Pull-ups, while simple, are one of the most singularly effective training tools. As such, they show up across the majority of training programs and fitness communities in one form or another. Being able to repeatedly pull our own bodies against gravity and win is a pretty cool party trick, but more importantly, our capacity to do so helps us maximize our potential and minimize our risk of injury across a variety of other movements.
Pull-ups for health:
Strengthening the big muscles in our back, core (and even our pelvis and glutes), this basic body-weight movement helps to give our body the tools it needs to maintain good posture and positions in both our daily movements and major lifts, preventing back and shoulder injuries both in and outside of the gym.
Pull-ups help keep our spines stable during exercises like squats and deadlifts as the muscles strengthened in vertical pulling assist in spinal stabilization and, when strong, support better positions under load. As the weight bears down on our bodies, the muscles surrounding the spine are more capable of pulling against gravity to keep our spine long and resist compression.
Similarly, pull-ups keep the “push and pull” forces balanced within the shoulder. As CrossFitters, a lot of the work we do involves pushing weight in various directions and at higher repetitions. Most of us arrive with a deficiency in pulling, due to the nature of modern life, and then continue building weight in our push press, jerk, and even improve our bench, but not make many gains in pullup strength or capacity. It is important to train both directions and have a balance between the amount you can lift between them.
When our major pulling muscles are weak relative to other muscles, they can also get tight-forming knots that land us on a lacrosse ball regularly and cause poor upper back mobility (this is our body’s way of stabilizing as best it can). On the flipside, other muscles could be overworking and tighten as a result. How is your upper back and shoulder mobility? How does your pullup (or weighted pullup) compare to your bench? What about endurance capacity? Can you maintain 80% in both for roughly the same number of reps?
Pull-ups for fitness:
Key muscles utilized in the pull-up assist our bodies in stabilizing during dynamic movements as well. Continuing to strengthen these muscles as our other lifts and skills increase helps us to maintain or improve technique and muscular endurance. Our grip improves, the bar stays closer, and it does so for a greater number of reps.
Slowing down and perfecting the pull-up helps our bodies to optimize the way the muscles of our upper back and core work together- as they must do in a proper pullup. Strengthening that pattern with more load or volume then allows us to be capable of repeating that synchronization in in other exercises as well. We can keep the right muscles doing the right job at the right time when we move (instead of having our traps overwork and do everything for us…you know who you are).
If you are interested in achieving your goal of getting a pull-up or refining your pull-up form (both strict and kipping), please join us for the upcoming seminar to learn progressions, skill your individual movement pattern, and improve the quality of your movements. This is a great opportunity to break down this simple, yet complex movement, and fine tune your pulling mechanics.
We will be offering a pull-up seminar on Wednesday, January 23rd at 7:00pm. The seminar will be $20/person and will be capped at 12 spaces. Email Dan@southlandingcrossfit.com to reserve your spot today.
If you'd like to follow along with our weekly meal prep recipes, here is what we cooked this week!
Cut-up Veggies to add to eggs
Lunch & Dinner:
We did Buddha bowls (we didn't use a recipe), but try this one if you're interested in trying something similar.
Chili: this is one of our staples. We add a bunch of veggies. We don't use a specific recipe, but try this one, if you'd like to try something similar.Read More
Hello! My name is Dylan Craze and I am the new guy (intern) whom most of you all have seen walking around here lately. I want to take some time to write a little bit about who I am. My hope for this blog is to be open about myself as an individual, a coach, and someone who desires to help others reach their goals. So, where to start? I grew up here in Knoxville in the town of Farragut, I tried many sports growing up, ran around outside (a ton…), and did what most kids likely did, just be a kid. Growing older I didn’t continue my journey in sports, I actually became very lazy, and as a product put on quite a bit of weight. This provided some challenges especially as I got older. I developed a lot of insecurities about my body, was embarrassed to wear tight fitted clothing, and to be honest didn’t like taking my shirt off when I went to the neighborhood pool.
