We’ve talked about it many times, and we all know that we should work on our strict gymnastics movements, but a lot of us don’t know HOW to go about doing it.
Some common misconceptions and approaches athletes make is too much too soon. The whole “more is better” is not appropriate in this setting. We also tend to want to make a timeline or deadline. But, gaining gymnastics strength is NOT the same as finishing your midterm paper on time. While putting a deadline on your midterm paper is necessary and helpful to get it done, putting a deadline on gymnastics goals is stressful, often times unrealistic, and can take away from the quality of the journey itself.
Okay, so HOW do we get that pull up or muscle up, then?!?!
Just like your CrossFit workouts, be sure to VARY the variations you do to work on your gymnastics strength. So, for example, if you’re working on getting your first pull up, instead of doing banded strict pull ups 5 days a week, try doing something like this:
MONDAY: 4 Sets for Quality - 10-20 sec Dead Hang Hold, 5-10 Strict Ring Rows @ your best degree, slow & controlled. Rest as needed between sets.
TUESDAY: 4 Sets for Quality: 5-10 Strict Jackknife Pull ups, slow & controlled, rest as needed, 5-8 Strict One-arm DB Press
WEDNESDAY: 4 Sets of 10 Bent Over Rows with appropriate weight, 10-15 Push ups
THURSDAY: 10 min EMOM - 3-5 Power Cleans @ 65-75%
FRIDAY: Crossover Symmetry & Rowing Intervals
Notice the different PLANES we worked through throughout the week? Just because pull ups are an overhead motion, doesn’t mean we want to ONLY work overhead. We also want to work the front, like rowing and ring rows, and below, like power cleans. The other important piece to remember is to keep a BALANCE of pulling and pushing. A common mistake athletes working on their first pull up make is to do ONLY pulling exercises, and then they wonder why their shoulders hurt and their Push Press is weak.
If you’re working on the muscle up, make sure you’ve mastered the Chest-to-Bar Pull up FIRST. If you can’t do STRICT C2BPUs and STRICT Ring Dips yet, then you’re just not ready yet for Muscle Ups. It’s important to follow the right progressions. If you rush it, it could lead to some pretty nasty injuries, and even worse, to surgery.
Remember, there is NO race or timeline to strength. It has to be built over time. The things I can do today are because of the things I’ve done over the past 10 YEARS!!! Years, my friends! Not weeks, or even months. Years.
But, here’s the awesome thing - Once you put in the time and gain real, long-term strength, you’ll have a solid foundation that will be a lot harder to break! Prime example - After being on bedrest during my last pregnancy, followed by a tough recovery, I was out of CrossFit for almost 6 straight months. And yet, even postpartum and doing the CF Open, I was still able to do Bar Muscle Ups and butterfly C2B Pull ups. That’s NOT luck, folks. That's thanks to YEARS of strict gymnastics work and solid training.
So, strictly speaking, let’s get those strict gymnastics sets goin’! ;-)