I remember one early morning at my “globo” gym doing my normal routine of 3 mile warm up on the treadmill and my usual machines when I saw some lunatic jumping up and down on one of the benches, next kicking up on to the wall doing handstands and finally picking up one of the barbells and picking it off the ground and catching it in a squat. After I watched him do this ridiculous cycle for what seemed a chaotic eternity he fell to his back on the floor and had a huge smile and look of relief. By this time he had my attention to at least ask if he needed medical attention. I asked him (subbing a polite question here) what exactly was he doing? He had told me he followed a site, articles, coaches who CrossFit trained. He briefly explained it to me and I agreed that whatever the work out was on Monday – I would give it a whirl. Lucky me, I made that promise on Friday of Memorial Day weekend. So true to CrossFit form…. Mondays “WOD” was Murph. I literally laughed for a solid hour on Monday morning when I realized what I was about to attempt. Running being such a staple in my every day that seemed to be the only thing I thought I could handle - - so I did my 1 mile run on the treadmill in the gym and hopped off and started at my 100 pull-ups 200 push ups and 300 air squats. My pull ups were so slow and done on the assisted pull up machine that was heavily weighted to help me lift myself. My push ups were done on my knees and Lord only knows what my air squats looked like. Upon finishing all the middle work – I damn near thought I was going to die before getting on that treadmill again. I got back on and finished a VERY slow mile, stepped off the treadmill fell to my back in relief and smiled. The insanity made sense and I haven’t stopped since. 7 years later – I have become so much of a stronger athlete and person thanks to CrossFit. Throughout my years in sports – I have been complacent and was satisfied blending in and just competing. This sport has always made me want to be better, be faster, be stronger. In 2010 – I competed with a team in the CrossFit Games Regionals in Albany. In 2011 I qualified for the NorthEast Regionals as an individual. CrossFit has been my life changer. I have seen so much positive changes in myself that I have wanted to share it and be a part of it in other peoples lives. In 2012, I got certified as a CrossFit trainer and there is nothing more fulfilling than to see the difference that this sport makes in peoples lives. To see an athlete, become healthier, get stronger, get faster, be fit and overall have a sense of pride in themselves is nothing short of amazing. I am blessed to be a part of the Apache family, as a coach, a teammate, an athlete and a friend. I write this on May 23rd 2014 – ironically Memorial Day weekend. - - Guess who can’t wait for Monday's work out! See y’all at Murph.
BY Doug Dupont
Many people have noticed at some point in their lives that one of their arms or legs is larger than the other. In fact, this phenomenon is probably more common than we realize. In a recent study in theJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research, investigators looked at how this inequity in muscle affects strength and power.
There are a few reasons why an athlete may experience asymmetrical lean mass.The first and most obvious reason is laterality. Laterality is another way of saying handednessor footedness, which is the preference that most people have to perform physical tasks with one side of their body. For the average right-handed person, the right side of their body tends to be both stronger and larger, and the opposite for left-handed people.
It’s also not uncommon for people to have limbs of different lengths. For example, someone could have one femur (the large bone of the upper leg) that was longer than the other. Also, if one foot were larger than the other, it may turn out and flatten more, and could effectively make that same leg shorter. Like laterality, differently sized limbs can create preferences and imbalances that lead to a muscle being larger than its counterpart on the other side of your body.
In the study, researchers measured the muscle masses in various parts of the leg and pelvis of 167 Division I athletes. They then came up with a percentage of asymmetry to compare to the force and power profiles of the same athletes when they jumped. The researchers used what’s called a force plate, which measures the energy an athlete puts into the floor during a jump. Finally, they also measured the jumping height of each athlete.
The researchers learned that asymmetry of muscle development correlated to asymmetry in force and power. Asymmetries of the thigh and shank (the part of your leg between knee and ankle) could explain about twenty percent of force asymmetries. Similarly, imbalance in the pelvis, thigh, and shank together explained 25% of power asymmetry. As a result of muscle assymetry, jump height was reduced by a power asymmetry of ten percent or greater - an average of about 3.5 inches.
You might think these results don’t apply to you, but they certainly may. About five percent of the studied athletes fell into a range of power asymmetry that affected performance, so it wasn’t uncommon. Muscular asymmetry might also be masked by athletic ability. One of the best jumpers in the study had a power asymmetry of fifteen percent. Although he was one of the best, the imbalance may prevent that athlete from becoming even better.
Ensuring that power levels are similar on each side of your body is important for maximum performance in athletics. Maintaining strength on both sides goes a long way in staying healthy and strong.
CROSSFIT PULL UPS: WHICH CAME FIRST? THE STRICT OR THE KIP?
