Ring Row Skill Transfer
Last week we had our first scheduled skill day on Thursday. Skill days consist of a warm-up, lift then learning a progression of skills that lead to one or many advanced movements. Thursday we progressed through a basic set of gymnastic skills to improve the pull-up and eventually lead to a muscle up. In addition to directly correlating to advanced gymnastics, the progression of skills we learned will help generally to enforce the neuromuscular patterning needed to move core to extremity- basically everything we do.
Many of you have heard us say, “Hips then arms” or “Don’t bend your arms until you hips are open” and many other such variations. Most of you have gotten to the point of self awareness in your lifting and gymnastics that you can tell when you bend your arms too soon. How do you fix it? You fix it with seemingly simple skills and drills.
Here is a big secret: Not everything has to be hard in CrossFit. Sometimes you need to practice perfect, explosive movement with light to medium weight (or just body weight) consistently to change your movement patterns. This is about practice- remember practice has to do with neurological development. You need to practice often and it is simple and repetitive. So lets review how to use what you learned on Thursday to practice hip drive and delayed pull for both your Olympic Lifts and your Muscle Ups.
We started with a movement that most of us associated with not being able to do a pull-up: Ring Rows. Yes, ring rows are used to scale pull-ups, and that is one of the most attractive things about using them for skill transfer- everyone can do them. We started with supine ring rows, did them strict, then with back extension and lastly with kipping.
As with any CrossFit skill there is often a component of strength, and sometimes, athletes do not have the sufficient strength to move forward. Fortunately, the ring row is easy to adjust for strength. Supine is the gold standard with the hands touching the chest at the top of movement and the elbows ripping back, but if that is not possible, moving from absolutely horizontal to slightly more vertical can make the movement accessible. This video makes it clear that you can adjust the ring row for anyone.
Once we got through the strict rows, we went on to extended then kipping ring rows. Basically, the kipping ring row helps to reinforce the hip then arms patterning that we basically use in all things. In addition, it is a great way to feel the weightlessness that will be a necessary part of your transition in the bar and ring muscle up eventually.
The best way to apply the skills is to practice the progression from strict, to extended, to kipping doing anywhere from 10-15 each when you come while waiting for class to start. You are not looking for them to be tiring, but you want to do them for quality. In addition, do not be tempted to skip the strict and the extended diving straight for the kipping. This of it this way- your brain and body needs a little skill foreplay and if you go right to the main event your body and brain are not properly primed to the most out of the skill transfer exercise.
Here is a video of Carl Paoli who devised this wonderful progression just in case you blocked out Thursday’s skill session: