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Rest Day

Rest Day WOD:
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A New Project

Don't forget to mark your calendars for the CFSBK Community Paleo Potluck on January 19th. The RSVPs on the event page are already starting to roll in.

So Close To a Pull-Up..

Are you "So Close" to a pull-up? Do you feel like it's within reach but has still eluded you despite your most sincere efforts? Below are three things I think will help folks who are close to pulling body weight get over the bar.

Start with Chin-Ups
Chin-ups are easier than pull-ups and you're more likely to get your first chin-up sooner than your first pull-up so it's a pretty good place to start. In my experience once a couple chins have been developed the pull-up magically shows up a lot faster. That being said, both versions are totally legit and huge milestones for anyone who didn't have them before.  Chins are also easier for people to organize well. The upper arm is already rotated into a more stable position and the last few inches over the bar usually involve less neck craning and wiggling. Once you can do about 3-5 chin-ups you'll be a Lot closer (if not already there) to the pull-up. When performing chin-ups, keep your hands just inside shoulder width and imagine pulling the bar down to your chest, not pulling yourself up to it. That cue usually helps people fire the upper back and pull the elbows posteriorly during the ascent, both good things.

Keep The Reps Low
If you're struggling to get your first pull-up, your muscles experience the effort as a near maximal exertion.  You're going for something that you'll only be able to do 1 rep of (right now), so when we train to develop our first pull-up a lot of our reps should look and feel pretty similar.  Several doubles or singles with just enough resistance to clear the bar is better than high volume sets of 5 or 10 with much more assistance. If you were a 1 rep max obsessed lifter, you wouldn't spend all your time doing sets of 5 and 10, you'd perform submax singles, doubles and triples more often to get your body ready for the effort.  Here are two examples of productive training sessions:

7 sets of 1 rep with ample rest
5 sets of 2-3 reps with ample rest

"Ample Rest" could be anywhere from a minute to three minutes depending on how much you require to get another successful rep. Because this is going to be a strain, make sure to warm-up with some ring rows and more heavily assisted pull-ups. 2-3 sets of 5 reps should be sufficient.

When you're scaling workouts, use the lowest volume option possible. 20 Kipping pull-ups as Rxd on the workout might be 5 chin-ups for you. That component of the workout won't have anywhere near the same conditioning effect but depending on your goals that might be okay.

That being said, a little volume isn't a bad thing. Just remember that if you want to get a pull-up you've got to train in a way that feels similar to your goal.

Resistance Matters

While the big jump-stretch bands can be a valuble tool in this process, they shouldn't the only or even the majority of assistance you use. In my opinion, having a good spotter is ideal. Someone who knows how to give you just enough help to make you finish the rep without any jerky movement, uneven assistance or too much pushing. You've got good hands on you if you never get "stuck" anywhere in the rep but still work really hard at the most difficult positions (the very top and the first few inches at the bottom). The range of motion should be smooth and you should be able maintain good organization throughout. Another option is using a band just below what you can do on your own and having a partner gently push you through the finish. Depending on the size, height and strength of everyone involved, sometimes this is a more practical solution and can lead to better spotting. If you're working with someone who is not a coach or giving you too much/too little/weird help, tell them what you feel and work together to make it better. One major problem with bands alone is that at the top of a rep you're getting the least help since the band tension decreases as you ascend.  If you're flying solo, choose a band that helps you get all the way over the bar, not just enough so that when you reach your chin can barely make it over the bar. That's a no rep.

Hopefully these three tips can help you find some success with getting your first pull-up. Make your goal to not only do it, but do it well. If you train smart in the beginning and pay attention to your neck and shoulder positions you'll develop a solid foundation to build off of. If you make your emphasis simply getting any sliver of your chin over the bar, things will be a lot slower and less awesome for you.  To see exactly what I'm talking about, watch this MobilityWOD: Stop The Pull-Up Chicken Necking People

An alien shows up in your apartment and asks you to show it 5 examples of what human culture has achieved. This can be technology, art, architecture, philosophy, science.. anything! What 5 things do you choose?

