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Help with Pull Ups
Posted: 22 March 2011 05:42 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi All:

I’ve been crossfitting over a year now.  Can nail a lot of things, not very strong but recent copy of Starting Strength, good weights, attention to form and other things have been showing dramatic improvement.

I weigh 215 and I’m 6’2” tall.  Since crossfitting and paleo I dropped pounds then went back to 215 and have held it there.  I’ve gotten ripped physically.

I can not do a single dead hang pull up and kipping causes me to slip off the bar when coming down most of the time.  I’ve been working very hard at getting a pull up and had a goal of 20 unassisted by the end of the year but I’m still not at a single one.

I’ve got bands made from surgical tubing, a good pull up bar but the frustration I have had with this exercise is unbelievable.

I know every single possible progression.  On most workouts I start off trying to get a single pull up completed then shift to an assist for the remaining ones.  I can do multiple negatives though not with weight.  I have a good bar in the garage as part of my rack, decent plyo boxes, plenty of surgical tubing bands and a makeshift weight vest using an old backpack.

I’m frustrated because after a year I’m still not able to jump to a bar and do a pull up and the good measuring WOD’s are impossible to Rx without a pull up kipping or otherwise. 

My kipping causes a huge amount of force on the way down practially causing a playground to shake if I’m at the park.

I don’t have access to a gravitron which at this point might be my remaining hope.

Any suggestions for a progression of workouts to get to a set of 20 pull ups starting with a dead hang would be appreciated as this is really important to my fitness goals.

Thanks

J

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Posted: 22 March 2011 07:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’d suggest you try to find a good affiliate with quality coaches.
There may be something up with your kip that they can help you with.

Can you perform kipping pull-ups with the band assistance?  Or are you doing dead hangs with the band?

Our progression looks like this:
-Ring Rows
-Band Assisted Dead Hangs
-Work on the Kip Swing (no pull-up, just body control and grip strength)
-Band Assisted Kipping Pull-up
-Kipping Pull-Up

You may get some purchase from practicing the kip swing without attempting to do a full pull-up.  If you can do 10-15 well controlled kip swings with some decent amplitude, I’d think you had some good grip strength, midline control, and upper body strength required to do a pull-up.

I’ve been looking for a video of a really good kip swing… but I’m not finding one.  I’ll keep looking though.

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Posted: 22 March 2011 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Here we go:
http://vimeo.com/19126803

Good kip swings starting at 1:30 in and some good explanation after that.

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28/m/6’2”/215/BF8.9%
CrossFit Birth: April 8, 2008 (BW 245)

“Performance is directly correlated with intensity. Intensity is directly correlated with discomfort.” -Coach Glassman
“Get Comfortable with Uncomfortable.” -Coach OPT

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“Machines were invented to keep wankers off the barbells.” -Greg Everett

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Posted: 22 March 2011 07:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Have you been doing the CFWU?  There are between 30-45 reps of pull-up work right there. 

I was kind of in the same boat when I first started.  It was a bit frustrating.  I asked for advice and people would basically just say, “Keep at it and you’ll get it eventually.”  As annoying as that advice was, it was right.  I just kept working the progressions and now can string together a decent amount of pull-ups.  Different exercises come more or less easily for certain people.  We all have our “goats”.  Just stick with it.

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Posted: 22 March 2011 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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JohnStJohn - 22 March 2011 05:42 AM

My kipping causes a huge amount of force on the way down practially causing a playground to shake if I’m at the park.

Then you are likely not pushing away at the top like you should.  I used to do that too and it would 1) kill my second kip 2) hurt my shoulders. 

Slipping off the bar: chalk? dirt? dust of your enemies bones?  (I like that one, but it makes my wife go “ewwww”.)

TP

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Posted: 22 March 2011 10:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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you said you do negatives. id try holding yourself in your pull-up position at the top, and only go down like an inch, then pull-up. keep doing that, lowering another inch as you feel capable, then pulling up.

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Posted: 22 March 2011 11:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Just wondering how your grip is in general on the bar?  You may want to start off developing your grip by doing 30 second strict hangs, no pull or holding on until failure.

If you are trying to develop your pull up, work the dead hang progression. 
We know that while kipping pull ups are great for maintaining high intensity during a WOD, kipping pull ups do not develop your strength as dynamically as the strict deadhang. 

Stick with working hard on those deadhangs.  It will payoff.

B

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Posted: 22 March 2011 03:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I’m no expert but just wanted to share some of my own experience.

I’m still usng assistance / bands for my chins and pulls (all deadhangs as my bar is too low to kip and I thought we were suppose to have about 5 deadhangs before we started kipping?)- but I am seeing pogress which is very encouraging and I know that elusive unassisted pull isn’t too far away.

I started out with black band stretched across the pins at position 5th from the bottom in my rack as per SS book 11Oct09 then progress as follows..
green band assist 29Nov09
blue band assist 16Dec09
blue band assist at pin 4 15Mar10,
blue band assist at pin 3 9Apr10
blue band assist at pin 2 24Aug10
red band assist at pin 5 24 Aug 10
red band assist at pin 4 13 Jan 11
Then the incremements seem to get tougher so I bought the Pull up Revolution 27 Jan 11 and I’m now using that - I feel this give me a more natural body movment than the bands and that it will give me more control over gradually lessening the assistance to finally enable me to go unassisted.

