CrossFit’s dynamic movements, in varying levels of skill, contribute to making it both fun and challenging at the same time. CrossFit is a methodology comprised of ten recognized fitness domains. This unique formula and it’s diverse programming capabilities lends itself to hundreds (if not thousands) of challenging yet scalable workout combinations. Whether you’re a beginner or professional CrossFit athlete, your Workout of the Day (WOD) is subject to change drastically on a daily basis.
Want to RX it? You Need Pull Ups!
As if this ever-changing, ever-challenging workout regimen wasn’t enough to keep you on your toes;you’re met with the challenge to RX all elements, every time. RX is defined as the prescribed weight, reps and movements for a particular workout. As any new crossfitter can attest, it doesn’t take long for the glorified “RX” label to transform from a “nice to have” to a “need to have.” However, it’s important to remember the RX level of skill doesn’t come without many failed attempts at CrossFit’s hardest movements, including the elusive pull up.
FRAN is an example of a common, yet deceivingly challenging, CrossFit workout that many people aspire to RX. Fear not – our very own Rob Wilson, CrossFit Virginia Beach Coach and Programmer, is going to walk us through how to assess and improve your pull up strength.
Pull Up Strength Training
According to Coach Rob Wilson in his article published on TrainHeroic.com, Stuck in Pull Up Purgatory? Here’s How to Go from Zero to Hero, in order to master the pull up it’s important to properly organize the trunk, strengthen everything around your scapula, and practice skills as skills.
- Properly organize the trunk. Keeping your abdominal and your butt engaged will help maximize your nervous system involvement. Allowing yourself to writhe around like an earthworm getting baked on a summer sidewalk will not help you accomplish your goal.
- Strengthen everything around your scapula. Our shoulder blades are anchors for the shoulder joint, and controlling their position allows us to use larger muscle groups to do the heavy lifting. If you do this, expect all your barbell movements to get better, too!
- Practice skills as skills. For beginners — and you are one if you have less than 3 strict pull ups — doing galactic s#!tloads of pull ups or sloppy kipping gets you nowhere. Even though it’s important to do vertical pulling when developing this specific pattern, we can more effectively increase strength by exercising pulling muscles with dumbbells, barbells, and ring rows. By combining these with our skill practice, we can effectively integrate our strength with our skill.
Pull Up Assessments
In the following videos, Coach Rob Wilson and Coach Thomi Gill walk you through how to conduct the fixed arm hang and strict pull up tests. Once you record your max time, visit Coach Rob Wilson’s article on TrainHeroic.com to see how you measure up and how you can improve!
Flexed Arm Hang Test
- Set up a jump box under a bar
- Grab the bar in a chin up grip (palms facing you)
- Jump up so that your chin is clearly over the bar
- Hold for max time
Strict Pull Up Test
- Start in a fully hanging position with palms facing out
- Legs should be straight with feet together and trunk braced tight
- Pull chin clearly over the bar and return to the start position with control