Aug 16 – How to improve your pull-ups!

When you first enter a CrossFit gym and carry out your onramp ones of the fundamentals you will be shown a pull-up or a version of the pull-up. In CrossFit the pull-up is classed as one of the more basic movements, however, in the gymnastic world a pull-up is actually one of the more intermediate movements.

You may have found yourself plugging away repeating the movements again and again and not getting anywhere, resorting to using a band for assistance every time, wondering why you are not improving.

Well, the answer is simple; using a kip or trying to progress too fast without base line strength is going to hinder your progression. In this article we will look at some of the best ways to increase your basic strength which will in turn help you to master the pull-up.

Mobility

Practice hanging from the bar so that you are in a fully extended overhead position. If your arms are not straight, or your lats, chest or spine is tight, then you are already in a bad position to begin pulling as you are placing too much stress on your shoulders and spine, which could lead to injury.

Once you have mastered hanging in a fully extended overhead position with active shoulders, then and only then should you add in the pulling motion. If you find that you are really struggling to get this position then you will need to build strength whilst working on your mobility, so practice heavy deadlifts and farmer’s carries and bent-over rows to build grip and pulling strength.

Shoulder strength

Once you have nailed your mobility and worked on building your strength then you should try to spend some time purely hanging from the bar. It is a good idea to do “hangs” for time taking note of how long you can hang until you have to let go.

Bin the band

As you are looking to build strength it is a good idea to try to work on strict pull-ups as much as possible completing the full range of motion, full lock out at the bottom, to chin over the bar at the top.

Building strength

Ultimately your goal is to preform pull-ups with no band as efficiently as possible, so for this you will need to be as strong as possible. One of the best ways to build strength is through preforming ring rows. Ring rows can be progressed making them harder very easily by changing your body’s position or the ring position. Another very good way to build strength is through negative pull-ups, making sure you lower yourself as slowly as possible making the muscle work for time under tension.

Keep your eyes on the prize

Your goal is to achieve one pull-up so that is what you need to focus on, you do not have to complete a set of 10, just 1. Focus on that first rep then increase additional reps over time.

Resist the kip

Do not start using the kip in your pull-ups until you can do at least 5 strict, kipping just adds load to the shoulders even though it is more efficient.

Get on the rope

A great way to build strength whilst working on another of your CrossFit skills is to perfect your rope climb. Rope climbs are a great way to build upper body strength, especially in a pulling motion. You can also add in some rope pulls for variety.

Ultimately you need to listen to your body and work through all of the progressions before attempting to add the kip into your pull-ups. The longer you can stay away from the kip the better and the stronger you will become.

 

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Aug 16 – Who is your inspiration?

Successful people get asked all the time who is their biggest influence or who do they admire/aspire to be like and why? A few will answer with another well know athlete but I can almost guarantee every single one of them will also have someone closer to home that influenced their life way more than any successful athlete they could look up to ever could.

The definition of inspirational is said to be something or someone who is uplifting and motivates people to bring out the best in themselves. And inspirational is for one to lead as an example to encourage others to follow.

The question I am asking is… does the person you admire need to be a top athlete or can they be someone who has stumbled and fallen many times yet always manages to pick themselves up and carry on using their fall to help them grow. The person who inspires you may never be the top of their game or be “famous” in their chosen field but does that really matter?

admire

In my eyes…. NO! a person who inspires me is someone who always works hard, be it in sport of just in life. They can fall a million times and have suffered through life but as long as they are doing the best they can and they achieve their goal be it a small competition or reaching top of the podium they have inspired me to want to be as dedicated and as disciplined as them.

 I defiantly have a few very good friends that inspire me daily through their sheer hard work, determination and will to drive forward and never give up – although they may not know it. I really have to thank them as they keep me grounded everyday supporting me and helping me to remember I can achieve my dreams.

Alongside those who are around me every day I have to say the biggest influence in my life had to be my Grampy. I’m sorry to disappoint and not mention some famous CrossFitter but that’s just how it is.

grandad

Have you ever had that one person in your life that literally meant the world to you and you admired so much for everything they did. Their strength, their courage and their determination. Well yes my Grampy he was them all. I had a special bond with him and I can’t explain how but he was always there on the end of his phone checking on my training wanting to watch videos of what I was up to and so very proud of me when I won a competition.

I remember when I showed him my powerlifting trophies I won when I took the BPO 60kg World Records, he just burst into tears. My deepest regret was that he was never well enough to come in person and watch me compete, but it was ok we took my competing to him, all be it by phone or computer.

Grampy never had the chances like I have had to train and compete but I can guarantee if he had he would have been very successful and I always wished I could have taken him for one workout in CrossFit because I know in his brighter days he would of absolutely loved it.

grandad 2

My point being your biggest influence doesn’t need to be someone who has been incredibly successful but someone who you believe has affected your life in a way not many others can. They could be a family member, friend or even someone you know from the gym but they have supported you and encouraged you to work harder and believe in yourself. It is always good to have ‘famous’ athletes to look up to but I also believe having someone closer to home is also very important.