Reader Comments (35)

The Top 5 Human Achievements I'd Share with an Alien

1) Darwin's Theory of Evolution
2) Buddhist Emptiness teachings
3) Tragedies of William Shakespeare
4) The Hubble space telescope
5) New York CIty

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Turnbull

this is a layup:

1. honey boo boo
2. keeping up with the kardashians
3. girls gone wild
4. I'm a celebrity, get me out of here
5. Jerry Springer Show.

in all seriousness,

1. Our greatest classical composers. (Beethoven, Mozart, etc.)
2. A compilation of our classic authors (Dostoyevsky, Dickens, etc.)
3. A church/synagogue/mosque, to witness human faith
4. A museum. Met, Louvre, etc., take your pick
5. The Olympics

Can't wait to see the other great ideas.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJR

JR's alien is going to be busy.

St. Matthew's Passion by JS Bach
The Vedas and the Lotus Sutra
the city of Florence (this includes art and cappuccino)
King Lear

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlex C

Deadlifted today instead of yesterday because I did something funny to my shoulder on Snatchy Sunday. 225, and 35# for my best rounds of DB bench press. I want to add at least 10# to my deadlift PR this cycle -- my PR from March was 230, so I bet I can do it.

QOTD: I know I'm going to take some flak for one of my choices, but mine are Atlas Shrugged, Michelangelo's David, the smallpox vaccine, Bach's B minor mass, and I will copy D-Turn and say NYC.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStella

I would try to show a balance of the evil and brilliance of what the human culture has endured, overcome and accomplished.

1. 9/11 Footage
2. Walk through the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
3. Trip to the Empire State Building, Great Wall of China, Golden Gate Bridge and Panama Canal.
4. Tour of The Dachau Concentration Camp, probably the most powerful place on earth.
5. The Olympic Games.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMattyChm

1. Dubai (Burj Khalifa in particular)
2. NYC (food and culture and the huge mash-up of those things in NYC)
3. Renzo Piano's Parca della Musica in Rome (to hear a performance)
4. Hubble telescope (good call!)
5. Shakespeare

5 is hard... I keep thinking of more. But those are the first ones that popped to mind.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterasta

With the proviso that these choices are pretty arbitrary and personal and no 5 things can be truly representative:

1) "The Cossacks" by Leo Tolstoy
2) "Girl with a Pearl Earring" by Vermeer
3) The Iliad and The Odyssey
4) The Human Genome Project
5) Beethoven's Last Quartets

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R.

1. Beer
2. De Maria's The Lightning Field (admittedly, I haven't seen it, but plan to someday)
3. Seconding particle accelerators
4. Ulysses
5. I'd send the alien packing and get it to see the Voyager 2 probe

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterScott

I was distracted by the alien question and forgot to mention that:

1) I have signed up for the Rippetoe seminar in April. You should too. It will sell out quickly, no doubt.
2) Very excited to be back on the platform tonight.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Turnbull

Oh yes: PULLUPS! Chinups are totally a gateway drug to pullups. It took me 11 months to get my first chinup, but only about 2 or 3 weeks after that to get a pullup.

Question: I just started Fox's pullup program, intermediate-style (http://www.crossfitsouthbrooklyn.com/workout-of-the-day/2011/5/11/developing-your-pull-up.html). I have 3 strict pullups fairly consistently (at least, if I haven't just done a WOD that involves shoulder stuff). I tried the six sets of two last night and I made all of my sets, but I was definitely chicken-necking the second pullup on each of my last two sets (because my muscles were too fatigued to get me all the way to the top, not because I was sandbagging). Should I maybe try more than 1 minute of rest between sets to allow myself to make that last rep totally legit?

