To Legit to Kip

By: Dave Leave a Comment

It’s becoming a common whisper and goal throughout the gym. You hear it all the time:

“I just want to get off these bands!”

Or in between classes…

“Can I try to PR my pull-up?”

Everybody wants progress and everybody wants to see results. I’ve been there, too. Yes, believe it or not, there was a time where I didn’t glide through the air with the greatest of ease. Shocking, I know. In fact, most of the staff here at CrossFit Lakás either started on bands or continues to use them to this day.

And here’s why.

Picture this: It’s a cold December afternoon. A small crowd gathers in a two-car garage in Leonardtown. The New Year is approaching, and so is the deadline on my goal to achieve 10 unassisted pull-ups by 2013.

More anxious than nervous, I jump up on the bar without the bands and I begin my wind up. “Kick hard and pull,” the trainer shouts excitedly, knowing that he has coached me to this goal. And I do it! Not only do I do it, but I do it ten times in succession. I’m on top of the world. I’m unstoppable. Nothing can top this feeling…

That is, nothing until we introduce dead hang pull-ups into the rotation.

Despite being able to do ten kipping pull-ups, I can’t even do three dead hang pull-ups.

There’s a reason why the trainers on staff tell you to aim for ten dead hang pull-ups before starting to kip, and I’m going to share my perspective on that with you, now.

A dead hang pull-up is a bodybuilding technique that involves the lats, biceps and forearms. If done correctly, only the shoulders and elbows should be engaging in the action. The rest of your body remains tight.

A kipping pull-up is a gymnastic movement intended to increase the efficiency and quantity of repetitions performed. The hip pop is the major motor behind this movement, requiring less upper-body strength to pull one’s chin over the bar when performed correctly.

Is there anything wrong with kipping? No. Is it going to decrease your Fran time? Sure. Is it going to help you get stronger? Probably not.

If your goal is to become stronger and get off the bands, here are some tips to help you achieve those dead hang pull-ups.

Practice: Dead hang pull-ups won’t come overnight. The only way to increase your strength is to consistently train those muscles. You wouldn’t expect to deadlift 200 lbs one week and 300 lbs the next, would you? So why do we put such a strong emphasis on getting off the bands as quickly as possible? This brings me to my next point…

Persistence: We all started somewhere. If that means you start with ring rows, you start with ring rows and you keep training until you can advance to the black or green band on the bar. When you’re ready, you’ll come down a band. It will take time, but you won’t give up. Continue to challenge yourself and strive to achieve your goals. They will come when you are ready. This segues into my grand finale…

Patience: As I mentioned before, it takes practice, persistence and a whole lot of time to build the strength to do dead hang pull-ups. Rome wasn’t built in a day, Rich Froning didn’t become a champion overnight, and we can’t expect to achieve all our goals tomorrow. Set your goal to be measurable, specific and achievable, in a realistic timeframe. Be proud of the little accomplishments over time.

Utilize the tools and resources available to you: Sign up for skill sessions, attend the Open Skill Work sessions, come to seminars in the gym to learn how to become more efficient in high rep WODs, and train with dead hang pull-ups in WODs which aren’t for time.

Most importantly, believe in yourself. You were a badass the day you stepped foot into the gym. Own it.

Now get out there and attack those goals!

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