As I entered high school these feelings deepened. I tried to find new avenues to help with my weight, but nothing ever stuck. I felt trapped. Finally, I decided I wanted to change, so I joined the football team…surely this would help. And it did…Sort of. My sophomore year of high school I joined my school’s football team and found myself wrapped up in this new world of early morning weightlifting sessions, long evenings of conditioning, and even longer days wearing shoulder pads and pushing sleds (which I know everyone loves 😊). What’s funny is the mindset never changed. I still struggled with my body, still wasn’t totally confident, and battled with a lot of inner voices. Why? I think its because no one really showed me how to be HEALTHY. I did a lot of what the world said was right: eat less calories (BTW, not a smart idea for a sport that requires you to be bigger), workout more, rinse and repeat. Sure, there was some weight loss, but it didn’t help make me healthier, if anything it made me unhealthier.
This is where my passion for nutrition started. I was desperate to find a better way to do this thing. But as I evolved my own nutrition some seriously amazing things happened. The insecurities left, the lack of confidence about my body withered, and the drive to keep getting better was stronger than ever. What developed was a passion to teach people this same thing: that there is a better way to reaching your goals with a better body composition, developing a healthier mindset, and finding freedom in eating food. Since the end of my Freshman year of college I have been studying nutrition with plans of becoming a Registered Dietitian. I can confidently say I am almost there. With this I want to make nutrition education unbelievably accessible to everyone and provide a space for people to learn about nutrition. Thank you for taking time out of your day to read this. I am looking forward to my time here at South Landing CrossFit and building amazing relationships with all of you. Cheers!Read More
One of the most common misconceptions I see as a coach is the “no pain, no gain” attitude. I’ll admit that I fall into this trap myself from time to time and need to simply remind myself of a few simple things. Today I want to see if I can help people re-frame their mindset as it leans towards this idea in training and I specifically want to focus on if muscle soreness is an indicator of a good workout.
- Soreness is only a positive when recovery is made a priority. “I’m so sore I can barely get my hand above my head. I must have killed it in the gym yesterday!” Yes, you did probably kill it yesterday if you can’t even perform basic things like lifting your arm up and that workout may have produced great results, but are you recovering enough to make up the deficit? Think about muscle soreness like digging a ditch. You walk outside and dig a 4x4 hole in your yard because you want to plant something there. Once the hole is created you then begin filling it in with the plant/item you have intended to fill that hole with. But what if you don’t fill it back up? Well you just wasted a bit of time and energy without much to show for it. Recovery is the intentional filling in of the hole you have created from training. Make sure your soreness has a goal behind it before randomly attaining it.
- Is your goal to be sore or to see progress? I can bet that your goal is progress. Sure, soreness can feel like progress but is it actually leading to results? I work with people one on one every week who are constantly hitting bigger numbers, moving better, and achieving better times on their workouts all while never being so sore that they can’t perform. A simple way to know if you are on track is to ask your coach. Sometimes asking how you should feel is a great way to know if you are on track. Some days your coach may give you the green light to push and soreness may be a good indicator that you hit the intended stimulus but 9/10 times it probably shouldn’t be.
- Does your soreness impact your day to day life? One time I was talking to a friend of mine who mentioned that he hadn’t been working out like he used to and when I asked why he replied “I don’t have time to be incredibly sore and have a 40 hour a week job.” I couldn’t have loved this answer more because he was right. While I firmly believe that a good training program would allow him to have the best of both worlds my friend had his priorities in line and knew what he needed to put first. You should do the same. Your family, friends, and life outside of the gym come first and every single thing you do inside of the gym should benefit the time you spend outside of it. If it isn’t benefiting you then ask your coach where you can improve to make the necessary changes. Maybe your nutrition is lacking of your sleep is down. Maybe you need a more individualized approach that meets the exact needs of your life outside of the gym. Never be afraid to ask for the things that will benefit you as that is exactly what fitness should do. Fitness should always line up with your life.
- Remember that 300 good workouts will get you much farther than 50 incredible ones and 50 terrible ones. Work to always stay consistent in your exercise. If you can build consistency then you will be able to increase intensity. Don't do it the other way around because the reality is that that never works.