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStella

6am CRASH-B rowing: 3 x 2000m with 5min rest: 7:07.9, 7:07.1, 7:06.6. That was just as hard as it sounds. Oomph. I'd try and answer the QOD, but my brain is still muddled.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

aliens in my apartment:

1) all three seasons of arrested development, 4 if the invasion is after the summer
2) my cats, behold we have domesticated wild animals!
3) wine, because someone already said beer
4) statue of liberty from my roof deck & kindly ask them not to use it as a vessel to leave out planet
5) an iPad, that technology is probs way beneath them and then i'll get vaporized by their mind thoughts

deadlifts last night at 6:30p with melissa & noah. worked up to 130x5x3 which feels like a nice place to start this cycle. CRASH-B rowing 3x2000m/5' and although i don't want to post my times after peter's here goes 9:02.9, 9:14.5, 9:23.8. the first one was on target for the 2:16/500m pace i was trying to hit. the second felt pretty awful and i was happy to survive the third.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterginacatto

Thanks to everyone at 6am who welcomed Charley and put up with some puppy whining, she really wanted to give Sumo Deadlifts and Pallof Holds a try, but she has not opposable thumbs. Painful reminder.

Really like the Sumo over conventional deadlift - hit #165 3x5.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Aliens Have Achieved the Following:

1) Sexy Time
2) Borat
3) Prospect Park
4) Junot Diaz
5) The 1996 New York Yankees

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDH3

Stella - yes, if you have time. If not then keep the reps low enough to be legit.


1- Companion Dogs
2- Heavy Metal
3- Video anthology of the American Civil Rights Movement
4- Video anthology of modern war (WW1 - present)
5- A sit down session to look at photos of my loved ones, alive and dead, along with tidbits about each photo and person. To help explain, you know, love.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFox

YAY, I was afraid the answer was going to be "get a partner to help you!" I usually have a fair amount of time to do this stuff (I like to do pullup practice in my building's gym after I've done a quick treadmill run), but partners are in short supply down there. :)

I think I can do 6 sets of 2 as long as I rest more like 1:30-2:00 between sets.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStella

My favorite answers from above are beer and NYC. Home sick today blah! Hope it blows over soon. Sticking to the food, cooking big pots of food is really helping to eat well even when feeling puny.

Strange question - is anyone actually thirstier from drinking all the water. I know it sounds silly but this challenge is upping my water intake by about 75%. I am glad to be doing it cause I know my old habits were really un-healthy. But I have to say the benefits are not showing up yet, feels kinda odd still. In others experience when does the body start adapting?


January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMel

@Mel yes! yesterday i had 6 of my 32oz bottle of water as well as other assorted beverages. i felt like i couldn't drink enough water yesterday, it was weird. so far today i'm on my 4th. i don't know, the more water you drink, the more water you drink. is that a saying?

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterginacatto

Mel and Stella: Me too. Maybe if you're cutting down on carbs, your cells aren't retaining as much water so you're way thirstier? I know that carbs have something to do with how much water your cells hold and that cutting out carbs causes you to lose water weight.


January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNino

There is something called hypponatremia which is basically overhydration and the resultant imbalance in electrolytes. It's usually found in endurance athletes who deplete their sodium levels and "hydrate" with only water. I doubt anyone at CFSBK is in this camp. If, however, you are taking in more protein and are low enough in carbs (carbs do help retain water) that you are in ketosis (is your urine smelling 'sweet-ish'? google ketosis) then you may consider taking some potassium-magnesium salts in your water to keep electrolytes balanced, especially if you're staying low carb for a while. Which, IMO, you should only be doing if your primary goal is (more) rapid fat loss. Hope that helps.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFox


1. Istanbul, because I think the incongruity of the ancient and modern sharing space gives a fascinating perspective on human achievement.
2. Heathrow. The world's busiest, most international airport is like the UN, except that it mostly works.
3. Ferran Adria.
4. I like the idea of including a glimpse of the evil our achievements have cast: film footage of WWII.
5. I don't even really love opera, but experiencing Verdi, aurally and visually, at the Met is pretty damn thrilling.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon

Hey guys! Long time no post!

