By: FRCF Coach John San Filippo

We’re under way in our test week! As you’ve noticed, we’re in full swing with lots of gymnastics movements. Over the next 9 weeks, I want you to focus on one thing: virtuosity. Gymnastics is a pursuit of (sometimes painfully) slow progress. It’s the small details that will add up to major progress. With that in mind, here are some points of focus for the movements we’ll be focusing on.


Handstand work:

  1. Make sure that your index fingers point to 11 and 1 as you work into handstands. This will keep your shoulders externally rotated, and allow you to access all of the power of your shoulder girdle.
  2. For handstand holds, keep your hands directly under your shoulders. For handstand pushups, your hands should be slightly outside of your shoulders. Wide handstand pushups are easier to cycle when you kip, but strict handstand pushups are much harder with your hands wide. Think about trying to strict press from a snatch grip–you’ll be able to press much less than from a wide grip than from a standard grip. If you’ve always done wide handstands, it will feel harder from the beginning–but that’s just your brain learning a new movement pattern!
  3. Reach your head slightly in front of your hands to form a tripod position in negative or handstand pushup work. This will help you keep your balance, and allow you to keep your hands in the proper narrow position. An important aspect of this is continuing to look back through your hands, instead of arching your neck (and therefore your upper back.)

Ring work

  1. We will be doing ring work in external rotation at the top of our dips. This is partly for shoulder health: external rotation builds strength in ranges of motion that we don’t use in everyday life, and prevents impingement at the front of your shoulder. It also builds strength in a hand position that mimics how many people catch in the transition of a muscle up. If you catch with your thumbs forward in the bottom of a dip, you are more externally rotated than the standard knuckles forward ring support hold. If you have no strength here, it will be nigh impossible to dip out.
  2. Physics demands that the rings reach straight towards the ground. The shakiness you feel in a ring support (or in a dip) is your brain adding instability as it tries to move. You can reduce this by pressing into the top of a dip, instead of jumping into it.
  3. Squeezing the rings tightly, and “pulling” ourselves into a dip or pushup will create more stability in our shoulders. Grip activates shoulder stabilization!

Pulling work

  1. All pulling work is initiated with our scaps. We tend to want to pull with our biceps first, but our backs are much stronger than our biceps. If you see your elbows bend at the beginning of your pullup, come back to the beginning, and pull your shoulders away from your ears with straight arms to initiate the pull.
  2. The top of a pull is infinitely harder than the rest of the pull. The two inches between a chin over pullup and a chest to bar takes more dedicated work than the preceding 18 inches. When we have holds and negatives, make sure you’re working on control in that range of motion. This will lead to strict chest to bar and muscle ups, and better kipping versions as well!


Finally, a general note. You will be very sore for the first few weeks of our new cycle. Remember your first few weeks of CrossFit? You were using more muscles than you ever had. This cycle is about exposing weaknesses and strengthening them. Enjoy the chase for progress. Ask lots of questions. Check your ego at the door. Have so much fun learning all sorts of wonderful new tricks.