Overall I think soreness is a tool to be used. I don’t use a saw to hang my pictures on the wall or help put together a bed frame because they don’t match the given task and would honestly make a much bigger mess for me, but when the appropriate task arrives you can benefit greatly from using a saw. Think of soreness in the same light. Does the workout call for an effort that would leave you sore? Awesome! Give it your all! Did the coach who is leading your class prescribe you “stay steady” and “work at 70% effort” for the day? Give it the appropriate work and you will see a remarkable amount of progress to your goals.
Crossfit Level 2 Trainer
Now, that was a fun Saturday! For five hours South Landing was filled with cheers, high fives, new PR's, and celebration all around. What a day! This was the first every South Landing throw down, and it is safe to say it won't be the last.
The morning started cold, but honestly without rain, so we couldn't have asked for anything more. By mid morning the weather was perfect, and the hard work just continued inside of the walls.
Event One... phew that was a lot of fun! Each partner had to cash in with a 30 calorie row, followed by an AMRAP in the remaining 15 minute clock of DB Snatches, Burpees, Toes to Bar or Knee Ups, and Wallballs! You guys went hard! We were so impressed with each of you, and it was a fun workout to watch!
Event Two... Such a fun event as well! This was a two part event that started with a 1RM of a complex, and then followed by 3 minutes max calories on the bike! Who doesn't love max calories on the bike! We should do these more often :)!
Event Three... Finished the day with the event you guys voted on: sprint partner Helen. 3 Rounds each of 200 meter run, 12 KBS, and 6 pullups/ring rows. You guys absolutely crushed this workout. It was fun watching each of you push yourselves hard, cheer each other on, and end the day on a great note! Congrats to everyone and all of their hard work!
The Results... Here are your top finishers in each division. It was a super close race with each division, and "rock, paper, scissors" had to make an appearance to break a tie breaker in the men's RX division, but what a fun day it was! Great work everyone!
The Cookout... I think it is safe to say that Jonathan's famous BBQ skills have been talked about all year since our last BBQ party. Let's just say he did not disappoint. Jonathan and Brian got up at 3am to make sure we had the best BBQ in Knoxville, and boy was it amazing! It was an absolutely beautiful day with INCREDIBLE BBQ, amazing sides, and beautiful desserts.
Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate 2 years with us. Thank you to our judges and volunteers! You guys were absolutely amazing. We are beyond grateful for each and every one of you, and none of this would be possible without you. Here's to another great year ahead!
If you are anything like me you “research” things by going to Google and YouTube first. For this article I typed “Crossfit” into YouTube and in the top 10 videos I saw 7 shirtless male athletes, read the words “fittest”, “competition”, “all in”, and “crossfit games” multiple times, and I questioned my “fitness” about a thousand times in 15 seconds. This article is here to show you why that stuff shouldn’t even be in your mind.
One of my favorite lessons I have learned during my time as a coach is when I was introduced to the Sickness - Wellness - Fitness Continuum (pictured below). The main idea with the continuum is simply that true fitness is a product of health and not the other way around. Looking at it it seems obvious but if you look at the large majority of fitness videos online is that the order that seems to be promoted to you? Definitely not. You see six packs, heavy amounts of sweat, competition videos, and weights on bars that look like they would crush your car.
The reason this is conflicting to me is because this isn’t what I see on a day in and day out basis in the gym. I see people just like you and me working hard and improving their health and it leading to increased levels of fitness. I see people who come in with “sickness” markers who work really hard to increase their overall health and improve their quality of life. Somewhere along the way though people forget about health and want to jump right to fitness and this inevitably leads to wanting to be the “fittest.” Sometimes being the fittest means the fittest in your class, or your gym, or your city, or maybe even the world but the simple point I want to make is that fitness doesn't matter at all if you skip your health. Don’t worry about being the fittest. Instead focus on getting fitter every day by increasing your overall health.
Here are 4 ways to improve your health in ways that can simultaneously increase your fitness
- Nutrition. This matters more than you will ever know until you make it part of your health strategy. I have worked with men and women who have worked incredibly hard for more than a year just to realize that if they had implemented a better nutrition strategy they would’ve doubled or tripled their already amazing results. I know this because since starting our nutrition program at South Landing (LINK!) we have seen our clients attain unbelievable results from making important changes to their nutrition that allowed them to “speed up” the results process.