You make no mention of progress stages so I was just wondering what progress you are making - every little bit helps keep you motivated - hope it helps

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Posted: 22 March 2011 06:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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There is a lot of good info for you to follow here, but I could use some more info on where you are at. Like BM suggest, get to an affiliate maybe your off on your tech. Brit talks about just hanging on the bar. I would like to know how long can you hang on the bar. There was talk about learning the strict pull ups before the kipping. This is good advice, we would like to build up the muscles in this area before we start beating them up with the kip, especially if our kip has a problem. Keep working at them, and hopefully some of the advice here helps.

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Posted: 22 March 2011 06:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I just wanted to tell you that you are not in this fight alone.  I have asked the same question in this forum and I am still as frustrated as you are.  I am doing ring rows and assisted pullups daily and still no dead hang or kipping pullups.  I am keeping at it and really want this to happen soon.  It is really frustrating when you are trying to scale and that doesn’t even go with what you can do otherwise.  Stick with it, I know I am and I have been trying since 5-19-10 with none yet but we are still working on it.  Good luck with your progression.  Inverted rows are supposed to help a ton!  I have been doing a bunch with rings lately.

John

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Posted: 22 March 2011 07:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I went from 0 pullups to 20 dead hang. I tried every chinup and programming variation under the sun. I did negatives, I did hold for time, I did machine assisted, I did partner assisted, band assisted. I did rows, I did curls for girls. I did pronated grip, supinated grip, parallel grip, close grip, wide grip, medium grip, mixed grip, single grip. I did towel hangs. I did Farmers Walks. I did Grease the Groove. I did pullups for singles or for 5 sets of 5. I did Ladders. I did kipping pullups, ring pullups. I did inverted rows on the rings. I did rope climbs, I did monkey bars. You know what worked best for me? Doing all of that.

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Posted: 23 March 2011 07:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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grin

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28/m/6’2”/215/BF8.9%
CrossFit Birth: April 8, 2008 (BW 245)

“Performance is directly correlated with intensity. Intensity is directly correlated with discomfort.” -Coach Glassman
“Get Comfortable with Uncomfortable.” -Coach OPT

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“Machines were invented to keep wankers off the barbells.” -Greg Everett

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Posted: 23 March 2011 08:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I’m with you on this. Been doing CrossFit for just about a year now and I’m seeing progress in everything but pull-ups.

I like Lincoln’s advice; I’ve been hitting almost everything he’s mentioned.

One thing I think has been giving me some progress is this program I found in a CrossFit Journal entry

(WFS) http://journal.crossfit.com/2011/02/volume-training-for-goats.tpl

I’ve been working on this on my rest days and I’m definitely feeling stronger and hope to have a dead-hang soon.

Best of luck,

Scott

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Posted: 23 March 2011 09:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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There’s a key thing that Brian Wilson’s article hits on that I want to mention. I always worked my goats in 4-8 week blocks. Too much variety can be problematic if a skill only comes up once every couple of weeks or less. I’d pick a strategy and hit it for several weeks until there was measurable and obvious progress. For example, I would decide I’m going to get better at hang-for-time because grip strength would help my pullups. (Strategy) I would train with 3 sets just short of failure and then once a week do a test of hang-for-time to failure. (Tactics). My goal would be to go from 1 minute to 2 minutes, for example. (Progress) Then for the next block of training with my improved grip strength I would try to improve my towel hang chinups.

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Posted: 25 March 2011 12:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Take this for what it’s worth, or with a grain of salt as I’m not a “crossfitter” YET and this is my first post here:)

About 7 months ago I could do no pullups, or maybe I could eke out 1 if I really worked at it.  Well, I decided to make some changes and I’ve lost over 40 lbs since then.  Even after losing a lot of weight I still couldn’t do as many pullups as I wanted to…when I was in high school and weighed about 130-135 lbs I could do 25 or so.  Being 45 and a lot heavier (165 after the weight loss) I don’t know how realistic it is that I would do as many as I did so long ago, but that’s the ideal I have stuck in my mind so I was looking for a way to increase my pullups.  I was doing assisted pullups at the gym I go to and after some months I was able to start doing them unassisted and maxed at about 6-8 reps.  Well this still wasn’t “enough” and I discovered http://www.fiftypullups.com.  I started this program with a max of 8 about 5 weeks ago and now am able to do 12-14 good form dead hang pullups.  Seems like the program is working….supposedly some people really get to 50.  I don’t think that’s a realistic goal for me, but I’d like to be able to do over 20.  I will be thrilled if I make it.  Check out the website if you’re interested.  The beginning levels are structured for those like the OP who cannot yet do an unassisted pull.

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Posted: 28 March 2011 07:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Broke a swingset bar!

I was out this weekend on a swingset at a local park and the weld snapped on my down swing.  I didn’t fall but it did crack.  I’m going to video this kipping I do for comments.  I have to be doing something wrong because the forces I’m generating going down are shaking and shuddering the chin bars I’ve been using.  I’m afraid of tearing my rack anchor bolts out of the floor at home and they are pretty stout.  I can only hold onto the bar one out of three and that is with a really concerted effort and I have a lot of trouble stopping and slowing and then can’t translate all of that downward force back into a move upward.

Oh, and I tested with a 20 lb weight vest and could do 11 minutes 44 seconds of hang dead with my grip.  Without the weigh vest I dropped out (after doing that first part with the weight vest at 18 minutes 12 seconds.

It’s definitely not coming naturally that’s for sure!

J

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“It is unwise to seek prominence in a field whose routine chores you do not enjoy”

Wolfgang Pauli

Translation:  Don’t try to be good at it if you’re not willing to poke at the details day after day and be excited about repeats.

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