By Britt Birchall
Last week we started a new series called, “That Shoulder Girdle – Part 1″ where we talked about taking some accountability for ourselves when it comes to posture, protracted shoulders, and the consequences which result in injury when doing anything CrossFit. In this series today, we are going to take a deeper look into the importance of maintaining posture and position in the very simple yet overlooked and insanely valuable strict pull-up.
Overhand grip pull-ups “tone and sculpt”….that’s why you’re doing it right?….okay, overhand grip pull-ups develop your lats, your shoulders, and your back…but did you know if done properly, your pull-up can help develop the strength of your rack position in the back squat or any overhead position, even the handstand push-up. With that being said in CrossFit we sometimes forget that we can not rely simply on movement standards…”chin over the bar” for a good rep to get us to where we want to go. Yes, chin over the bar counts in competition, but are you reaping the full benefits of the strict pull-up? Let’s take a closer look.
When we allow our head to remain neutral and RETRACT the shoulder blades in the strict pull-up, we are putting our shoulders in a healthy position AND building strength in the shoulder girdle. Thus when we take a movement overhead like the strict press or overhead squat your shoulders will be stronger than ever or in the squat, your rack position will be bigger and stronger than ever, which will allow you the opportunity to squat heavier weights! Why? The issue we are dealing with when we simply follow a standard of movement…”chin over the bar for a good rep” puts our shoulders in a protracted position, which means we have completely lost the position necessary to develop the rhomboids and the middle and lower traps, which again means YIKES! we are compromising our shoulder health!
Look for Part 3 next week!
Please post thoughts to comments.
There is a well-known jujutsu teacher in San Francisco that likes to say, “Hit a black belt and he becomes a brown belt, hit a brown belt and he becomes a purple belt, hit a purple belt and he becomes a blue belt.” A lot of skill and ability goes out the window when you are being hit and hurt.
It’s the same thing in CrossFit. Of course, no one is actually punching you during a workout (at least at CrossFit West), but a good WOD hits plenty hard. A WOD messes up the best laid plan. Have you ever looked at a WOD and mentally planned out exactly how you are going to do it? How you are going to break it up? Where you will take a little rest? And then you get tucked into it and that plan headed for the door at warp speed. Yep, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. And it’s not just you and me, it’s the top beasts at the Games as well. I’ve talked to Games competitors before an event and learned how they are going to do it, and then watched them do something completely different as the workout takes its toll. Hit a black belt and he becomes a brown belt and on down the line.
One of the best things you can do for your CrossFit training is to have discipline during a WOD. Now, I know what you are thinking–more fricking discipline! I already come to the gym multiple times a week, I mobilize like a mofo, I don’t eat any damn sugar, and I avoid gluten like a nun does the men’s locker room, and now there is more discipline out there that I need to focus on?
The discipline I am talking about is the discipline to stick to your plan. To only breath once during a movement (in on the eccentric and out on the concentric). To get that final rep of your rep scheme before you get off the bar. It’s not easy, trust me I know, but it will pay off big time. Especially when it comes to repeating a WOD, such as a benchmark or an Open workout (you’re signed up for Open, right).
Sure, there are times to just go for it and let the chips hit the deck where ever they may fall, but there are also times to plan and stick to that plan. WOD and movement discipline is a habit and practice will going to save you when that WOD comes punching.