- Mobility/Stretching. Your body can only do what your body can do. Simply adding 5-10 minutes a day of mobility work can decrease tension on joints, improve function in the joints, and increase longevity of your ability to move well. That sounds a lot like “health” to me.
- Consistent Exercise. Consistency is tough. Things happen and there are seasons of life. When my wife and I became parents 2 years ago we were immediately in a completely different season than we had ever been in. Exercise needed to slow down as we were working to raise our sweet son and since that was our main focus we simply weren’t going to workout 6-7 times a week anymore. 3 days a week of exercise ended up being the perfect amount for us. Everyone is different but define what “consistent” is to you and stay consistent with it and you will be amazed by what happens to your health.
- Find a coach that can help you with all of these things. Don’t put the weight of your health solely on your shoulders but instead find a coach who is not only educated by passionate about helping you and taking you where you want to go. A coach does the work that you may not know how to do and allows you to simply focus on your goals. I think of it like buying a car. You didn’t go buy each individual piece and take it to your garage and piece it together and build your own luxury car did you? Of course not. You went online or to a dealership and found the best fit for you and went from there. A coach is similar in the way that they put the product together for you and you just have to do the driving.
So tomorrow when you step into the gym forget being the fittest in any capacity. Instead try to be fitter than you were last week/month/year. How? By placing top priority on your health. The bigger the base the higher the peak and health is the absolute base of every physical goal you have.
Crossfit Level 2 Trainer
A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with a good friend about progress and how different that looks for each individual. For some the process of progress may be slow and steady and for others things just seem to click and away they go on their way to reaching their goals. I fall more into the first category and most likely you do too and that’s ok.
When I sat down to reflect on the conversation my friend and I had it hit me that I spend a considerable amount of time thinking “it would be awesome if I could just get back to the same level of fitness I was at a few years ago.” When I am going for a heavy lift or trying to get a certain score on a workout I catch myself going back to where I was and then hoping I reach that old peak again. I think a good amount of us do this. We see where we are and we visualize where we were and then we look ahead hoping it looks exactly like the past. Maybe you weighed a certain amount in college or could perform a certain movement better before having 3 kids and a full time career. Those peaks just seem so appealing now that we look back on them and so we decide that is the standard we want to chase. Below are 3 reasons why that is a poor way to view our past.
- Just because it was good doesn’t mean it was your peak. Seriously think about that for a second. What you weighed in college or what you could lift before that injury doesn’t have to be the limit. By setting that as the gold standard you make yourself your own enemy. Simple things creep into your head like “I’m just not as good as I used to be” or “I just feel like a lesser version of myself.” You never changed! Situations may have and issues may have come your way but you are still you and that is great no matter what. Stop making yourself the enemy and start encouraging yourself to grow to be more than you ever thought you could.
- Don’t miss the gold in the dirt of your problems. Your injury wasn’t good. No one would say it was but the growth that came from it should be. It’s really hard that you gained that weight during pregnancy but your family also grew and so did your support system. It’s your turn to lean into them for help as you grow more and more every day. Let them know you need their support now. The seasons may have changed and the problems may be many but there is gold in every single sunset and there is new opportunity in every single sunrise. Look for it and you will find that growth isn’t as far as you may think.
- Sometimes losing what you have allows you to truly appreciate it and fully enjoy it as you work to get it back. One of my good friends carried weight overhead during a workout last week for the first time in months and she was absolutely thrilled with it. Why? Because around a year ago she had shoulder surgery that kept her limited for quite a while. After the workout she said “you never realize how amazing it is just to carry something overhead until you can’t do it anymore and it’s just really humbling when it comes back.” I was floored by this. I take so many things for granted when I should take all things with absolute gratitude. Losing something may give you the gratitude it takes to get it back and do even better the second time around.
No matter where you are or what you may have to overcome remember to always move forward. Steady progress will take you farther than you could’ve ever dreamt possible so keep pushing and keep working every day until you reach your goal.
