I hear this sometimes from our athletes and it makes me feel bad every time.  I feel bad because as a coach, I naturally feel responsible when they’re not reaching their goals. If I have guest who has been with me for nearly a year and they STILL cannot do a kipping pull up, I know that I have not been paying enough attention to them and that I’ve been spending too much time on programming for the greater good.   Perhaps I may appear too busy for them to approach me.  Perhaps they feel as if it’s something they need to figure out on their own.  I’m sorry to all that this may have happened to, I’m never too busy to make time for you.  After all, you each are the reason that CFH and PPT are still in business.

So, how do you perform  a pull up?  What if you haven’t done a pull up since elementary school?  What if you’re still waiting on your first pull up as an adult? ( I didn’t get my first pull up or rope climb until I was a senior in high school. Kind of an “unathletic”, chunky-monkey when I was a young lad.)  Don’t worry, there is always hope.


Number 1.  “SET THE INTENTION.”  Call it a GOAL, INTENTION, VISION, BELIEF, whatever it may be, the first step must always start with an intention.  This is the most fundamental part of any journey because it’s always the first step.  Now, you’ve probably heard lots of people tell you to set a goal, but have you ever sat down and set your intention(s)?  This may be different for everyone, but for me, setting an intention is a personal experience.  I can’t simply be sitting in my living room watching the season finale of The Snatchlor and rightly set an intention about how I’m going to significantly change my life.  No.  For me, I need peace and solitude.   Then again, I don’t fall into Maslow’s self-actualized category either.  If I did then I could set an intention in the middle of an Aerosmith concert.  Do whatever it takes for you to set YOUR intention and be as specific as possible too.  Such as, “I’m going to get my ass above that bar if it kills me, by Christmas this year.”  The more specific, the better

Number 2.  “Write it down.”

Post it in a place where you can see it on a daily basis.  Maybe this is a place where others can see it.  Maybe it’s in a place where only you can see it each and everyday and it stays close to your heart.  No matter.  WRITE IT DOWN!  PUT IT ON YOUR VISION BOARD!  If achieving a pull up is more than just achieving a pull up, write it down and do your best to look at that note everyday.  Sear this note into your mental role-o-dex and it will literally strengthen your brain and mind (two very different things) over time.

Number 3.  “Believe.”  

You’ve taken two steps so far.  The third is much harder.  BELIEVE!  Just like at the end of The Polar Express: “BELIEVE.”  For me, this is probably the hardest step.  True, I do have a resilient spirit which causes me to fight till the death, but I do have doubts sometimes – because I’m human.  Believing and accepting that you will accomplish your intentions and goals is just as important as eating, sleeping and paying taxes.  How many times have you thought to yourself:  “This is just stupid-ridiculous.  Why am I wasting my time?  I’m never going to do this. Who am I kidding?  Screw it.  Time for an 8 piece meal at KFC.”  If you haven’t had thoughts like these race through your mind, you’re a stronger person than I am.  Let me give you another, personal example:  I AM NOT VERY GOOD AT SNATCHES.  I know I’m strong, balanced, coordinated, etc, so I ought to be able to get at least 90 kilos up.  But I get scared, then I fail – because I don’t believe enough in myself.  If you help me believe in myself, I’ll help you believe in yourself.

Number 4: Surround yourself with like-minded people and positive energy (Birds of a feather…)

The main reason I love the being at the studio so much is because of all of the GREAT energy from all of the GREAT people.  It’s undeniable, objective, empirical and real.  Have you ever left the studio feeling worse than when you walked in?  Wait…don’t answer that.  How many times have you left feeling better than when you first walked in? Probably quite a bit, especially if you’ve just ended a busy day at work.  I love the people in our studio because we are all like minded: We all want to achieve our best, we all encourage one another to do our best, and we all leave feeling our best.  Can you imagine if ConGress (the opposite of ProGress) CrossFitted?  What a happy, productive and FIT country we’d live in!

Number 5: Eliminate your energy vampires (EVs).    

This guy is the wussy, Slim Fast, Diet Cola, Hyundai of vampires.

You know your own energy vampires better than anyone else.  Maybe your energy vampires are people.  Maybe they are things.  Maybe they are chores that you can’t stand.  Eat your frogs and purge your energy suckers ASAFP!  EVs will slowly eat away at you and at your kipping pull ups.  My best recommendation is quite simple: If it’s a person – bow out gracefully, give them your blessings, then get over it.  If it’s a thing – deal with is ASAFP. For me, a dirty and unorganized truck is an energy vampire.  My truck is my sacred space where I can be alone, and if it’sa mess, it jacks up my Chi, aura and 7th Chakra.  Eliminate your EVs’ and you’ll feel like the worlds been lifted off your shoulders.

Now, if you want to know what other steps you can take to nail your kipping pull up, come to our free pull up workshop this Saturday at 10:30 AM.  It’s open to members and non-members.  We’ll answer your questions, share our expertise and may even pop some bottles.  It’s 4 o’clock somewhere (give me a break, I wake up at 4:30 so I have to get started a little earlier than most).  I’ll also post my strength-guide to the pull up in my next blog post.

#6 Work on STRENGTH

CrossFit is good for developing strength. It’s not great for developing strength.  The greatest strength gains are made with MULTIPLE SETS with 1-5 reps. Again, the GREATEST strength gains are 1-5.  You still have strength gains with higher reps than 5, however they will not be GREAT, only good.  To make this very easy, I’m going to refer you to the Armstrong/Recon Program.  This is not necessarily the fastest way to a pull up, but it is a slow, efficient way to develop strength for multiple pull ups (not kipping) and will have a DRAMATIC, COMPOUNDING EFFECT on your pull up.

Recon Ron Pull up Program

“At the top you’ll notice it says WEEK 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. During each week you will perform 5 sets of the number of reps listed in the column, for example in week 1 you will do 6 reps on the first set, 5 on the second set, etc. You do this Monday through Saturday and on Sunday you take the day off and do nothing to allow yourself to recover from the previous week. Then you’ll move on to week 2, however in MY personal experience I found that it moved a little too quickly, so I spent 2 weeks on week 1 before moving to week 2 where I spent another 2 weeks before moving on to week 3. If you’re stuck on a certain week and you’ve been stuck there for more than 2 weeks without being able to improve to what’s required on the next step, then take 5 days off and don’t do a single pull up.”

lf you’re unable to perform a pull up right now, I want you to use a band in this program, or multiple bands, to get your chin over the bar.  Note, you should alway FULLY straighten your arms at the bottom of the pull up in order to maximize strength through the ENTIRE range of motion of the movement.


Once you get your PR, be sure to write it on the wall and post to this page, please.  Best of luck everyone.

Chuck MaFocused Gonzales

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