With all the talk about pull-ups in the gym and on the streets, I thought I’d start the articles with just that, The Sexy Dead hang Pull-Up… you know you want one.
The first step is to find your weakness and work it till its dead. This is where stuff starts to get really boring and tedious… where people stop in their tracks and get divorced. Just remember, you’re going to have a Sexy Dead hang Pull-up when we’re done.
Let’s list some possible weaknesses:
- Can’t pull out of bottom position.
- Not staying tight; weak core.
- Kicking and pumping legs to build momentum.
- Weak at the top of the pull.
These are the biggest issues I see in our gym. So we’ll start here.
Believe it or not just hanging from the bar when you’re new (or working on the pull up) to the gym is a huge amount of work. People want to go for the sexy move right from go, but they can’t even hang on the bar for more than 15 seconds. What does hanging do, you ask? Hanging is a form of isometrics, so it will strengthen you in that position and get you ready to pull from the hole. It will improve grip strength and prepare the tissues around the joints for additional force. Remember, our body weight alone is a downward force.
After we are used to the position of hanging from the bar and are able to hang for 30 seconds, we now ready to activate the pulling muscles with scapular depressions. What are scapular depressions you ask? Well we actually talk about them all the time in the gym, just not in those words. When we say put your should blades down and back or in your back pockets, those are scapular depressions.
Row, row, row your back to get strong. A pull up is a row in the vertical plane. As humans, we should be able to pull ourselves in any direction (or plane). This is why rows are so important, whether on the rings, with barbells or dumbbells. Keep pulling yourself.
I mentioned earlier that hanging is a form of isometrics. Isometric exercise is when you hold yourself in one position for a period of time. This is good and bad. Good because you will get strong in that one position; bad because you will get strong in that one position. For our purposes it is a good way to get over plateaus in your pull-up work. Most folks who are working on their pull-up have sticking points, whether it’s getting out of the hole or the inability to get through the middle pull, they get to that spot and hold on for dear life. When you feel yourself slipping from that spot, squeeze even tighter. Squeeze with all you’ve got. GET TIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let yourself down as slow as humanly possible until your arm are totally straight. Don’t give in 3 inches before the bottom. That doesn’t make you sexy!!! And training yourself to drop will keep you from getting out of the hole. That’s not what we want.
Hollow rock and planks
The hollow rock and plank are both forms of isometric core exercise. They are very effective at isolating the core to stabilize. If you can’t stabilize, you wont move well. You are only as strong as your weakest link. These exercises will help you in all you do in Crossfit and everything you do in life. They will make you better humans.
Oh negatives, how I love thee. Negatives have been utilized in strength training since before most of you were born… maybe since Buddha. You can use this method to make almost…ok, all movements stronger. Negatives are when you lengthen the muscle, muscle group, or motion of interest under heavy load. In our case, pull-ups are the desired motion. You will start with your chin above the bar than pull up as hard as you can even though your bodyweight (the resistance) will overcoming your muscles and you will go down. The idea of a negative is that you are not letting yourself down yet the weight is overcoming your effort to pull upwards. Once you get to the point of being capable of letting yourself down slowly, more weight is needed to keep a true negative, ie weighted vest or weight between feet.
Remember, get those last three inches, so you can get out of the hole without kicking and screaming.
This is how I got my dead hang pull up. I did isometric holds with chin above the bar then transitioned into negatives from that point down to the very bottom, the deep dark bottom.
If you’re on the brink of your dead hang sexy pull-up and just need that little bump, then grab a partner and have them spot you. When you start to stall, they can give you a little push, as much or little that you need. Bend your knees and have your partner place their hands under your feet. Begin pulling up for a dead hang pull up and when you reach your sticking point push your feet down against their hands to help yourself break through your sticking point. Once your chin is above the bar you can lower yourself and get in your negative. If you’re super good at negatives, then have your partner pull you down to add resistance. You will get super strong fast!!!
I would really recommend finding a pull-up partner in the gym, someone at about the same level as you, or someone a bit stronger so you can chase them. They call that a rabbit. Use your partner-rabbit for most of these exercises, coach each other and you will both get better.
If you’re not sure where your weaknesses are or how to use the fixes I’ve described above get with one of the coaches and well be happy to help you.
Now get to work and get SEXY!!!
Hope this helps. See ya in the gym!