05 Apr 2015
A big part of what we try to do is to achieve Virtuosity – performing the common uncommonly well. This is not sexy, per se, but it is paramount to developing truly exceptional fitness. If you watch any of the best athletes competing in any sport, you will see as close to flawless movement as possible.
When mechanics are sound you are more efficient, more powerful. You can better express strength and fitness. These next 8 weeks we are going to pound the basics. We are especially focusing on improving pull-ups (strict then kipping) as well as dips (strict only). Lets review a few principles for each.
- Pull-up Progressions
- Ring Rows
- Strict Pull-ups in a band
- Jumping Pull-ups/Negatives/Flex Arm Hangs
- Strict Pull-ups
- With Load
- Kip Swings
- Kipping Pull-ups
- Dip Progressions
- Bench Dips
- Stationary Dips in a band
- Jumping Dips/Negatives/Dip Supports
- Stationary Dips
- With load
- Ring Dips
- With load
If you cannot perform pull-ups, the best starting point are ring rows. This will begin providing the strength for the shoulder girdle and is a gateway to the vertical pull-up. After you can complete 3 sets of 15 reps with excellent form at around 30 degrees. You can begin working in some strict pull-ups with a band. NEVER should there be any kipping in a band. Choose the lightest band you can complete at least 5 reps with and then build up to being able to complete 10 to 15 reps unbroken before moving to the next lightest band. Continue this sequence until you have moved through all of the bands. By this time you can also begin working in some negatives (jump up and slowly lower yourself down to full arm extension), flex arm hangs, and jumping pull-ups. We will not ask you to perform these in a conditioning WOD because they can cause serious trauma when performed under high volume and for speed.
You are now finally ready to begin performing strict pull-ups. Here is a great article outlining how to keep working on getting more strict pull-ups from CrossFit Virtuosity. Even 4 years later, I have not come across a different version that works as well AND you will see that it has work for getting better at upper body pushing movements (the second focus for these next 8 weeks). Once you can complete 5-10 strict pull-ups without coming off the bar, you can begin adding some external loading to your pull-up. Start light and make small jumps.
Kipping pull-ups are a necessity in what we do because it allows you to do more work in less time. Therefore as soon as you are performing pull-ups with a band for assistance, we will begin teaching you the kip swing. Caution! We don’t want you to begin performing kipping pull-ups until you can perform at least 5 strict pull-ups. This is to ensure you have developed the strength of the shoulder girdle to withstand the force placed upon it by kipping pull-ups.
The progression to performing ring dips mirrors the pull-up progression in a very similar fashion. You can carry over the same rep schemes as you make your way up the ladder to the next progression. Notice there is no mention of utilizing a band once you are beyond the stationary dip? The rings are a dynamic plane and if you cannot stabilize them with your own strength, you have no reason to be on them. Respect the progressions and you will get there.
The DIP progression will end at strict ring dips with the kipping ring dip not being taught. The reason for this is to ensure tension is maintained throughout the entire movement and the shoulder girdle is always stabilized. If you are able to pick up a “kipping” rhythm on your own, so be it.
The number one thing I want to convey here is be patient with the progressions. This isn’t about today, tomorrow, or next month. This is about doing this correctly so that you have a base strength that will stay with you forever and PREVENT injuries to the shoulder rather than contribute to injuries.
Determine where you are presently, drop the ego at the door, and begin working towards the next progression. Don’t place a time frame on this, just come in and put in the work every time you walk through the doors. In no time you will be moving up the ladder.
Conditioning: Complete reps of 21-15-9 for time
Bodyweight Back Squats
Skill/Strength: Abs – accumulate 10 minutes of ab work
Strength: EMOM 12 – 3 Clean and Jerk
continue to add weight as you are able
Conditioning: AMRAP 10
10 Deadlift, 155/100
10 AbMat Sit-ups
Strength: Back Squat 2RM
Perform 7 sets of 2 reps
Conditioning: Row (calories)
Repeat 5 rounds of a 30 calorie row for time
rest 1:00 between efforts
Strength/Skill: Turkish Get-ups
Practice your TGU for 15 minutes. Work up to as heavy of a load as you are able with PERFECT FORM
Conditioning: Complete for time with a 20 minute cap.
30 Snatches, 75/55
30 Snatches, 105/75
30 Snatches, 135/95
15 Snatches, 165/115
A. Strict Pull-ups – 5 x submax reps
B. 5 x Handstand hold for max time or handstand walk for max distance
Conditioning: Complete 4 rounds for time of:
7 Handstand push-ups
30 Unbroken Double Unders
Complete for time in a group of 4:
50 Thrusters, 95/65
10 Rope Climbs
40 Thrusters, 95/65
8 Rope Climbs
30 Thrusters, 95/65
6 Rope Climbs
Work must be divided evenly and only one person may work at a time.