So, the title may sound weird, but it does beg a question similar to “which came first the chicken or the egg?”What does come first when it comes to pull ups or muscle ups, the strict or the kip? Now, I cannot speak for every CrossFit gym out there. Every gym has its own dynamic and group structure. Not every coach teaches the same or has the same course of action when it comes to teaching bodyweight movements.
This is true especially of the pull up, which is essential to pretty much every CrossFit workout.CrossFit WODs usually incorporates pull ups somewhere, or a movement similar to a pull up, like ring rows. So it’s important to know how to progress and the importance of practicing this exercise regularly.
So what is the answer to the question, what comes first?
Well, the most common complaint I hear in my practice is “I hurt myself doing kipping pull ups.” And the most frequent question I ask is, “Do you have your strict pull up?” About 99% of the time the patient says they do not have their strict pull up or they have only done it once or twice and never practiced it again.
It is always important to learn the strict movement before the kipping movement.Yes, kipping is easier to pick up in most cases versus the strict movement, but there can be harmful implications in beginning with a movement that requires powerful momentum from the core versus a movement that requires body awareness, strength, and learning control over the body.
Strict movement builds strength. We all pretty much know that anything thing strict is building strength in specific muscle groups. There is no momentum involved in the movement, thus you must rely on the muscles and how much they can move under load (your load in this case is your bodyweight) versus inertia that is generated during kipping movements.
Just think about it, if you weigh 150lbs, then your load is 150lbs when you are doing a strict pull up or strict muscle up. When you are doing strict movements you are also utilizing time under tension. Kipping movements are fast, that’s why we kip when doing time sensitive WODs. When a strict movement is involved, there is no period of weightlessness in the body (unlike the kip), so your body is in constant tension with your weight. Time under tension builds strength by using concentric and eccentric contractions, which also have an added benefit of building bodily control in the movement.
You might be wondering what the heck concentric and eccentric contractions are. Concentric contraction is when the amount of tension in the muscle increases when the muscle shortens. You can think of this type of contraction in an isolation movement such as the bicep curl. The bicep shortens while the amount of tension is increased. An eccentric contraction is the opposite; the tension is maintained as the muscle lengthens. For example, usually when people first start learning the strict pull up, they perform negatives. So you start at the top of the bar and slowly work your way down. The muscle is lengthening as it is in a state of contraction or tension. You need both types of contraction to build the strength to perform a full range of motion strict pull up or muscle up.
Strict movements prepare the smaller muscle groups for kipping. So we all know the strict pull up and muscle up preps muscles such as the latissimus dorsi, serratus anterior, lower trapezius, and others, but do you realize that doing the strict movement preps your smaller muscle groups to protect your shoulder girdle from the intense movement of the kip? The smaller muscles that stabilize the shoulder girdle (rotator cuff) include teres major, supraspinatus, teres minor, infraspinatus, levator scapula, and subscapularis. Other muscles that are being utilized also include rhomboid major and minor, serratus posterior superior, and biceps. These small muscle groups are essential to keeping the shoulder supported and mobile.
When doing strict movements you are building up those smaller muscles to support the shoulder and prevent slap tears, bicepital tears, shoulder dislocations, and glenoid labrum tears. That's just to name a few injuries that can come about from kipping too much. You only have one body. If you injure yourself because you did not properly progress into the kipping pull up, you will be out for at least six weeksrehabbing yourself, then you will have to start at square one. No one wants to be in that position, ever.
Strict movements prevent the crazy kip. Many times when someone does not have the strict pull up or muscle up it is obvious to see. The reason being is they tend to have a very large, or what I like to call “wild,” kip. This stems from lack of strength in the shoulders and back, therefore the athlete has to use momentum rather than strength to pull up to the bar or rings.
If you have the strict pull up, the kip comes easy. Your kip will have a smaller base, which prevents injuries, most importantly, but for those of you who are competitive, it is also much faster to have a smaller base in that you are able to recoil back into the next pull up rather quickly. Remember, the more you have to move forward and back, the more apt you are to have repetitive use injury. This is especially important for those who butterfly kip. If there is no strength in your base, your chances of injury go up significantly.
There are so many progressions that you can do to learn your strict movements. The most important thing is to constantly work on your form and strength building, even if that means your pride may suffer a bit (for those of you who are heavy kippers).Remember, it’s difficult to go from kipping to a strict movement, but it’s much easier to go from a strict movement to a kipping one. Kipping is just a tool to utilize to be faster during WODs that are time sensitive, but the strict movement is translated in all most everything you do in CrossFit. Take care of your bodies; you only have one to work with.