Crossfit Level 2 Trainer
If I had to pick the one thing that people say the most on day one of starting Crossfit it would be “I am really out of shape/weak right now.” In that moment I am extremely aware of how much a person has to put aside to just enter a gym. I know that when they are saying that for the first time to me that they have more than likely been thinking that for years and so I understand how much courage they must have gathered just to commit to making a change in their health. There is no way I can express in words how much joy I feel for that person in that moment because I know what comes next.
Results based off of effort.
Starting anything new is hard. I remember when my wife took me to Trader Joe’s for the first time and that was hard just because it wasn’t Kroger. I had built up an idea in my head that everyone would be better than me in every way. In some weird way I had convinced myself that it would be too different from Kroger and that I wouldn’t be able to figure it out. Let me just say something about that...TRADER JOE’S IS A GROCERY STORE!!!! I was freaked out by a grocery store! Why? Because I automatically assumed something unfair of both myself and the environment I was going in to. I assumed I didn’t belong.
Not starting Crossfit because you assume you have to be strong or fit is similar to not going to the grocery store (my favorite option for that is Trader Joe’s now thanks to my sweet wife) because you haven’t prepared the meal yet. I don’t want to overstep my bounds here but I would think that the kind people at the grocery store wouldn’t be expecting you to have the meal prepared before you purchased the ingredients. After all isn’t the grocery store the link between the recipe and the result?
A few months ago I got a chance to work with a sweet woman named Holly Eversgerd. Holly said exactly what everyone else says when they start. “I’m slow and weak.” We started our session practicing pressing overhead with a PVC pipe and then later in the session we pressed a 15 lb barbell which was great! A few weeks ago Holly pressed 55 lbs and it was AMAZING! Quick math would show you that Holly has grown exponentially in her strength in barely any time at all. I don’t hear Holly say that she is slow and weak anymore just like I don’t hear it from anyone else that said it in the beginning. I’m incredibly proud of people like Holly that are willing to work toward a viewpoint of themselves that says “I'm strong and I am worth it.”
I know new can be hard but I also know that new can look like you realizing your potential and realizing that that potential isn’t singularly measured in results but is also measured in your hard work and your effort. Give the effort and watch the change occur faster than you can even imagine. Do something new for yourself. You deserve it.
Crossfit Level 2 Trainer
We love health. And we daily love being a part of a group of individuals who are seeking a healthy lifestyle. Why do we love this? Because we love to help people live LIFE fully. This doesn't mean just inside the four walls of the gym, but rather life outside of the gym. That could be running with grandkids, playing sports, hiking, etc. Regardless of what life looks like outside of the gym, we love to see them tackle goals and go after dreams that they've always wanted to do.
This week we highlight Rachel Watson who has been a member even before South Landing had a building but rather met at a park. "Watson," as she is commonly known at here at SLCF, always has a positive attitude and recently has tackled some huge dreams. We wanted to hear more about her recent adventures, so here's an inside glimpse.
Tell us about some of the achievements you've accomplished the past few months?
During September and October, I pushed myself and tried new things to a degree which I’ve never done before. On September 8th, I ran my first half marathon, on September 30th, I swam my first 5k open water swim race, and the second week of October I set out on a trip to Peru that I had been dreaming of for decades, and hiked the farthest I’ve ever hiked in the process.
So, you swam a 5k! What made you decide to do that?
Last year one of my best friends got me into open water swimming, and I ended up swimming my first 1 mile open water race. Our open water swim club hosted a race with 5k and 10k options at the end of last year’s season, and through volunteering for it and watching everyone enjoy that race, I became curious as to whether I might be able to swim it. After swimming indoors throughout the winter (and some encouragement from my fellow KOWS members), I set swimming the 5k race as a goal for the end of the 2018 summer open water season.
How did you train for your 5k?
Each Thursday from May to September (weather permitting), I swam roughly a mile or so in the Tennessee River with the Knoxville Open Water Swimmers (KOWS). In July and August, a small group of us would also meet once a week at sunrise to get in two miles at a time on the race course before work.