02 Apr 2015
I hope you had a good April 1st yesterday and you’re ready for the warmer months to start taking hold. This month we’ll be working on a few different gymnastic skills. When practicing gymnastic skills it helps to know what your current ability is and how you’re going to progress to a higher skill movement. The video above contains all of the different progressions I have used to improve my Pistol. Take a look and get excited to master a pistol in addition to other gymnastic movements this month. If you have any questions or need any help let me know or grab me next time you’re in.
Also, pistols are a good skill to learn if you’d like to scull (aka – row) on the water with me this Summer. As the weather gets nicer I will be hosting a couple of learn to scull seminars for anyone that’s interested in trying out for the Renegade Rowing Team. If you’re interested in learning to scull let me know in the comments or send me an email. I will be sure to keep you in the loop.
When’s the last time you performed a Deadlift? When’s the last time you picked something up off the floor? Yesterday we got a chance to do Deadlifts and Rowing. I wanted to use my post today to highlight some of the similarities between the two and what I think about when performing both movements.
First things first, anytime you pick something up you should be deadlifting, because that’s what a deadlift is. It’s the strongest, most efficient, most powerful way to pick something up off the floor.
I believe that if you can learn to hip hinge and deadlift correctly you can and will become a better rower. The key is how you deadlift and what you focus on.
Take a look at my hip hinge and deadlift above. What parts of the deadlift can we tie to the rowing stroke? I always teach the skills of 1. Posture, 2. Control, and 3. Connection whether it’s rowing or weightlifting.
1. Posture – How am I doing at maintaining a solid brace through my torso? Is there any movement within the vertebrae of the spine?
2. Control – Is the bar traveling in a straight line over the middle of my foot? Am I in control of my body and the bar? Can I stop at any point in time and be in a strong position?
3. Connection – How am I connected to the bar? How am I connected to the floor? Are my hips, hands, and shoulders connected when the bar is below the knee?
After taking a look and answering some of these questions, think about your own rowing stroke. In the front end of your stroke, from 1/2 slide up to the catch and back, how do your joints move in relation to one another and what does your body angle look like? Does it stay the same? When does your body start to swing open? Do you feel or see any similarities when you deadlift and row back to back? Can perfecting one movement help improve the other?
Please share your thoughts to comments and checkout RenegadeRowing.com for more content on rowing and lifting.
15 Mar 2015
Surprise! I know… it’s been a hot minute. Well I’ve got some things I hope to address (or shall we say readdress for some of us). Today I only discuss one though. And this is how you “handle” the barbell. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this error, addressed it (notice I didn’t say fix it?), and seen dramatic changes in how the ensuing movement is performed.
Let’s first take a look at what I’m talking about. Here is a picture of “poor” handling of a barbell.
What you will notice is that it kinda looks like I’m not really sure if I want to handle this kind of weight. It looks like I’m just going through the motions of lifting weight versus believing that I can do whatever I want with this weight.
Here’s what I’m talking about. Does it look like I have a solid grasp on the bar? Or does it look more like I’m barely hanging on to the bar? Exactly! Now if that bar were to go overhead, what do you think would happen? Would you have full control of that bar? You’re right, probably not. (I’ll address overhead grip in another post, don’t you worry.)
Another reason you should want to grab that bar tightly: radial tension. When you squeeze the bar tightly, you activate other muscles in your forearms which activate other muscles further upstream, generating more power output. Sounds like a deal to me! Extra weight simply for grabbing ahold of the bar tightly? Yes please!
Here’s a picture of what this should look like:
Which one looks like it is going to be moved with intent? Good. Now go practice this EVERY. SINGLE. TIME you pick up the bar. I’ve got a feeling that you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how it affects your movement.
07 Sep 2014
“I can’t do handstand push-ups! How do I get better at pistols? I just can’t figure out Double-Under’s.”
Alright everyone. We hear you. And we’ve decided to do something about it. Here’s the deal. We are going to be working on some skills that are plaguing our members. Skills are to be worked on before or after class. The daily skill and their progressions will be posted on the whiteboard for the day and then moved to another whiteboard for you to come back to and catch up on skills you chose to work on. (If this doesn’t make sense, it will. It promise.) You should do these skills and their progressions at least once per week, but can do them more if you so choose. Just make sure to give yourself some recovery time if you’re feeling beat-up.
So let’s get right into it. Here is the first section on the Handstand Push-up skill work. Let’s first define to which Training Phase you belong.
There are 4 phases depending on where you stand with the handstand pushup.
Phase 1: Unable to do 1 strict OR kipping HSPU
Phase 2: No strict, but able to do kipping HSPU
Phase 3: 1-5 unbroken strict HSPU
Phase 4: 5+ unbroken strict HSPU
You are not permanently in this phase, rather you will graduate as soon as you are able to achieve the next levels requirements. So now that you know where you fall, lets get to work. Perform these 1-3x/week (preferably on HSPU skill day and every other day). Next week will be new skills to work on or add into your HSPU training.
