2/26/14: Deep Movement

“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.” – Jim Rohn

Above is the video of Emily Carothers doing strict pull-ups (a lot of them!) straight into perfectly connected butterfly pull-ups. I asked her to do this so you guys could see how we can start applying the fundamentals to those more complex movements. The most daunting pull up of them all, the butterfly pull-up, isn’t so intimidating when you understand how to control it with the hollow and arch positions.

As we dive into the different key positions in the sport of CrossFit, the one thing that we know is that the fundamental movements will never change. As CrossFit evolves, so too will the difficulty of the movements. My goal is to get you to correctly apply and be able to identify the basics so we can perform/coach the more complex movements with an overall better understanding. I don’t believe anyone is perfect but that is why we put in our work, day in and day out. In regards to these skill movements, quality is always preferred to high volume.

Today, I want to help you understand how to become functionally stronger with the pull-up while in the hollow position and how to apply it to the other movements.

When you lock in the hollow position, we are using the connective tissue to turn our entire body into one muscle (or at least that is the goal). Using the body as a whole will make us that much stronger.

The way you grip the pull-up bar or rings, makes a tremendous difference in the connectivity of the shoulder and lats during these movements. Getting your knuckles on top of the bar/rings,  helps engage the shoulder and lats. This is the secret for reducing the “clunk” in the bottom position. Even with all the force at the bottom of a bar muscle-up, Emily still maintains this knuckles on top of the bar position. Notice in the photo below her grip and more importantly how engaged her lats are.


Think about a male gymnast on the rings . Throughout the entire routine, his body is locked in as one.


I have put two pictures below to help you understand with what we do. One is of Emily,  a top crossfit games athlete on the pull-up rig, muscle ups and rope climbs . She recently has learned a better understanding of this position of strength (as seen below). That is what we have been working on with her with her muscle-ups. Recently she did 15 unbroken muscle-ups!!


With the picture below, you have an elite individual named Jordan James or “JJ” as we call him.  He just turned one years old and is attempting to scale a counter top. He happens to be my nephew and I think it is fair to say, he is pretty strong. The beauty of it is is that these positions come natural to him with his back and shoulder engagement (aka lats and traps). If the correct engagement isn’t happening with every repetition, we inevitably aren’t going to be as efficient/strong as we can be.


Skill- 5 rds- max effort hold in the hollow position with the bar below your chin. Instead of dropping off of the bar, lower yourself as slowly as possible. Rest 30 seconds

Thanks again for all of the support this week!!

Coach Poppa


7 responses to “2/26/14: Deep Movement

  1. Great post! These really help someone (like me) see the translation of the basic positions into application. Thank you. Love this new series.

  2. Great post! I love you showing the picture of the kid climbing up the counter. I’ll watch my one year old squat, pull herself up and pick things up with “perfect form” because she’s simply doing what is natural and best lets herself perform these tasks

  3. I attended the outlaw camp in Jan. I’ve been doing hollow and arch holds in my warmup and I have seen a tremendous improvement in body control that translates to all other movements. All gyms need to be stressing these basics to everyone.

  4. Dear Mike, I love the Deep Movement blog and did the prescribed pull up holds this morning. One question that popped into my mind was what about grip width for the pullup. does it matter how wide/ narrow an athlete has their hands on the bar? It appears that Emily is pretty narrow with hers in the video above. Would (narrow vs wide) make a difference in how many pullups and athlete would get?

    My question is related to the overhead press in regard to the fact that I used to have too wide of a grip on the bar when I started doing working on my overhead press. My weights were not moving up and so I sought advice and videos for help. one thing I picked up on was that when I narrowed my grip (thumbs touching the smooth), i was able to increase my weights on the overhead press. I wonder if pullup grip width might have the same relationship.

    • In regards to your first question, it will make a difference depending on where you are stronger at with your grip width. Because of Emily’s gymnastics back ground, she tends to pull and press directly above and below her shoulder width, keeping everything stacked. I always suggest a happy medium that is roughly a fist width outside shoulder width.
      It is hard to say in relation to your press though. I would play around with some different hand positions and find one you feel the strongest with. I use the same grip for all pullups, toes to bar and bar muscle ups. I hope this helps. Thanks for the support!

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