How to get rid of the band with pull ups

Recently I heard a long-time member voice their frustrations with still using a band for pull ups and not making the progress that they wanted to see on their non-assisted pull ups.  I asked that member what they have been doing outside of workouts with pull ups in them to make their pulling strength better, and they responded with "nothing".  

This made me think two things. First, in the land of CrossFit, there are so many things that one has to be good at which is why it is such a great test of fitness.  "You have to be good at everything" is something you often hear when it comes to the CrossFit Games Athletes, but those of us that are not at that level have certain movements that we struggle with.  If it is a goal to accomplish certain movements, outside work needs to be done to make those goals a reality.  I remember when I wanted to do a ring muscle up and was instantly upset at the fact of not being able to do it with out practicing any progressions and just sort of expected it to happen.  I quickly got slapped in the face with reality, and needed to head back to the drawing board.  I looked up as many progression videos as I could and finally found some that worked for me to be better at the skills I needed to complete a muscle up. By no means am I an expert at them, but I found a way to make myself better with extra time and effort put into the progressions.

The second thing I thought of was what could I do as a coach to help people with the same goal... to get rid of that band!? With anything, if there is a goal, you have ask yourself if you are willing to put in the time and effort to reach that goal. If you are not, then how bad do you really want that goal?  It's easy to see these exercises, try them out one or two times a week and then forget about them until you come back to those banded pull ups.  Make time 2-3 times a week during open gyms, before the workout, after the workout or whenever you have time to do these to reach your goal.

There are around 17 muscles that attach to the scapula, all of which are important to develop so that you can work on your pulling strength.  Part of making your pulling strength better is simple, work on it more! One of the things you can do to help your back and shoulder strength is to use the Crossover Symmetry system that we have at the gym.  There are two sides to the hanging sign of exercises, the side that says "Iron Scap" is the one that I will start off suggesting you try out and do 2-3 times a week.  There are 7 exercises that take about 5 minutes, with different band color levels and a photo description of each exercises.  This helps with the group of scapular muscles.  

The next progression to engaging the scapular muscles are what I will call "scap pull ups".  This is a drill to help engage and initiate pull ups with the lats and stabilize shoulders. In this movement you do not want a bend in the arms, and you also want to maintain the hollow body position as much as you can. Watch the video of Emmet doing these.

The Negative pull ups are also a great way to work on back strength.  Notice my note about when you are not able to slowly lower yourself, that you should try to use a partner to help you maintain the slow decent. This exercise focuses on the eccentric portion, starting in the flex hang and moving to the dead hang position. 


The partner pull up is a great progression from the negative pull up.  Instead of using a band that gives you a little bit of a bounce into the first pulling stage (scap pull up portion), this exercise makes you engage your scapular muscles on your own to initiate your pull up and your partner is there to give assistance as needed.

A great auxiliary type of exercise to increase pulling strength is the bent over row.  Yes this seems like a "bro lift" and not very "CrossFit", but sometimes singling out muscle groups is what you need to build strength in areas that you are lacking. Note that this should be done with a weight that you can do the movement strict.  Many times I see people adding way to much weight and using their back and a sort of kipping motion to complete the lift.
This should be as strict as possible, if that
means less weight, then do less weight!

The last exercise I will talk about is the ring row.  So many times I hear people say "ring rows are too easy" and they are not keeping their core tight, not keeping in the hollow position and snaking/kipping up to the rings, which leads me to believe it's not really as easy as you claim.  I recently saw a video of Tia Clair Toomey (yes the two-time 2nd fittest woman in the world and Olympian) doing these in the video below, which further leads me to believe that they are not "too easy".  Check out the different variations that Emmet demonstrates in the video below.  I could argue that these may be harder than a pull up it self.  Again, the key is to keep the hollow position, a flat plank for your body and initiate the pulling with the "scap" pull up motion.

Thanks to Emmet, Danielle and Wyatt for the great modeling! 

The 2017 Open comes to end with... more thursters!