5 x 5 Handstand Push-Up Negatives @ 30A1; Rest 90 seconds (A= reset)
5 x 5 Handstand Push-Up Negatives @ 40A1; Rest 90 seconds (A= reset)
5 x 5 Handstand Push-Up Negatives @ 50A1; Rest 90 seconds (A= reset)
5 x 5 Handstand Push-Up Negatives @ 60A1; Rest 90 seconds (A= reset)
Alright, get to work!
03 Sep 2014
Coach Pat’s Pistol Program!
That’s right CFB! It’s September! One of my favorite months of the year. Students are back in town and everyone at the gym is looking forward to crushing some goats this fall. At least I hope you are!
Every Thursday this month I’ll be posting some extra programming for you to do before or after class to improve your pistol. As the weeks go by you’ll be able to progress through the program based on your ability in the pistol. Today’s programming is below. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes.
Set a clock for 20 minutes and work through all letters. After progressing through all letters, perform a pistol Test. How many pistols can you do? If you can do more than one, repeat all letters with more weight and a lower target. If you still can’t do a pistol, repeat all of the letters at level I. Continue this process until 20 minutes is up.
A. Over Head Squat w/ dowel or bar 3×5
B. Good Morning w/ Dowel 3×15
C. Hollow Body 3×10 3″ Hold
D. Seated Pistol on Bench 3×5
Next week I’ll reveal level two, so get after it today and be ready to work for Level 2 next week.
Post how many pistols you get today or where you’re at in regards to your pistol!
FIRE IT UP! FIRE IT UP!
This is the final week of the 2104 CrossFit Games Open 14.5. What a great workout to finish it off with. Two low skill movements that just require you to have an engine! I love it! I mean I hate it because I am 6’3″ 240 pounds and that is A LOT of mass to move up and down for 84 reps, but hey it is what it is!
Here is some tips and strategy from Barbell Shrugged:
2014 REEBOK CROSSFIT GAMES REGIONALS
It’s still a little early but our very own Carla B is sitting nicely in 34th for the Northeast Region. She has been busting her butt all year and it is paying off for her. This workout plays to her strengths as she can go and go and go! If you see her in the gym today or over the weekend let her know that you are rooting for her to kill it!
We will be setting up a tent at Regionals for members that wish to head down and cheer. We will keep you posted as the date draws near.
This Saturday, tomorrow, beginning at 6pm is our Spring Fling at Daedalus in Harvard Square. The 2014 Transformation Challenge winner will be announced and it will be an opportunity to kick back, celebrate the end of the Open season, and welcome Spring into Boston. Be sure to come on by!
Strength work continues in our programming along with a continued emphasis on strengthening the midline as well. You will notice in this weeks programming there is AB work to be completed on your own outside of the class. Don’t skip it. It is important and it will help you in the WOD and the rest of your training.
PR Friday is back! Each Friday there will either be a benchmark WOD or we will attempt to PR a lift. Get excited and set your hair on fire!
Saturday – 3/29
1. Run 400m x 5
rest 2:00 between efforts
2. 15-12-9 reps for time
Front squat, 185/125
3. Abs – Post class – 3 x 1 minute plank holds with a load on the back
Sunday – 3/30
1. Partner WOD
10 Handstand push ups
20 Pull ups
60 Double Unders
Both Partners must complete the workout in its entirety. Only one person working at a time and you may alternate in any fashion you wish. Neither partner can move on the next movement until both have completed the preceding movement.
2. Post Class ABS – 20 Ball ups (STRICT)
Monday – 3/31
1. Heaving Snatch Balance – work up to a heavy single, then drop to 90% of that weight and perform 6 more sets at that weight.
2. EMOM 12
1 Snatch, 165#/115#
3. POST CLASS ABS – 15 STRICT BACK EXTENSIONS (3-1-3) TEMPO
Tuesday – 4/1
1. Shoulder Press – 3 x 3 – work up to a heavy 3 and perform a total of 3 sets at this weight. Do not drop
2. AMRAP 15
Row 30 calories
20 Push Press, 75/55
20 OH swings, 32kg/24kg
20 Box Jumps, 24″/20″
3. POST CLASS ABS – 3X10 GHD SIT UPS
Wednesday – 4/2
1. “FRAN” – TEST DAY
21-15-9 reps for time of
2a. 100 Hollow Rocks
2b. Dip supports (top & bottom)
Thursday – 4/3
1. Clean – work up to a max double for the day (18 minutes)
2. Handbalancing – 5 minutes to practice walking on your hands
3. 30-20-10 reps for time
Knee to elbows
PR Friday – 4/4
1. Back Squat – 4 x 2, work up to a heavy double (attempt a PR if you have it) and then drop down to 90% of that weight and perform 4 sets of 2 reps at that weight.