I've been following a heavily olympic based programming lately (similar to the Fox man) and didn't want to bore you with my silly percentage based workouts, rep schemes, etc.

Anyhow, I took comp class tonight and miss the group environment!

Warmup: 3 min row, ankle and wrist mobility

Strength: Complex of 1 Clean pull + 1 Hang Clean
(65x2, 85x2, 105, 115,) 125, 135, 145, 150
really happy about this. I guess all of my cleaning work has paid off. This is just 3lbs shy of my squat clean PR, so pretty sure I've got more in me.

1 min AMRAP Hang Snatch @ 85# = 8 reps.
1 min rest
1 min AMRAP C2B pullups = 13 reps
1 min rest
2 min AMRAP Hand-release Burpees = 25 reps.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlady fox

Three sets, not for time, of:
20' Rope Climbs x 3 ascents
L-Sit x (15 seconds x 2 sets)
Supine Ring Row x 10 reps
- Not sure why I have such a hard time with L-sits.. weak or tight?
- Ring Row are difficult

Five sets of:
2-Position Snatch
(high hang, mid-thigh)
Rest as needed

Took an extended warm up for two reasons
- Brain D (great Olympic coach/lifter) was around so I wanted to take advantage of his eyes
- Have been feeling off with the movement although I have been improving
(It paid off cause I felt like I owned the weight, he gave me great "cues" and pointers)

Three sets for times of:
Power Snatch x 3 reps @155#
Overhead Squat x 6 reps @155#
Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups x 12 reps
Rest 2 minutes

Round 1
1:05 OHS & Pulls up Unbroken
Round 2
:58 All Unbroken
Round 3
:52 All Unbroken
- Have more confidences in ability!
- Work on transitioning between movements faster, Don't linger!

For time:
Row 1000 Meters
25 Pull-Ups
20 Alternating Pistols
15 Pull-Ups
10 Alternating Pistols

- Felt nauseated in the first 250m, so slowed down a bit on the erg
- When I got off I need to push myself a bit harder.. I didn't start lighting a fire under my ass until the 15 pull ups and 10 pistols

January 8, 2013 | Registered CommenterJoshua Martinez

Speaking of carbs... I've been having a sweet potato after i work out most days. Otherwise i keep my carbs to vegetables and a small amount of fruit. But do you think that sweet potato is too high in carbs, even after a workout?

Im a little nervous because i thought Ive been doing really well and then I weighed myself today and Ive actually gained weight since dialing in my nutrition around Christmas so I feel like I must be doing something wrong. But the usual culprits that I would look at -- cheese, fruit, and nuts -- I really have been keeping to a minimum. So I'm trying to look at other things, and zeroed in on that sweet potato.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterariel

Brandon posts for me, with the exception of opera, which is an abomination unto all beings.

I suspect that the "ancient" cities like Istanbul were a hundred thousand times more impactful than our metropoles.

Also, I think the Inquisition is a capital-e Evil that matches or exceeds the genocide of WWII. So if including something so terrible is a good idea, for the aliens, you know, I vote for the Inquisition.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermichele

Row: 3x2000/5 (8:06.7, 8:24.3, 8:54.3)

This was really not fun, by any measure. 1st interval was fine, paced myself well didn't go crazy, kept ok technique. Still ran into the wall on the 2nd round though, I was on the same pace as the 1st then BOOM! 3rd round was basically being pinned against the wall by a Mack truck and fighting for survival. I had a massive headache, was extremely thirsty and my glutes, calves and shins were on fire. Technique was was basically shit at this point. Getting a better idea of what needs to be done and how though. Didn't do the 10 hard pulls on 1000 in the first and at the start of the 2nd. Definitely still lots more to learn on how to be more efficient. You still can't out train a bad diet.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCloyde

Boy, it's been slow going so far this year, but I got back into the gym for the first time since Thursday. Diet and sleep have been good still, but only just got my fish oil today and the water thing is just not happening.... Glad strength cycle has started.