This year we had 65 people from CFB sign up for The Open, which is the most that CFB has ever had.  My favorite thing about the Open is that it makes people go outside of their comfort zone and try things they never have in a workout.  Yes, sometimes this leads to failed reps, but it also leads to PR's and firsts.  We had people get their first bar muscle up, pull up, jumping chest to bar pull up, double under and more.  We also had several people PR their snatch in a workout, and many PR'ed their 16.4 score on this years 17.4!  Being able to share the energy in the gym and excitement for everyone is why I enjoy the Open so much.

Blake crushing some chest to bar pull ups

Blake crushing some chest to bar pull ups

JoAnne getting after 17.3

JoAnne getting after 17.3

Friday morning through Friday night we had support from members, families, friends and many more came to check out the hard work members have been putting in.

The first and second workout gave us a chance to use those dumbbells we have been trying to collect for the past few months!  Some new and fun movements came our way, but everyone did them with zero complaints and went into each workout with a purpose. The last walking lunges in 17.1 never felt so great!  17.2 we saw the comeback of the bar muscle up from last years Open.  We had more people look comfortable with this movement and of course the ever-so-awesome first bar muscle up came for some members.

Steve doing some awesome bar muscle ups in 17.2

Steve doing some awesome bar muscle ups in 17.2

17.3 we saw chest to bar pull ups and squat snatches, which proved to be a hard combo, but also allowed several people to try some new weights on the snatch and even get a PR!

Our repeat workout this year was 17.4, or 16.4, as those doing the open again noticed...55 reps of all the movements! We had several PR's on this workout and even some first handstand pushups!


Some notable end scores include in the state of Wisconsin: (If I forgot any please let me know!)
-14-15 year old category Riya Karne 13th
-35-39 Mellisa Debuck 29th
-45-49 Bobbi Lengjak 16th
-55-59 Nancy Thiedig 12th
-60+ Peg Thiele 5th
-35-39 category Scott Thiele 9th
-40-44 category Steve Smith 41st
-45-49 category Wyatt Warthen 2nd
-55-59 Masters category Coach Mike Morley 6th and Tim Thiedig 14th
-60+ category for the state of Wisconsin Coach Matt Forshee 6th, Bruce Houghtby 9th, and Ed May 18th

Neel during 17.5

Neel during 17.5

Overall it was a success from the Open announcement parties (a huge thank you to all that brought in food, treats and all the bacon!!). The 2017 Open was a success due to positive attitudes and willingness to take a big step out of comfort zones.  Congrats to everyone that competed and here's to 65+ sign ups next year!  Each of you continue to make yourselves better everyday when you walk into CFB doors and leave your hard work and sweat behind!  We are proud of each and every one of your thrusters, jump ropes, box jumps and even those dumbbell snatches and lunges!


Chris rocking his first Open!

Chris rocking his first Open!


If the competition bug has bit you, there is a local Festivus Games competition that is happening April 22nd at CrossFit 608. Check out https://festivusgames.com/divisions/ for more details and talk with a coach at the gym if you are interested!  There are always local competitions coming up, so if you are have interest, please talk with a coach!


17.5 live from Madison!

17.5 live from Madison!




Workouts Outside of the Gym

Hi everyone, it's Coach Alison here wishing everyone a happy 2017!  As 2016 comes to a close, we know that people will be setting and smashing goals for the new year.  At CFB we want you to always create goals for yourself and you certainly don't need the new year to make those happen!  Some people have shown interest in hotel or home workouts, so this post is about how to create workouts when you can't get to the gym.

One of the easiest pieces of equipment to buy for home is a set of dumbbells.  Walmart sells them for a great price (many of the online stores get you with shipping costs), and the plain metal dumbbells are all you need, and sometimes even Craigslist has a deal or two if you want to search them out.  If you are on a budget, I would suggest starting out with one set of a weight for what works with you for a majority of the movements in the videos below.  If you are not sure, we have some at the gym you can test out before making a purchase. If you are at hotel for business or a vacation, many of the hotel gyms are equipped with dumbbells.  I always bring my jump rope when I am away because something easy to pack and who doesn't love working on their double unders?!

