Mequon CrossFit Mortalis

Road to Rio: The Kip

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Article & Video by Danni Krumins

One of the gymnastics events that men and women compete in at the Olympics is the bars. You will see the women on the uneven bars and the men on the high bar and parallel bars. These multiple apparatus and the skills that are performed on them require knowledge of how to control your body in the swing and use it properly to create momentum in order to connect skills together.

A skill that is performed in gymnastics, the kip, is often seen at the start of a routine – used to get on top of the bar and to connect to other skills. We use a different kind of kip in CrossFit when we are doing pull-ups, toes to bar, or even handstand push-ups. This type of kip creates momentum in the skill to connect them together faster.

The video below will demonstrate the body positions and progressions of a beat swing and how to turn that into a kipping pull-up. Before adding kipping to your pull-ups, it is suggested that you be able to perform strict pull-ups first.

To start, you should be familiar with the hollow and arched positions:

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The hollow (left) will be the back of your beat swing when you are behind the bar and where you will perform the pull-up.

The arch (right) is the front of your beat swing when you are in front of the bar.

Static holds in these positions can be added to your mobility sessions or as accessory work at the end of your workout. Perform them either hanging from the bar as shown or on the floor. As you will see in the video, these body positions are very important to our kip!

Training tip: Work up to holding each position for 30 seconds without breaking.

**Turn your sound on for helpful video commentary!**

Some key points to remember from the video:

  1. Initiate the swing from your chest and shoulders, not your legs
  2. Use your hips for power
  3. The pull-up is performed at the back of the swing when the athlete is behind the bar, and the ‘moment of weightlessness’ is felt
  4. Push yourself away from the bar and into the front part (arch) of the beat swing instead of dropping straight down
  5. You can use the kip for regular pull-ups, toes to bar, or chest to bar pull-ups

Training Tip: Grab the bar with your thumb wrapped underneath the bar, like the hook grip used in Olympic weightlifting

Start practicing your beat swings and kipping pull-ups! Once you are proficient in kipping, you will be able to string more and more pull-ups and toes to bar together in your workouts!

Road to Rio: The Bridge

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Written by Danni Krumins

Two weeks ago in my article Road to Rio: The Splits I focused on the stretching and mobility of the splits. This week I am going to focus on another great mobility exercise: the Bridge!

This is also a basic gymnastics skill that serves as a starting progression for all the back handsprings and walkovers that you will see the gymnasts compete.

Developing the flexibility and range of motion (ROM) to perform a proper bridge may seem strange and uncomfortable at first if you aren’t used to it, but with consistent practice you will have the bridge of a gymnast in no time. The shoulder mobility and back strength you will achieve will also be extremely beneficial for the work we do in CrossFit.

Before practicing your bridge and doing the scaled exercises that are shown below be sure to complete a thorough warm-up, and remember: some discomfort is okay, but not pain.

The Bridge:

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Proper set up before pushing up into your bridge is extremely important. As you can see in the top picture, your knees should be bent with feet flat on the floor. Your hands are placed on the floor above and slightly outside your shoulders with your fingertips facing toward you. You might notice that this is similar to the front rack position. Working to achieve this position without any discomfort will help with any lack of mobility you might have with lifts that are in the front rack position.

As you push up into the bridge shown in the bottom picture you want to keep your butt and belly tight, and avoid any hyper-extension in the back that could cause pain or unwanted stress. The head is in a neutral position and elbows are locked.

Below are some regressions you can practice to help you work toward a full, unassisted bridge:

Bridge Ups:

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This a progression of the bridge that will you to get into the proper shoulder and back position. Sitting on box in front of the wall, lean back keeping your feet flat on the floor. You should set your arms up in the same front rack position as if you were doing a bridge on the floor. Keep your butt and belly tight lift your hips up off the box then push away from the wall. You can adjust your feet and hands as needed.

Feet Elevated:

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Elevating your feet onto a box will help to make the bridge slightly easier and eliminate hyperextension in the back. Practice just lifting your hips off the ground first, focusing on keeping your butt and belly tight. Once you are ready, push your shoulders off the ground.

If you are having trouble getting up you can have a spotter assist you:

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The spotter should place both hands behind your shoulders and help you to push up.

If you have pain with that much wrist extension you can try this scaled version with a spotter:

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The spotter should stand close enough so that instead of placing your hands flat on the floor, you grab onto your spotter’s ankles. They can place both hands on the back of your shoulders and help you to push up. This can also be done with your feet on the floor.

Adding the bridge to your stretching and mobility can benefit your body in more ways than just an increased ROM. It is an important body weight exercise that will strengthen almost every muscle in your body, especially your back.

Once you have a strong bridge there are always ways that you can challenge yourself. Try some bridge walks, or start learning to go backwards into a bridge by walking your hands down and back up a wall.

Start practicing your bridges and check back for my final article next week!