I'm starting it easy and am going to take it slow. Doing 5-4-3-2-1-1-1 on squats and working with Jeremy to figure out the rest. Chose my press and DL weights today based on what my chatty-kathy platform partners were doing. (David and Rahsaan).

Squat: Worked up to singles at 275, 290, 305
Pretty simple, not much pop. About 50 or 60 pounds off Thanksgiving time.

Press: 125x3x3
First time pressing in forever. Didn't feel all that great.

Deadlift: 295x5
Very easy.

At some point I did 6 chins.

I then jumped into a WOD Noah made up. A nice couplet:
250m row and then 20 KB swings (20KG), then one minute rest. Three times.

Eating some awesome bone broth w/ short ribs and kale right now (2nd helping is cooling off). Will make 95 ounces of H2O today due to workout. Looking like a 5 point day.

Great question-- Fox I love your answers BTW. (Family photos, wow)

I'm going with less personal:
1) The particle accelerator in Europe (the one that is suppose to create a black hole and destroy the universe. Hopefully they can confirm or deny that theory)
2) I was thinking Beethoven's 9th, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring or Mozart's Requiem, but maybe the movie The Wall.
3) The Metropolitan Museum of Art-- it's got most bases covered.
4) The aerospace museum in DC-- I haven't been there since a kid, but I think it will gives a good overview of our engineering. Also thought of Hoover dam...
5) Getting stuck. Like the idea showing the dark side, but also a city (NYC of course) is about as rich and human as you can get.

January 8, 2013 | Registered CommenterRob Is

Big brain fart and did way too much tonight.

Squatted up to 185 for the second FSQ exposure. I'm making 10lb jumps to start this cycle since I started very conservatively last week. Looking like I'll go to 5lbs towards the end.

Then joined in the pain party that is CRASH-B rows.

3x2000m, 5' rest: 7:11, 7:22, 7:24

Wowza. In the end pleased that the pieces were within a reasonable range. The first, while not casual, was probably 85-90% effort, while the last two were struggles to keep the time close. I sprinted the last 250m or so in round 3. I could see it in my opening ten pulls, which felt fine but weren't registering in the second and third rounds.

Not sure where my technique is--I can say for sure that I know how to cue myself to get a few good strokes in when I'm lagging, but I'm far from confident that my stroke by stroke looks like what Nick wants it to.

I did notice that my stroke rating was super low compared to normal. I raced last year at about 30SPM, and was around 24-26 for much of the time today. I'm weirdly excited to do more of these--totally not the rational response, I know.

January 8, 2013 | Registered CommenterRyan

re: water

Your kidneys adapt pretty quickly to changing levels of hydration. The decreased carbs or etc doesn't really have to do with the feedback mechanism. (Maybe the salt you put on it does, moreso.) If your body has adjusted to a certain amount of water, you're putting out a lot more fluid (re: peeing) then it's going to think that you should continue that level to maintain current balance and elicit thirst. If you didn't sate that thirst, then it would adjust the amount of fluid you put out accordingly.

The water is good as far as helping your body to flush out any form of toxins or waste products. The more water retention you have, the slower you will do this. Hence the thought process behind increasing hydration.

Hyponatremia/Hypokalemia usually only occurs in extreme situations, like the woman who killed herself in Seattle about 8 years ago on a radio show challenge... or as in the case with endurance athletes, as Fox described above.

January 8, 2013 | Registered CommenterSarah la Rosa

Lovely 8:30pm with the MeLo. I love the new schedule by the way - it allows me to make the occasional night class, which I couldn't do before. So many new faces at night!

Anyway, made up yesterday's (sumo) dead lifts and worked up to 445. It wasn't fast, but I definitely have more. I think my simian anthropometry makes the sumo easier than the conventional dl.