During much of this same period of time, I was training for the half marathon, so I was trying to do a lot of running and cardio work (which is not my natural propensity) in order to be able to increase my lung capacity. Although I attended fewer classes during the summer at SLCF, I tried to get a few appearances in to maintain baseline fitness, but more importantly, to see my friends there (see Why I do CrossFit, below). I even planned the timing of some of my longer run routes around when I thought people would be at the gym, because I knew that I could use some encouragement in addition to a quick drink from the water fountain. It was important to me to not only physically prepare, but also to mentally prepare for the upcoming long races, by reinforcing that I could do these things, and other people thought I could too.
AND you also went to Peru. What all did you do there?
I grew up learning about the Incan civilization through the Spanish Immersion program at my school and had spent most of my educational career enamored with Latin America (fun fact: my undergraduate degree is actually in International and Global Studies with a concentration in the Hispanic World). Despite having been to Peru four times before, I had never made it far enough south to go to visit Machu Picchu. It had been a place I’d wanted to see for probably over two decades and kept putting off until I reached an arbitrary milestone (after I got settled into my first job, once I turned 30, etc.) until a group of my friends told me just to go. So I bought a ticket.
I chose to hike into Machu Picchu with a tour company via the Salkantay Trek, which is a 48 mile route over 4 days that starts at a glaciated mountain, peaks at 15,000 feet, and ends in Aguas Calientes at 6,700 feet at the base of Machu Picchu.
The trek itself was incredibly challenging for multiple reasons: the altitude, the elevation change, the rocky path, and the sheer distance of it, but I loved being outside and seeing some breathtaking mountains and waterfalls on the way leading to Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu itself was incredible, with the mists and clouds that envelop the mountain that is simultaneously green and rocky adding to the surreal nature of the place.
Why do you do CrossFit and how has it helped you accomplish your goals outside of the gym?
I do CrossFit because it provides me the foundation of functional fitness on which I can build and adapt to accomplish other goals, and also provides me a community that supports me in those endeavors. To oversimplify, I have traditionally thought of myself as a “strength” but not a “cardio” person. While CrossFit has allowed me to live into my love of lifting heavy things (because I still love my back squats), it also has increased my capacity for cardio, which has given me confidence to pursue other sports like swimming and running.
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that our SLCF community also helps me accomplish my goals outside of the gym. The encouragement I’ve received since belonging to South Landing from coaches and fellow members has made an incredible difference in how I approach goals and the belief that I can achieve them. While I believe I can do things that are challenging or scary or hard, it’s really nice to have the encouragement from this gym community as a reminder that I can.
So, what's your next big goal?
My next big goal is to re-establish a solid baseline fitness foundation so I can feel confident in undertaking the next big adventure (which is still to be determined). This may sound like the opposite of a big goal, but to me, re-setting both physically and mentally is really important and takes a lot of intentionality. Focusing on staying healthy and taking care of my body in the short term will equip me to say yes to bigger things and limit the true “why not” reasons so I can say “yes” to more adventures.
At South Landing, we really admire how you take your fitness outside of the gym. What is your encouragement for individuals who might not know where to start?
Allow yourself to be talked into (good and challenging) things, and learn to listen to your body along the way. Sometimes I think we have selective amnesia as to our own capabilities, so having people walk alongside you in setting goals or working toward a particular event really helps change your thinking as to what you can and can’t do, and pushes you to take the leap to sign up for something you’ve never done before. It’s important through that process though to listen to your body and realize what’s feasible in the moment. In doing so we decipher the difference in “can’t” and “not right now,” but also begin to realize that what we can do many times exceeds our initial expectations.
I recently heard “doing changes your thinking” and after the past few months, I wholeheartedly believe that to be true. If you had told me a year ago that I would take on two big races and travel by myself to hike to a place on my bucket list all in the span of a little over a month, I would have said you were crazy. My disbelief wouldn’t come from doubt that I might accomplish these things, but because all of these things still lived in the hypothetical “one day” where we sometimes relegate dreams to exist. I believe I have previously limited myself by only thinking of things (and sometimes overthinking things), instead of doing them. Doing things I’ve previously only thought about has inspired me to be bold and do more, and I hope in some way I can inspire other people to actually do the things they’ve been only thinking of as well.
Thanks for being such an inspiration Watson! We're excited to see what's next!Read More