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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 06-13-2007, 10:19 AM   #1
Emily Mattes
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How would one go about designing an upper-body only CF workout? I found out today I did indeed pull my hamstring and need to lay off any work that will strain it for a few weeks, and then slowly move back into gentle movements. I have read the CF Journal article on "Working Wounded" and am pumped to start focusing on my abysmal upper-body and core strength.

But what do I do? I want to do something more varied than lots of sets of push-ups and assisted pull-ups (I can't even do a pull-up). I have no idea how to design workouts outside of traditional weightlifting (four days a week, 3 sets of 10 reps, forever). Are there any recommendations for coming up with plans?
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Old 06-13-2007, 11:47 AM   #2
Mirza Besic
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Well, you kind of sound like that hamstring accident gave you a 'reason' to switch up your workout lol.

Steven, chime in with your 'how to construct a workout' article link; you REALLY should read it.

But you will be still limited to your exercises that don't include the hamstring in them. So I wouldn't train my legs and wouldn't do any compound movements. Because compound movements where you lift things above your head include your legs quite a bit.

Bench Press should be ok, Pull-up's I don't see why not as long as you don't land hard.

It's really hard to say what you can or can't do. The best way is for you to feel it out yourself. If I'm ever injured, I know exactly what I can or can't do period. What causes pain, I don't do. :-) Well.. what causes a lot of pain anyways.

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Old 06-13-2007, 11:56 AM   #3
Jerry Berg
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emily...i think if you constructed a template around the rings, you couldn't possibly go wrong.
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Old 06-13-2007, 12:09 PM   #4
Patrick Donnelly
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Steven's "Construct a Program" article:
(Not sure if it was posted here too, but that's the link I have. Safe.)

First thing that came to mind when I heard "abysmal upper-body and core strength" is rings. Ever tried doing push-ups with a set of low hanging rings? I second Jerry's suggestion.
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Old 06-13-2007, 12:36 PM   #5
Emily Mattes
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Hey Mirza, I am trying to keep positive about it. I'm pretty bummed about the hamstring actually since I've been really excited about starting a new workout program. But I did too much too fast and tore myself up. One of my goals has been to burn fat, but I have no idea how I'll do that with just an upper-body workout. But it is probably about time I focused more on my upper-body anyway. I can barely do twenty real push-ups straight, can't do a pull-up, and just forget about dips or holds!

Anyway, my upper-body workouts have been varieties of push-ups and pull-ups, which can't be everything. The rings are a great idea. I also have a pair of parallettes. What other specific exercises do you guys recommend? Anything in the weight room?
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Old 06-13-2007, 01:04 PM   #6
Gorm Laursen
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Presses of all sorts, but no push presses or jerk, as you use the hamstrings for that as well. Pulls of all sort except upwards pulling, as you may risk engaging the hamstring there as well. Abdominals of all sorts.

A short list:

Bench presses – dumbells & barbell
Shoulder presses – db & bb

Renegade rows
Pullups (oh s***, can't do those. Do some static hangs as well, preferably in the more active sort as knees to elbows or wind shield wipers)
... and that just about does it for pulls for the upper body if you wanna be completely sure you're not going to use the hamstrings.

Planks & sideplanks
Knees to elbows
Wind shield wipers
Dragon flags

Swimming using arms only
Crawling using arms only (that'd be called dragging, I guess)
Boxing without the leg works
Static holds of all sorts – can also be done without weights: Try and hold your arms out in front of you for a few minutes ;)

An upperbody WOD could for instance be:
100 pushups
200 renegade rows 100 left/100 right
300 situps

That'd smoke you (and if not, I pray to God we'll never cross paths with grudges ...)

Just play with numbers and drills and there you have it!
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Old 06-13-2007, 04:03 PM   #7
Steven Low
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Rings, rings, rings. Get on rings everyday, and your strength to bodyweight ratio will shoot up very, very fast. You'll be suprised how much work on rings transfers well to other stuff even lower body like DLs, cleans, and many other exercises. I rarely did regular pullups and suddenly after working iron cross for a while I could put on an extra 70 lbs of weight for weighted pullups. That's just one example but you get the point.

Basing a workout around rings may be difficult if you don't know what you're looking to do. Some easy things you can start off with are:

support holds
inverted hangs

Actual movements may be:

pull to inverted hang from regular hang
skin the cat
pull out of skin the cat to inverted hang
knees to elbows

working up to stuff like:
shoulder stands (static)
start back lever progressoins
start front lever progressions
hanging leg raises

then onto:
more advanced lever progressions
muscle ups
different types of pushups and rows (see link at end)

(w/f safe):


Honestly, rings strength transfer over very well to pretty much anything. Making a metcon workout isn't that hard as you can add different types of moves like knees to elbows, pushups and rows or something like that. Basically not that hard to come up with stuff.

If you desire to put together a strength routine, I would suggest looking at the link above about how to put together a workout routine. Any specific questions can be put here and we'll help you out.
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Old 06-18-2007, 05:59 AM   #8
Keith Wittenstein
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When you read that article "working wounded." It mentions that in those cases they set some pretty lofty goals for those people and then set about trying to realize them. You should do the same.

You say you can't do a pullup, so obviously let's start there. Let's say you are going to be off your legs for 8 weeks. Let's try to get you 10 pullups in these 8 weeks.

Let's also shoot for 10 ring dips.

Let's also add 5 handstand pushups and a muscle up to your list of goals.

How about a bodyweight bench press and a 95lb overhead press.

You'll also want to be able to do a freestanding handstand for 30 seconds.

Now we have a list of goals for you to work on. It shouldn't be too hard to come up with some interesting workouts that include these movements. Basically you'll have to reverse engineer some of this from the future to the present.

Get yourself a calendar and plot your schedule: 5 days per week for 8 weeks.

Alternate Dips, Bench Press and Overhead Press every other day. Do pullups or body rows everyday. Handstand every day at the wall at least 5 minutes total (5x1min, 10x30sec). Create a quick warmup routine that incorporates as many of the exercises as you can do and do it everyday.

Be creative there is plenty of information on all of these skills out there. You just have to plan your work and work your plan.

Get to work. :-)
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Old 06-18-2007, 10:07 AM   #9
Ben Kaminski
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You can pull and push each in three different planes (up, down, and fwd/back). Between bodyweight work and work with weights, the possibilities can be endless in designing workouts, and coordinating them across a 3-1 framework.
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