Whilst thinking who is your biggest influence have you ever considered that you may be an influence to someone else or even multiple people. Now there is a thought.

I will leave you with one last thought.

My Grampy was one of the strongest and most determined people I have ever met and through him I believe I had gained my strength, determination and drive to never give up because I have seen how you can use obstacles to make you stronger. My Grampy never feared a hard day’s work and was never one to complain even on his last few days whilst suffering never once did I hear him complain. A true hero in my eyes.

So who is yours?

 

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Aug 16 – How to boost your metabolism naturally!

Here are some of my top tricks in how to boost your metabolism naturally

CINNAMON

When cinnamon is added into your food be it on your porridge, as a marinade a topping on your yogurt or even on your salad you are helping to boost your metabolism as cinnamon helps the blood sugar be transported into the cells around your body for energy this resulting in less fat being stored. You will only need to add around ¼ – 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to your food every day to see the benefits.

cinammon 1

GREEN TEA

Caffeine alone will boost your metabolism increasing your heart rate which leads to greater calorie burn. However, green tea also contains catechins which are a substance that has been suggested to help burn belly fat. You should aim to try and drink around 8-ounce cups a day to see the greatest benefit.

YOUGART

Dairy has recently been given a bad name for containing a lot of calories and bad fat, however this not the truth and in fact dairy can be very good for us as it contain a lot of friendly bacteria and good fats. These together have been suggested to be able to try and reduce the amount of fat absorbed around the fat.

strawberry

COFFEE

As mentioned above caffeine can help kick start your metabolism as it jump-starts the lipolysis which assists in the breakdown of fats. You should aim for 1-2 cups of coffee per day.

CHILI PEPPERS

Chili’s are often found in curry’s, Indian food, Chinese food and other wonderful dishes from around the World. These spicy little peppers contain a compound called capsaicin which provides the fiery flavour and helps to boost your metabolism. Capsaicin not only boosts your metabolism but also increases your body temperature which helps with additional calorie burn.

chilli

CHICKEN AND FISH

After consuming any food your body has to digest it which in turn burns calories. Lean proteins like chicken and fish take more digesting so more calories are burned opposed to when foods like carbs and fats are consumed.  This suggesting that consuming proteins opposed to any other foods will burn more calories and boost your metabolism.

 

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Aug 16 – Post Regionals Rest and Training

It’s been a while since I have written a blog about what I have been getting up to so I thought I would update you all on what I have been doing since Regionals. The effect on my body of taking part in Regionals was a lot more than I thought it would be but now that I have finally got back into training properly I feel I can now talk about and reflect about what I have been up to. I truly have learned a lot about myself, training, rest and nutrition over the last few months and how important rest and recuperation are after a big competition.

Firstly, I took a few weeks off to rest and recover – mentally and physically. It had been a long season training for the Open and, with my unexpected qualification for Regionals, training then continued for Regionals.

rest-day

My recovery weeks after Regionals consisted of a complete weeks rest with no training at all. Initially I thought before Regionals that this would be impossible but I can honestly say the thought of even stepping inside a gym after Regionals was way too much for me to be able to cope with. I felt like I hibernated for a whole week and slept. My mind was completely shot and my body drained. I can safely say that I have never felt like this in my training career. A place I never thought I would ever go to.

After the initial rest week, I was allowed to move but nothing heavy or intense. My body still needed time to recover and my central nervous system needed to come back too normal. During these two weeks I was still finding it really hard to get my head back into a place where it wanted to train. I was surprised how mentally difficult I was finding it. I could see other girls and guys who had also competed getting back into training doing heavy lifts but I just wasn’t ready yet and I didn’t know at that point Steve’s plan for my training going forward (JST Programming). Reflecting back now I can see why Steve made me rest the way he did.

JST

After my full rest of 3-4 weeks I was allowed to start training again but just light drills for my Olympic lifting and some fun gymnastics, with little conditioning work, as I was entering my strength cycle. Steve programmes for each of us individually so I always know he is making me work on my weakest things.

While I was just getting back into training I decided that I would see Simon Whitnall to help me work on my movement patterns and mobility while also working on preventing injury. I can honestly say that working with Simon has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. The differences I have been able to make in my training through being able to move properly is incredible.

simon

Bringing my training up to date, Steve is finally just allowing me to work up to heavy lifts, some two months after Regionals. While it has been a long road to being able to lift heavy weights again I can see why Steve has programmed the way he has. I have PB’d every lift and I am making some great gains. I finally feel that my mind is in a good place so lifting heavy has not been an issue and I have never felt nervous or scared to lift, just confident and raring to go.

So what did I do in between my rest weeks to now, being allowed to lift heavy? I did a lot of isolation, midline, lunges, overhead and strict gymnastics, alongside a bunch more things. The reason for this is that I was strengthening my muscles ready to lift heavy again. Sure, there was an element of strength going into Regionals but the majority of work leading up to then had been cardio based for the Open.

Going forward I will continue to work on my strength and then prepare to kick ass in the Open next year.

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