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Old 07-16-2006, 10:42 AM   #1
Travis Hall
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i've always been a bodyweight only guy.
but i want to start adding weight to the basics- dips and pulls mostly. (when i get my full range hspu up to an easy 10 reps i'll add weight to those too i suppose).

i don't have any experience with weights. bench pressed all of once in my life back in high school!

the last few days i have been playing around with a 20lbs weight belt i have. 5 sets of 10 pulls is easy if i take a minute or two breather in between. same for dips. i'm thinking i should add weight. but how much?

my aim is to increase strength (of course!) and i wouldn't mind a bit of muscle growth either. what should i be following as far as sets and rep ranges go? how should i play with the weights and when do/ how often do i increase?

also, can i for example do weighted pulls everyday? i'm thinking i should do them every second day- if so, can i do bw pulls on the days inbetween, or should i simply rest from the pulling? i know this can be very dependant on an individuals health and recovery rate, but i'm looking for general guidelines to follow until i get the hang of my own rythm with the weights.

looking for any and all info and help!
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Old 07-16-2006, 11:14 AM   #2
Tim Triche, Jr.
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Be careful about high reps with weighted pulls on a regular pullup bar. It is quite possible to give yourself a bad case of medial epicondylitis, and unless you play the piano or guitar, there's not an awful lot you can do to reverse it other than rest. If you're going to do a lot of heavy weighted pulls you might want to consider using a towel or the rings instead, as they will be less likely to trash your elbows.

I used to do weighted dips with up to 110lbs. and never had any problems at all. On the rings they are even more gentle to my shoulders. Certainly a lot more biomechanically friendly than barbell bench presses.

Try adding 5 lbs. at a time (either with dumbbells or your weight belt) and progress upwards. I used to warm up with a 45lb. plate for both dips and pullups, then get into it with the "real" weight. I think I may start doing that again, even if it's just as part of my CFWU.

Weighted pistols and HSPU's with ankle weights are also a possibility you might investigate. I assume you are already doing muscle-ups and either planches or the planche progression? There are so very many gymnastic bodyweight feats to accomplish, I had little appreciation for the breadth of difficulty represented on the rings and parallel bars before I started down the Crossfit rabbit hole. It goes as deep as you want it to.

If you don't have a pair of rings yet, you'll be well served by going over to http://ringtraining.com/ and buying a set. They are a tremendous training tool. Also, Crossfit North has a list of "Athletic Skill Levels" at http://www.crossfitnorth.com/skill_level_training.htm which might provide you with some ideas for goals.

Regarding rest and how many days "on" per week, I personally would not want to go heavy more than 3-4 times a week, for fear that my tendons would be unable to keep up. This is a problem encountered often by climbers who aggressively use a campus board, and one day, PING there goes a finger tendon and you're out for 6 weeks. Better safe than sorry with regards to connective tissue! It does not adapt as quickly as your muscles will. The ballistic loading of your ligaments and tendons with hypergravity (weighted) bodyweight exercises can be extreme, and caution is well warranted lest you take an unwanted "break" from training.

Coach Sommers has written up a number of challenging progressions which you might be interested in, for the planche and the lever: http://www.crossfitnorth.com/skill_level_training.htm

I haven't quite got the levers yet, but I'm coming close. The planche is more challenging for me since I have a paralyzed right serratus. If I can get it rehabbed either surgically or through spontaneous resolution, I will aggressively pursue the planche again on my parallettes.

If you haven't built a pair of parallettes, that would also be a good idea. A howto is available from http://www.drillsandskills.com/skills/cond(this is one of many answers found in the Crossfit FAQ, which you may have already read, but since it's a big document, it's easy to overlook some very valuable resources if you're not careful).

Good luck. Be sure and post up with what works and what doesn't for you, as well as your progress. With your attitude I'm sure it will be swift indeed.


(Message edited by ttriche on July 16, 2006)
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Old 07-16-2006, 12:40 PM   #3
Travis Hall
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most of your assumptions are right!
to be specific at where i am at:

i am doing the planche progressions. i'm at the advanced tuck- 20 sec holds. but i really don't work on these enough.

my back lever is pathetic. but my front lever is getting there- a solid 20 sec (10 sec each leg) with one leg fully extended and the other bent in. can switch legs during hold with out lossing form. i figure i'll have a solid front lever by early fall- if i don't slack.

as for paralettes- i have them and use them frequently for full range hspu- i'm up to easy sets of five. want to get up to easy sets of ten before i add weight though.
i am also using them for l-sits. normally a few sets of 30 sec. not sure what my max hold is.
i'm currently 160bs and about 6 feet.
.... i don't know if all that helps any. but there it is.

thanks for the safety advice concerning pulls on a bar, though. never considered that.

but what rep range would you recommoned? anywhere between 8-15 for strength and growth? what about sets 3, 5?
i'm used to doing bodyweight stuff, so my perspective feels warped when it comes to weights. 100 pulls followed by 100 dips just doesn't seem right with weights, although i often do it with bodyweight.

also, if you recommened i take long breaks. i'm guessing it would be best to hit the weighted dips and pulls all on the same day, instead of each on a day, to give longer recovery for my arms. right?

thanks for your quick response.
t.
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Old 07-16-2006, 01:54 PM   #4
Jeremie de Sousa
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"Be careful about high reps with weighted pulls on a regular pullup bar. It is quite possible to give yourself a bad case of medial epicondylitis, and unless you play the piano or guitar, there's not an awful lot you can do to reverse it other than rest. If you're going to do a lot of heavy weighted pulls you might want to consider using a towel or the rings instead, as they will be less likely to trash your elbows."