QOD: I'd just punch the alien in the face and say "welcome to earf."

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBetz

Hi my name is Crystal and I probably post as often as I work out. That is a more honest reply to tonight's question.

6:30 with Josh and Melo. It's been a couple of weeks for me and although I was mentally prepared to come back I was worried that I physically would not be. My dead lift was 115x3x5, that is the most reps I have ever done at one time and it felt like a good place to grow from. Dumb bell presses I started cautiously, 17.5x10, 20x10, 20x10. I think they felt easier than I remember them being. I wish I had taken a break sooner for a shorter period of time. It feels great to be back.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercrystal

First day of strength cycle. It was all I dreamed of and more! Happy to be starting low-ish since I haven't done a proper deload in a while.

45x5 95x5 135x5 185x3x5

45x5 65x5 75x5 85x3x5

135x5 185x5 205x5

Looking to gain some weight this cycle (hence not signing up for the LFPB challenge) but I've been keeping up strict paleo (plus some dairy) so far this month. I just eat like an animal to get my calories in. Came home to a protein shake followed by a heap of chard, 2 sweet potatoes, and a big bowl of fish stew with a couple tablespoons of olive oil on top. I'll probably down some greek yogurt and fruit for dessert. We'll see if I end up resorting to "GOMAD" if the scale doesn't show some increase in the first month.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTodd

And I've been thinking about the question all day, concentrating on things I could actually see/do/show in a day... here's what I have in my brain for now:

-Crime and Punishment (or Gravity's Rainbow if he seemed "down")

-Some music, probably something I geek out to like Steve Reich's "Music for 18 Musicians"

-Can't think of a single narrative film that would be THE perfect choice, but maybe something like Baraka

-NYC museum tour would definitely fit the bill, the Met being first choice

-A food tour would also be awesome, since one "WOW" meal probably wouldn't paint a detailed enough picture of our food culture, but maybe Per Se or Corton or Ko for a single meal

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTodd

QOTD: I'm too tired to answer but somewhere in there it would require Aliens to carry my dog around, watch Freaks & Geeks, have cocktails and talk politics with my mom.

Tough Tits: Exceptionally pleased at the results of the day, I think my screaming FUCK YES when hitting my bench PR said it all. I was so pumped that I got a spotter and did another rep, 5# more, on a warmu-up rack for a total of a 20# increase from before I got sick and had surgery. Months and months. Amazing to see Margie and watch all the strong ladies and Mister Corbett kick serious ass. HUGE props to La Rosa for being the Yoda to my Luke Skywalker.

New Job: Started yesterday and already was busted for doing pushups in my cube. Oh, well. Happily I have access to a full kitchen so food is easy peasy but people seeing the quantity and commenting on it is weird. Also SCORE as Shaye is a few blocks away so train buddies to SBK. Woo! She bought me an ice tea today. So nice!

The Healthy Challenge: All cool and no probs.

DL's: Goal is 10# increase each week. Today started with 100. Then 17.5 on the DB bench press, tried 20# but left arm said no bueno. Then those Good Mornings (not) and Pallof Presses.. which I always wish I was watching a tv show or something when doing. Weird being in the late class tonight but happily saw a few of my 7am buddies. Melo and Josh were pretty fun and Arturo has joined the bandwagon to improve my posture.

I'm going to BED.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJB

did yesterday's work at 5:30PM class tonight

DL: work up to a heavy single
75x5, 95x3, 115x3, 145x1, 165x1, 185x1
still feeling a bit sore from Saturday's meet (plus football on Sunday and a dance class on Monday...), so kept it there instead of going HAM on it, as they say.

NFT work was good/interesting. DB bench press at 20lbs first round, then 25lbs for remaining. Think this pallof presses would be a good thing for me to keep in my rep, as core strength and resisting/controlling rotation is important for me with asymmetries.

active recovery with Fox to round out the night. calf mash on a barbell... hurts so good.

January 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWhit H

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