Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Progression Wednesday: pull-ups

Teaching pull-ups is tricky. Most things we do have a good way to scale both the difficulty of the movement (the progression part) and the weight. As you progress to more difficult movements you can bring the weight down. With pull-ups the jumps between progressive movements are larger and more difficult to least the way we do it.

Our pull-up progression looks something like this:
static hang
active hang
scapular pull-up
ring row
pike ring row
weighted pull-up
kipping pull-up

Our approach is different than you'll find most other places. I don't like to do the kipping pull-up until you can do real pull-ups or even weighted pull-ups. That's because the kipping motion puts a lot of stress on your shoulders. If you don't have the shoulder strength to do a pull-up, why would you want to be swinging around on a bar (link NSFW). Most places like to start with the kipping pull-up. I understand the confidence building of getting your first pull-up, but I don't like ripping apart your shoulders.

Another thing that doesn't show up in our progression is the banded pull-up. Most places use that as a way to subtract some weight to get your strict pull-up (don't get me started about banded kipping pull-ups).  What I don't like about the band is that the helping force is the strongest at the start and progressively decreases (that whole kx thing). You get the least help at the top of the pull-up when you need the most. As a result, people who learn the banded pull-up never really develop the scapular strength to hold their shoulder together properly.

So we take a long time to progress people to real pull-ups. Lauren (above) took a whole year of work, but now she has a real pull-up and her shoulders are strong enough that I'm not worried about injury.


row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips


snatch pull 5-3-3-3x3


2 windmills between strength sets

Group Workout

skill day:
slowly work up to a heavy 5 overhead squat
take the weight down and slowly work up to a heavy snatch balance
take the weight down and slowly work up to a heavy dead-hang snatch
get to heavy weights today (enough to scare you) but work up slowly so you get lots of practice.

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