Last week we discussed the importance of “why” butterfly pull-ups. This week on Technique Tuesday we will discuss the START of “the how.”
Now if you are anything like me, I Google everything. So when I first started out trying to learn butterfly pull-ups, I not only was talking to my trainer at the time but also spending copious amounts of time in front of my computer watching what I would describe as “CrossFit porn.” Yes, “CrossFit porn.” Where you watch hour upon hour of video tutorials on how to get your first ________ in this case butterfly pull-up.
Looking back on it what did I accomplish? Absolutely nothing! I was getting tips and tricks from a ton of different coaches in which all had enough differences when combined, made no sense and had me essentially chasing…. a butterfly? (Side note: listen to your coach, trust them and the process. Do not bounce around from program to program after a couple of days. This process takes weeks/months if not more. If you find yourself still questioning your coach, confront them first and then if you are still not getting adequate answers, find a new one!)
So where did I start? Where should you start? The real question should be….. is it a one size fits all?
Those, my friends, are the million dollar questions! Truthfully where I started and where you are going to start, are two entirely different worlds. Some of us will watch someone do it, and in the matter of minutes be able to string 10+ together… I was not one of those athletes…So if becoming that beautiful Monarch isn’t in your genes, does that mean you should give up your dreams and inhibitions to becoming the next fittest athlete in Montana, the West Region, or shit, dare I even say the world??!?!?!!? I am honestly not going to answer that because there are far to many variables but if you find yourself just wanting to improve or start you butterfly journey, you need to know where to begin.
So where do you?
Truthfully I don’t know but your trainer/coach should! When we have athletes approach us about progressing to the butterfly pull-ups I ask myself these questions to start out (some of these you may have seen from last weeks post)……
- Who is doing it, how many, and why?
- How is their range of motion through the hip, thoracic spine, shoulders, etc., etc.?
- Can you show not only control but strength through full range of motion?
- Do you understand and can show proper positioning on the bar (Hollow and Arch positions/Kip Swing)
- Do you posses scapular strength and stability to properly kip?
- Have you been working on a proper foundation (virtuosity through movements!)
- How good is your strict pull up positions, can you maintain hollow throughout the movement?
- Any injuries (current or past)?
Depending on the answers to these we begin the process!
For most of our athletes as mentioned in the previous Technique Tuesday we run a strength cycle to help “strengthen” and improve movement CORRECTLY!! In conjunction to our strength cycle we work on bar positioning. Now this does not necessarily need to be done while hanging on the bar.
- TABATA Hollow rocks and holds
- TABATA Arch holds and rocks
- Arch Hollow Rolls
These are a few of the movements we do to perfect movement and positioning on the bar. After all your ability to kip or butterfly efficiently, effectively and safely comes down to how quickly can I get in and out of these positions! (BONUS TIP: Improving and strengthening these positions will help with all things “gymnastics”…… Toes to Bar, Chest to Bar, Bar and Ring Muscle Ups).
Two of the many drills we use at Beartooth CrossFit to help with bar positioning is the Negative Pull-up and Scap Pull-up. These two are great for building strength through the entire range of motion in which I have found that jumping pull-ups and banded pull-ups cannot do!
So homework for next time……
One, have a discussion with your coach(s) about developing a proper plan for where you are now. Coaches, make sure this plan isn’t simply how many they can do but how many they can do perfectly…. So yes that means if they can do 10 strict pull-ups but can’t do one perfectly then they start at 0. Secondly, try adding this at least twice into your training this week!
Inverse TABATA – 4 Min
Rd. 1 – Arch Hold on Bar
Rd. 2 – Hollow Hold on Bar
Rotate through this couplet until the four minutes are up
5 x 3 of the following complex
5 sec negative pull-up (based on ability add or subtract time in the negative) + 2 Scap Pull-ups
Key Points: On the negative, start with pull-up bar placed in your palm with your chin tucked. As you are moving from flexion to extension make sure your elbows point forward or “stay in.” Rib Cage stays glued down meaning no arching through your thoracic spine! Lower yourself to an active hang (shoulders and ears separated) then to a dead hang. Activate your lats to then separate shoulders from ears. I recommend utilizing a box to get back up to the top of your pull-up position before starting rep number 2.
Below you will find a video of a proper scap pull up from our friends at Power Monkey Fitness!
As always, post any videos, picture, comments on your butterfly progressions!