Hot Take: Most CrossFitters Should Avoid Butterfly Pull-ups

Hear me out!

After some travel and recovering from a bad back tweak, I had only done strict pull-ups for about 5 weeks. On Tuesday I was able to add the more CrossFitty pull-up back in, doing 75 in an eight minute workout. The workout was a five rounder with 15 pull-ups per round and I was able to split those up in to three sets of five each time. I did every rep with the gymnastics kip instead of the butterfly kip I’d typically use. It got me thinking about pull-ups in CrossFit.

In the early days of CrossFit (before I started) there were strict pull-ups and the kipping pull-up. Then in 2007 came the butterfly.

It was invented as a way for competitors to do pull-ups faster. I’ll say that again. It was invented as a way for competitors to do pull-ups faster.

Sure, it also allows the general CrossFit population to be able to do some pull-up faster as well. In my experience though, it’s a lot more taxing on our breathing and our grip, compared to the gymnastics kipping pull-up. If a workout calls for high rep pull-us and you’re using the butterfly, before you know it, you’re taking a lot longer rests and doing smaller and smaller sets. Competitors don’t run into this problem anywhere close to the degree that us mortals do. They’re able to keep working on very short rests with much larger sets. The butterfly pull-up speed makes a big difference for them. Over the course of most workouts, I’d bet the butterfly pull-up and associated rest between smaller and smaller sets doesn’t give us normal CrossFitters any speed advantage at all; it’s slowing us down in the long run.

The butterfly pull-up also puts more stress on the shoulder because of the violent change in direction at speed. The risk of injury is higher.

Next time you’re doing a workout with a lot of pull-ups, consider sticking to the original kipping pull-up. I know I will. Leave the butterfly for those short workouts where you can maintain sets with little rest.

What do you think?

300 Pound Bench Press

In 2017 I made a run at a 300 pound bench press and hit 290 before getting bored with it. Earlier this year, on June 8th, I set a goal to bench press 300 pounds before my 40th (on December 26th) and announced it on Instagram.

I fucking did it!

Out of everything I’ve been able to do in my 8+ years of CrossFit, I might be the most proud of this achievement. 🙂

Growing up I wasn’t strong and I didn’t have muscles. Soaking wet, I might have weighed 165 pounds in high school. During and after college, I think I got up to a 205 pound bench press. Getting 300 pounds was never a realistic goal for my size and strength.

I gained weight over the years. When I started CrossFit I tipped the scale at about 190 and had never seen 200+. At the time I had a goal never to be 200 pounds. Silly! During that first year of CrossFit, I leaned out and got down to 173. Then I slowly but steadily got stronger and built muscle. It my heaviest, in 2017, I weighed 217. Right now I’ve been stable at 202-203.

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Why does this matter? Generally the bigger you are, the more weight you can lift. Mass moves mass. It also shows how my relationship with weight and my understanding of what is healthy has evolved. So much for never weighing more than 200 pounds! I think I carry my weight pretty good for a guy turning 40. 😉

If you want to call it bragging, humble bragging, or whatever… go shit on someone else’s lawn because I don’t give a fuck. I’m proud of my hard work. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. I love me some me.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, but if I can do it, so can you. Set a goal, tell people, pick a timeline, make a plan, do work, and have patience.

What do you want to do for yourself? Start today.

20.5

Finished 20.5 with a time of 18:57.

I’ll probably do 20.3 in a couple of weeks since I had to skip it.

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20.4

It was disappointing not being able to make an attempt at 20.3 last week with my back acting up. I’m in the game this week and this was my jam!

Bear KompleX Black Diamond 3 Hole Grips

These grips are money for pull-ups and toes to bars! I’ve used a bunch of different grips over the years and these are the best by far. I didn’t care for them when doing bar muscle-ups though, because they grip so well and I prefer something that can slide around the bar more. I’m really liking the bigger size XL after using larges in a couple of other Bear KompleX styles.

After a few weeks I still haven’t needed to use chalk on these grips.

Saturday Workouts

I’m dealing with a calf strain as well as babying my back after a couple of tweaks, so I’m exercising in the garage more than normal. I don’t usually put workouts on this site, but what I came up with today was fun, so I thought I’d share.

The first workout was a pyramid of single arm dumbbell shoulder presses. Start at 5# and do 5 reps on each arm. Add 5# each set, continuing to do 5 reps per arm. Repeat all the way up to 50#. Do a second set with the 50# dumbbell for each arm and then decrease by 5# each set back down to 5#. It ends up being 20 sets for 100 total reps on each arm.

The second workout I did was:

20-15-10-5

  • Burpees
  • Dumbbell Box Step Overs (24″, 35# DBs)

Give these a try and let me know what you think.

CrossFit Games Wild Card Invite

On Tuesday, CrossFit officially announced the Games invitation they extended to Hunter McIntyre, a professional obstacle course racer. Many CrossFit Games competitors and some people covering the sport from the media side of things really hate the wild card invite. Their biggest argument seems to be that athletes should “earn” their spot through the other qualification methods, which, by the way, have all changed a lot for this season.

First off, what is this wild card invite? For years, the CrossFit Games Rulebook has had a section allowing the company (CrossFit) to invite people of their choosing to compete at the Games without going through the other qualification methods. Here’s the part from the rulebook for the current season (link to PDF).

4.06 – THE GAMES – INVITATION PROCESS FROM AN AT-LARGE BID
CrossFit Inc. reserves the right to invite four individual athletes to compete at the Games. The means by which an athlete can earn one of the
four at-large bids is solely up to CrossFit Inc.’s discretion.

Personally I love the invite. Before I get into why and a key point of the whole thing, let me just point out a few things about Hunter. He’s a great athlete and very fit. Check out this comparison of his 2018 and 2019 Open workouts compared to Brent Fikowski, who has been top four at the Games for the last three years..

Hunter beat Brent in 4/11 scored events over the last two Opens, which is pretty damn good. Overall Hunter placed much higher than a lot of the national championships from the 2019 Open. Some of those national champions have no business stepping up to complete alongside the best of the best. Hunter will actually be competitive in some of the endurance type events, with the potential to grab some wins.

Now on to the real meat of this thing. Games athletes and some media people seem to be missing the whole point of the wild card invite! The invite is for the athlete NOT to earn it through normal qualification methods. I remember an old CrossFit video of Greg Glassman talking about these invites, which I couldn’t find. They were basically created as a way to invite athletes from other sports to compete at the Games and see how they compare to CrossFitters. The idea is to answer the question, “Can an athlete built by another fitness program or sport compete and win the CrossFit Games?” If we forced Hunter McIntyre to earn his invite like the rest of the Games competitors, it doesn’t tell us anything new because at that point we’d consider him a CrossFit Games athlete, when at this point he’s still an obstacle course racer.

I think it’s pretty simple to understand and it’ll create some excitement at the Games. I hope he destroys the field in some of the early workouts. Here are some videos with Hunter if you’d like to learn more.