ParaWOD: Thou shalt not bear false witness, but thou shalt bear false grip

We have discussed muscle-up progression in the past, focusing on range of motion, scaling, and the ever-difficult transition phase. We neglected to discuss the starting point and initially most critical aspect of the muscle-up, which is the grip on the rings itself.

If you are able-bodied or if you can generate a kipping motion with your lower extremities, then you probably have the ability to do a kipping muscle-up, which is the kind you’re going to see most often in Crossfit gyms or the Crossfit games. HOWEVER…if you can’t do a kipping motion, congratulations. You’re about to surpass those squids with a strict muscle-up.

The grip we want is called a false grip. It is called false because you’re not holding the ring the way you would naturally by curling around your fingers and thumb, but instead wrapping your entire wrist around the ring. Why do it this way? For starters, because it hurts, so that must be a good thing.

Not really. In fact, the false grip is a basic gymnastics discipline because of the control it gives you over the rings and your own body. There is no way you can do a strict ring muscle-up with a normal grip; you will not be able to elevate your torso high enough, or shift it forward far enough, if you can’t control the rings to the point where you’re using your arm strength to move them underneath your own weight.

Like I said, this is going to hurt at first. Let’s watch a pro:

Now it is our turn. Roll that wrist over the ring so you feel like you’re 13 years old trying to flex your biceps.  The top of your hand should be relatively flat; that’s how you know your wrist is curled far enough. If it isn’t, when you put weight on it your hand will slip.

Locked in!

You got one locked in? Now let’s do both hands!

Get a good grip with both hands!

It is time to put some weight on it. Keep the wrists locked in and your elbows in front of you. Doing so will allow you to drive your elbows toward your hips, which will give you maximum height in the pull-up part, which is critical if you want to move into the transition stage.

For now, let us just focus on getting as high into the pull-up as we can. Try to touch the rings to your pectorals.

Can you do a hollow body?

Now, spend some time hanging so the photographer can really capture the anguish on your face. Yeah it hurts.

Now...hold for the camera

Work on controlled pull-ups in this false grip position. Slow on the negative movement, but explosive and powerful on the positive movement.

If you want to turn this into a mini-WOD, alternate this false grip pull-up with dips. You can do the same number of dips as you can with the pull-up, OR you can do inverted ladders. I.e. Start with 8 false grip pull-ups and 1 dip. Next round, 7 pull-ups, 2 dips. Then 6 pull-ups, 3 dips, etc.

You will start this process realizing how weak your wrists and hands really are. You will end it feeling like you can make your grip last forever.

Thanks to Joe Villegas for his coaching and photography and for making me hang on the rings for so dang long.

6/8/15 ParaWOD: battle rope swingin’, dippin’, and benchin’ your face off

Monday offered up a full Crossfit experience:

Warm-up: at your own pace

  • Band pull-aparts
  • First rib shoulder smash – let’s spend some time here.

If you use a wheelchair, or even if you spend a lot of time at a desk at your job, chances are that your shoulders over time have developed a tightening in the neck area where we have our first rib. What is a first rib? It’s way up there in a place where you probably didn’t even know you had a rib. It also gets pinched over time, which prevents arm raising abduction from its full range of motion. So what we do to mobilize the first rib is to apply a Mobility WOD technique (bookmark that web site; it’s invaluable for self-treatment) and drive a weighted bar onto the first rib. Here is what it looks like:

Bad news – this hurts like the dickens, as it opens up the shoulder area. Good news – it works, and it works fast, which you can see as you test and re-test the motion. Try it with the taped up tennis ball for extra bounds of fun/pain.


A: Bench Press – Pause on the Chest(2s); 5×5


In the words of Coach Tyler, “Bench More!”

This time around, the focus is on a slower repetition and control. Get to a weight that is about 80% of your 3 rep max, or in other words something you won’t have difficulty getting 5 reps out of. Then, we’re going to use the negative motion to slow things down (count 2 seconds) and then pause for 2 seconds at the bottom. After the pause, explode upward and re-start. Five reps, five rounds. As you slow things down, you will really feel the movement engage a lot of muscles you don’t even think about during the bench press.

B1: Dips @ 31X1, 3×6-8
B2: Pull-ups @ 21X2, 3×5-6

We got this one as well. Alternate between a dip (Matador, parallettes) and strict pull-ups (bar, rings), using the pausing effect to prolong the agony.


3 movements, AMRAP for 10 minutes.

1) Time for some battle rope! It is like double-dutch for the para-athlete.


It doesn’t really matter which movement you do, so pick one. The reason why this movement is great for the para-athlete is that it forces us to really concentrate on our core strength and balance. Swing too hard, and we will topple right out of our chairs. Get the rhythm right, and your muscles will engage and counter-engage appropriately, improving overall balance.

2) 150 meter row

3) KB press, 7 reps per arm

Once you’re comfortable with handling the rope as well as the transitioning, this is a workout where you should be able to get at least 3 rounds complete.