by Andrew B
Is one of your goals to do better or more pull-ups? Whether stronger, faster, and/or more efficient, we could all improve our pullup. To develop any of the unassisted pulling skills (think strict/kipping pullup, false-grip ring pullup, butterfly pullup, strict/kipping muscle-up, rope climb, etc) you’ll need to understand how to control your shoulder blades aka your scaps. For simplicity sake we’ll cover four shoulder-specific movements:
Retraction – Protraction – Elevation – Depression
Controlling these movements at will allow for better ability in athletics and life! Except you’re super stiff and lack control since you’re hunched over a computer or phone right now so practice is in order. Because this is a small movement, frequent or high volume is necessary.
The shoulder is as important for the upper body just like the hips are important for the lower body. Let’s go into the details a bit more:
Backward movement of the shoulder girdle towards the spine. Think of pulling your scaps together like the end of a ring row. You can see the shirt scrunch up between the blades. Notice how the body adopts a natural arch shape while actively pulling the bar backwards. The angles don’t reveal much of the relationship between the head and the arms, but the ears are forward of the arms. For those lacking adequate overhead mobility the arms may start to bend.
Upward movement and spread of the shoulder girdle. Think of the position demanded for a good shrug or freestanding handstand. If you contrast this with the picture above Tony doesn’t have any space between his shoulders and ears, which are in complete alignment with the rest of his spine.
Protraction is forward movement of the shoulder girdle away from the spine. Think of pushing your shoulder blades apart like the gymnastics plank. See the global hollow shape that comes in to play? The shoulder angle also decreases up from profile view, revealing the head and ears behind the arms.
Depression is downward movement of the shoulder girdle. Think of holding yourself at top support after a dip on parallel bars or rings or if you do a heavy farmer’s carry. You can see that Tony has a lot more space between his ears and shoulders from the back view now.
In some training circles they’ll say “active shoulder” and show shoulder depression while hanging. When you know how to activate your shoulder in all four directions ALL OF YOUR MOTIONS are “active shoulders”. Here’s one of the many skills you can develop with complete control- the butterfly pullup:
Tony starts with small articulation of the scaps, then includes a bit of pull with the arms until full range can be achieved without breaking rhythm of the kip.
Want to learn this stuff in person and see what other control can contribute to more advanced CrossFit movements (or sustained high-cycling) come to our F.I.T.Tech classes (Pulling Dynamics 101, Pulling Dynamics 201: Advanced Applications) at 6am, 12pm, and 5:30pm.
Big thanks to Tony aka TDoggyDog aka @laulaulemon for being my demo!
SQUATS Week 10, Day 1
back squat 1x5x60/65/70/75
front squat 1x5x60/65/70/75
AMRAP in 15 minutes:
4 strict pullups
12 kettlebell snatch
Fitness = Cossack Squats and 20/12kg kettlebells. Performance = Pistols and 24/16kg kettlebell dead snatches.
Post score to comments!
“FIGHT GONE HELLABAD”
5 rounds, 1 minute for each movement:
1. double/single unders
2. dumbbell thrusters
3. push-ups/bent over rows
5. burpees + lateral hop
PULLING DYNAMICS 201: Advanced Applications
The 7 Essential Moves You Need For Function, Energy – The Seattle Times
Just over two years ago my friend and fellow Lululemon Alumni Ambassador Nicole Tsong who’s new book was just released) had a conversation about movements seen in all types of exercise. Her forte in yoga (doing CrossFit on the side), mine in CrossFit (doing yoga on the side) we both saw the crossover.
All this information remains relevant and truer than ever.