The CrossFit crash course continues.


5 kipping pull-ups, 10 pushups to lockout, 15 squats // as many rounds as possible in 20 mins / to maximize work, stay in one spot under the pull-up bar

My result: 10 rounds + 2 pullups before time expired.  When I asked Coach Max how my performance was, he replied matter-of-factly: “Not bad, I guess, for a beginner.”

This workout was very challenging.  Physically, it taxed my wind and muscles.  My hands were calloused and bleeding from the punishment of the pull-up bar.  Mentally, I had to work on turning down the noise in my mind and letting my body go on auto-pilot.  From a cognitive stand point, the literal thought of another pull-up or another squat at certain points during the workout created a tremendous road block.  The only way to keep going was to turn the volume down and just go!

It was also challenging from a technical perspective, as there were new things to keep in mind and Coach Max is cleaning up what I’m coming to realize is sloppy technical performance of very basic movements.

A great example is the kipping pull-up, which CrossFit uses in its workouts.  Hanging still from the bar, you hip forward, hip back, and then explode upwards, aiming to have your chest touch the bar.  At first glance, the motion looks like cheating.  But, the larger objective is to teach a motion that will translate over to gymnastic rings, specifically, the muscle up.    And I guarantee you – it does NOT feel like you’re cutting corners.

The pushups were standard pushups, but with a strong emphasis on perfect form, getting your chest all the way to the floor and locking out at the top before it would count as a rep.

The air squat also needed tweaking.  With feet slightly wider than hip width and knees out (not collapsing inward), you crease at the waist, butt down all the way so that your thighs break the parallel plane, and then push back up all the way, keeping everything smooth and continuous.  A key point here is to keep your chest up and out for the entire motion and keeping your head level.  This extra focus results in better posture, but also requires a bit more energy and attention.

The video below has some good footage of the kipping pullup, as well as of modifications made for users at different ability levels.

Try it, and leave your results in the comments below.


The No-Gi Worlds, broadcast by, was a great event!  Caleb and Shawn are improving as a commentating duo each time out, with Shawn keeping viewers engaged on the technical aspects of matches and Caleb providing data points and color commentary.

Some thoughts:

  • I love that they won’t let competitors just sit to guard outright.  It is incumbent on all of us a jiujitsukas to work on our throws and takedowns.
  • Kevin Howell is working on a new book with none other than Terere!  Woah!
  • It was fascinating to hear Shawn talk about cycles in BJJ.  Deep half guard was the “Vitor Shailon Guard” back in the day.  X-guard was being used frequently by Fredson Alves back in ’98.
  • The female competitors were absolutely amazing to watch.  Incredibly technical, aggressive, and submission-oriented.
  • Emily Kwok, who I got the pleasure to interview for The Fightworks Podcast, won gold in her division.  Very inspiring to see her hard work pay off.