2. For time
100 Alternating DB Snatch, 60/40
50 Mountain Climbers
25 AbMat sit ups
Olympic Lifting and Rowing?
What do you think about using Olympic Lifting in training to be a Rower or using Rowing to be a better Olympic Lifter? Both require speed and power and incorporate similar movement patterns. However, in rowing you sit down and are in contact with three surfaces. In Olympic Lifting you are only in contact with two. In Olympic lifting the goal is to transfer forces vertically and in rowing the goal is to transfer forces horizontally. Where do you see the most benefit in training with both? Are there downfalls?
One skill, concept, and idea that I keep coming back to is Connection. Coaching people in the gym and on the water allows me to see many different movement patterns and levels of ability.
Athletes that grasp this idea of connection from one joint to another and one external object to another are able to learn faster, create more power, and transfer skills to other movements. Learning to connect the hips to the hands as you initiate a movement or connect your feet to your hands at the catch, both in rowing and snatching, is invaluable. Once this skill is perfected the possibilities are endless.
Yesterday morning I introduced the snatch to the BC Men’s Crew Team. While we only worked with PVC pipes to begin with and 45# bars in the workout, the importance of generating speed through the middle of the drive and being turned on at the catch became apparent. Those that had explosive hip extension from rowing and knew how to create speed on the oar through the middle of the drive in the boat had a lot more success transferring that skill to the barbell.
Using the Clean and the Snatch to generate speed on the drive through good connection is a lot of fun. Rowers become athletes and are empowered to push harder by learning new movements and finding power they never knew they had. It’s also a lot of fun seeing olympic lifters and other athletes learn to row because it helps them to find more connection and speed in their lifts.
Post your thoughts to comments! Any experience transferring skills from one sport to another?
14 Nov 2013
I was reading an article online about the quality standards of CrossFit gyms. Luckily, I feel we at CFB fall into most, if not all, categories of what makes a good “box.” Anyway, I read one portion in particular and it was almost as if I had written the article. Not only is it solid advice, but I think I may have said something like this a few times before. Anyway, here it is. Take it to heart. This doesn’t just apply to pull-ups btw…
“Quality of Movement Stressed Over Type of Movement
Do you get annoyed by your coach chattering on about technique? Do you zone them out when they suggest strict pull-ups with a band instead of kipping pull-ups? “By golly I’m not getting a band! I can kip the crap out of 2-3 pull-ups!” Face palm. Suck it up buttercup, no one cares if you need a band. We’ve all been there and the only person you’re holding back is yourself. If you have an annoying coach that chooses kinder words than mine to express the same idea, hug him or her the next time you see them. You are blessed.”
13 Nov 2013
How do you Master Skills?
As Winter starts to set in and you start working toward your goals, be aware of how you recover and master skills. One goal you’ll probably set for the Winter is to master a new skill, like double unders, hand stand push-ups, or muscle ups. I want to draw your attention to how you attack these skills and actually master them.
To master a skill is to know and have full control over every piece of a skill, both physically and mentally, when your fresh and your fatigued. Lately we’ve been pushing the intensity in the gym and many people have found themselves sore and out of it for a few days. One example would be Coach Tito and Carla of CrossFit Boston competing at the Southie Throwdown this past weekend. They literally were crushed from back to back competition days. What would you do on the Monday following a weekend like that?
The days following a hard training day are perfect for mastering a new skill through active recovery. Rather than going back for a second or third hard training day and not performing at full intensity, commit to an active recovery day focused on mastery of the skills you’d like to develop. Carla did just that on Monday.
Rather than join in on the 7am class at CFB, she took 1 hour out of her day to actively recover, instead of sitting around and feeling sore. She set the erg for 2,000m of work and 10min of rest. She rowed an easy 2k and then spent 10 minutes working on her goats, handstand push ups, pull ups, and Toes to Bar. Three sets of this active recovery interval scheme gave her confidence with her skills and prepared her for a hard training day on Tuesday.
The erg is a great tool to use as active recovery. A few hard training days back to back will leave your body depleted and full of metabolic waste. In order to replenish your energy and clear out the metabolic waste it helps to eat well, move, and keep the blood flowing. The erg provides a stable platform and is low impact, perfect for recovery at a sub-maximal effort. Next time you’re feeling sore or a workout absolutely crushes you, go sit down on the erg and row for 10 minutes. It doesn’t have to be hard. Enjoy it! Row at about 40% effort, just hard enough to breath a little bit. You should be able to maintain sentences and tell your training partner what you’ll be doing to master your next skill!
If you have any fun methods to master skills please share in the comments!