PushPress Timer Free is a great way to keep track of time during your

PushPress Timer Free is a great way to keep track of time during your

The second thing you need is a great timer! In this day and age, almost everyone has a smart phone or tablet of some sort.  The best timer that I have found is called "PushPress Timer Free" in the App Store (I have an iPhone). There is a paid version that allow a few more things and no ads, but the free version is awesome and well... free! This timer is just like the one at the gym and you can program, AMRAP countdowns, work to rest timers, a simple count up timer, and my favorite part, you can set a countdown before you start (which many timers do not have).

If you have questions on how to set up a timer that is right for your workout come talk to me at the gym or send a message my way!

A lot of "hotel WODs" that are on the internet are for bodyweight movements and running, so using some of these moves in the videos below, may help you get some ideas for something other than 100 air squats for time!

These videos have 20 different dumbbell exercises for you to try out, and there are certainly more that you can do, but we'll start here.  If you are not sure how to put together a workout, talk with me and I can come up with some for you depending on what equipment you have available.  

Click here for Movements with One Dumbbell

Click here for Movements with Two Dumbbells

Click here for other Movements with Two Dumbbells

Another source that I have used for ideas is a list that Jason Khalipa (CrossFit NorCal owner and CrossFit Games athlete) put together here: http://norcal.vm-host.net/hotel-wods. You can also ask a coach for some workout ideas if you are going to be gone! Several of you have been away and I have asked for a photo of the fitness center in your hotel, which allows us to create some great workouts so you don't miss a beat!

If you are looking to go to a CrossFit gym while away, you can check out the CrossFit Affiliate Map to see if there is a gym near you that you can drop in.  Most gyms appreciate an email to let them know you are coming, and range from $20-30 a visit which usually includes a t-shirt from the gym! A few members have "dropped in" at gyms.  It's a fun way to see other gyms, meet new people and get in a great workout while away from home.  

Hopefully these ideas can give you some tips to stick with your fitness goals, even if you can't make it to the gym!  If you have any questions, talk with a coach! 

History of the 12 Days of Christmas WOD and Holiday Details

You all know what time of year it is! The snow has fallen and the Holiday decorations and shopping have started, which also means it's time again for the annual tradition of the 12 days of Christmas WOD here at CrossFit Beloit.  If you didn't know, this is a tradition that started back in 2011, so this is the 6th time CFB has done this workout, and it's still a blast today! (depending on your definition of blast).

2011 First time and some amazing photos 

We first saw this workout from the mastermind of Scott in 2011, check out some of the photos in the link above for the OG CFB'ers and their first attempt at this workout.


2012 Scott sported a nice purple sweater in this post

As the ugly sweater tradition started while doing the workout.  Soon after the workout, longtime CFB family member, Jeff, made a spreadsheet breakdown of the workout, so check out this link: Breakdown of the workout and see what you have in store!

2013 we did the workout at the Iron Works location and I believe this is where Scott's Elf Sweater saw it's debut.  I'm still thinking that is has not been washed since this date...

2014 Started our White Elephant gift exchange party, which was a big hit!  Members brought some amazing gag gifts and we danced the night away with our ugly sweaters and fun gifts!

2015 brought on multiple heats of  action and some amazing outfits for the workout.  I'd also say that everyone stepped up the white elephant gifts and everyone had an amazing time!

What does 2016 have in store?  Only one way to find out... come do the workout on the 17th (sign up on the white board at the gym), and attend the Holiday party at Game on Bar and Grill (443 E. Grand Ave.) starting at 7:30pm in your best Holiday attire (the uglier the sweater, the better!) and bring along 1 white elephant gift per person.  Check out the event page here

Other Notables:
The gym will be closed December 24th (Saturday), and open for usual hours for the rest of the Holiday schedule.  As always, check Front Desk for most recent class times and talk with a coach for any questions!!