14 Aug The G-Force Source: Don’t take the easy pull-up path
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
In last week’s edition of the Source, we provided you, the readers, with some hints and tips for movement efficiency in a number of exercises performed in CrossFit. One of the more important movements we tend to concentrate on is the pull-up. It has three main variations: strict, kipping, and butterfly. These then transition into other movements which include the bar and ring muscle-up, toes-to-bar and knees-to-elbows.
All of these movements stem from one main drill: the hollow and hollow rock. We’ve talked about the hollow time and time again, and for good reason. It’s because people don’t listen, or people don’t practice this movement enough.
During class last week, head coach Glen instructed the class and told them that the hollow is something that can be practiced at home. We’re going to go beyond and say you can practice this in the gym, at home watching television, at home whilst your other half cooks or cleans, at work, on a plane, on a bus or train, on a tram, in a maxi taxi, in a pool, whilst skydiving, in a big enough shower and bath, and if you’re feeling extra adventurous, even whilst sitting on the toilet. But please, don’t hollow and drive.
Practice your hollow as often as you can because it is the fundamental position, being that extra tight body position, that we want to see transferred into your pulling movements. We understand that this is harder, especially when transferred onto the pull-up bar. But it makes for a much better body position, it will eventually be more efficient, and you won’t have practiced that broken and lazy body position that we never want to see.
Don’t take the easy path. Effort, pain, difficulty: these are the things that make you stronger and make you better.
Continue below as we re-hash pull-up information from a past Source article titled From caterpillars to butterflies.
THE G-FORCE MOVEMENT BANK
Some of you may have heard us talk about keeping your pull-ups tight, no matter what variation of the movement you’re performing. Whether it’s a strict pull-up, kipping pull-up, or butterfly pull-up, emphasis should be placed on keeping your midline tight without letting your body bend too far back or forward. When performing a strict pull-up, most people let the legs hang, or they bend at the knee, they hyper-extend their back by flaring out their chest, they look up towards the ceiling and try to perform a pull-up. That is a broken pull-up. We will tell you to stay tight by thinking about adopting a position similar to that of a hollow position on the floor: feet together, ribs down and stomach tight. You have to remember: “Tight is light, loose is heavy.” Being loose is dead weight, and it’s not transitional. By transitional in regards to the pull-up, we mean it doesn’t transition from the strict pull-up to the kip, and eventually onto the butterfly.
When thinking about the butterfly and first trying to learn the movement, we tend to see people start with smaller circles with their feet at a dead hang underneath the pull-up bar, or they try and over-exaggerate the kicking-motion by creating big circles with their legs and feet. Both of these are inefficient. As Chris Spealler explains in his efficiency video, smaller circles under the pull-up bar tends to make your head pass through the bar, which we never do in a pull-up. The larger circles with the feet and legs becomes inconsistent, and it will tend to break the tighter position mentioned above. As per the strict and kipping pull-up, the movement should be performed with tighter midlines. You will find that a tighter butterfly pull-up is going to be much quicker and more efficient than a variation where someone is using their legs too much by creating large circles.
Watch Chris Spealler’s pull-up efficiency video here.