2.  Know before you go…to the kipping pull up.  Did you know that a kipping pull up requires greater than 180 degrees of flexion of you shoulder?  So what?  Well if you can’t put your arms straight up behind your ears without difficulty and you expect to get your shoulders back that far while swinging with all your bodyweight on these joints, what do you think is going to happen?  Something has to give right?  Usually its your shoulder.  Did you know that when you are swinging with all your bodyweight hanging on your arms that there is a moment during the swing that the force on your arms is actually greater than your bodyweight?  If your muscles aren’t taking up that force, what is?  Your ligaments, tendons and joint?  Ouchy!  Point being: GET STRONG ENOUGH AND FLEXIBLE ENOUGH TO MOVE ON!

3.  The weighted strict pull up:  because I want you so damn strong on the pull up you could pull yourself up when dangling off a cliff holding onto your dog with one arm.   Not to mention, to get better at the basic pull up you,  must continue to push your limits.

4.  The butterfly:  this basically falls under the same category as kipping.  It requires a little more coordination, for some people.  It requires equally, if not more, flexibility and strength to support your joints during the downward motion of the swing.

Lastly, tips for getting better at pull ups:

  •  If it’s your grip that keeps you from achieving pull up greatness, work on the larger diameter bar (that’s the one on the beam), do towel pull ups, farmer’s carry, and regular grip deadlifts.
  • If you truly want to get strong enough to get off the band, you MUST do pull ups damn near every day.  Yes, every day.  Find something around you to do it on.  A branch, an open stair, home bar, etc.
  • In workouts, suffer with the lighter bands so you can build that strength.  With that being said, make sure you are doing full range of motion.  If you never come fully down or fully over the bar, you are not getting stronger at those ranges.
  • Work on lowering yourself slowly and/or having someone pull you down slowly and safely.  If you don’t have someone to pull you, try weighted negatives.  *be cautious though, these can really make you sore and fragile.

Have you heard enough about pull ups today?  Go forth and conquer those pull ups, just do it in a methodical way that keeps you healthy, proficient, and always improving.

Saturdays’ WOD:

Team Chipper


Wall Climbs

Dumbbell Push Press

Kettlebell Swings




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