*omg* i should habe read that before,
i'm suffering from Medial Epicondylitis,and a lot more...
i need to rest at least 8 weeks,
i did heavy pulls..i was such an idiot;(
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Old 07-16-2006, 05:17 PM   #5
Steven Low
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The approximate rep ranges for strength are 1-4 reps and for hypertrophy are about 6-12 reps. 4-6 is more mixed strength and hypertrophy.

The way I do my progressions is through this method:

1. Start upping the reps 5x5 -> 5x6 -> 5x7 -> 5x8 for an exercise
2. Start weighting the exercise with 5 lbs and drop back down to 5x5
3. Start upping the reps 5x5 -> 5x6 -> 5x7 -> 5x8 with the 5 lbs extra weight
4. Rinse and repeat for additional weight

This method is good for obtaining strength with hypertrophy I have found. I have used it directly on my cross work and my pecs and lats literally blew up from nothing to respectable in about 8 months (was about to hold a cross for about 2 secs... juiced on adrenaline during a show of course :-)).

Every workout I would try to increase the reps or up the weight. So if I did 5x5 monday, I would try to do 5x6 Tuesday... if I was feeling too weak then I would drop down to 5x5 for the rest of the sets. Then the next workout would be up to 5x6, and if that went well then 5x7 the next and so on.

---------------

Here's my training log if you want to take a look at it. I do pretty much all bodyweight exercises (I only mainly post the exercises I am doing for my upper body and don't often include my deadlifts or squat stuff in it). The first few pages I am pretty aimless and then I get some direction around page 4-5 and then finally figure out what to do (or really how to put my workouts together and train for specific exercises -- e.g. the 5x5 -> 5x8 progression I stated) around page 12. This is, of course, all over a period of like 6-8 months, so it's pretty awesome to see the progress/epiphanies. My training is actually pretty interesting right now as I'm trying to find a way of improving on the rings faster than I have been currently improving.

http://www.powerathletesmag.com/wforum/viewtopic.php?t=453

P.S. For upper body GPP (general physical preparedness) I would recommend dips, pullups, handstand pushups, rows, and planche and front lever progressions with their respective pushups and pullups. If you do those and eventually start weighting them, you will have a very well proportioned upper body and incredible functional strength.

(Message edited by braindx on July 16, 2006)
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Old 07-17-2006, 06:49 AM   #6
Travis Hall
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steven, thanks for your input.

one thing i'm not clear on is how often you train weighted? from your training notes i'm guessing you train every second day weighted?

i was wondering if i applied your set/rep scheme to the schedule that anthony posted in the xfit/power lift thread, how that would work out? right now i will only be focusing on weighted dips and pulls. (i don't feel i've reached the level in the progressions to bother weighting them yet). weighted dids and pulls should fairly cover the upper body, right? nothing should get too out of wack? - comments/opinions?

Example (thanks anthony b.):

Day 1: ME dips and pulls
Day 2: Metcon or MMA
Day 3: Metcon with heavy focus on hspu
Day 4: Off
Day 5: ME dips and pulls
Day 6: Metcon or MMA
Day 7: Metcon with heavy focus on hspu
Day 8: Off
Day 9: dips and pulls
Day 10: Metcon or MMA
Day 11: Metcon with heavy focus on hspu
Day 12: off.
... repeat
---

as far as elbows are cocerned i think doing chins instead of pulls with the weights should be easier on them? any thoughts? chins put the elbow in a straight line with the whole arm, so that should take some uneeded stress of the joint, right?

cheers,
t.
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Old 07-17-2006, 06:53 PM   #7
Steven Low
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I haven't been training with weights for a little bit now because the weight belt I was using got put away at the start of camp this summer. I have also been training on a regular set of rings (regular mounted height that is), so doing weighted exercise besides regular pullups would be really hard or risky since it is about an 8 foot fall to the ground. Thus, I have tried to make the exercises I am doing harder to compensate.

The 5x5 -> 5x8 progression I have found works better with a m,w,f ME (max effort) schedule, and you can do whatever you want on the side within the other days of the week (at least for me). Really though, see what works for you. We all eat, sleep, recover much different depending on a lot of factors such as genetics, environmental stresses, etc. so really the main thing is if you can find something that works for you. A lot of guys on here do the 3 on 1 off workout on the main page, but there are guys who also do 5 on 2 off. I schedule my ME days as m,w,f so I'm also different in those terms. Experiment a bit and see what you body can handle. My advice is to try Anthony's schedule, but if you are feeling tired a lot and weak during your workouts after day 12, then you might want to take a break or consider a different workout because your body probably can't handle the load that you are putting on it.

As for pullups and dips, that is a good start. Pullups hit nearly the same muscle as rows, but it is useful to have them as a pull exercise to balance the HSPUs if you are going to use that as well. Both will hit different muscle groups in different ways, and along with the planche and front lever progressions you will get a well balanced upper body. I am not quite sure about if you just do dips and pullups with the planche and front lever progressions (mainly because I haven't done that), but if you are going to do that then tell me how it goes.

Anyway, chins are really the preferred pullup because you can do more stuff with them (kipping pullups and muscle ups and such); however, it would be good to be proficient in both. I am not sure about how much stress each puts on the joint of the elbow though... I think they put similar amount of stress on them. Doing them on rings (as well as with dips) is beneficial to the elbows though. :-)

Good luck.
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Old 07-17-2006, 10:33 PM   #8
Tim Triche, Jr.
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What Steven said. I used to emphasize 4-8 reps for 3-5 sets and then increase the weight. I haven't been working weighted pullups and dips since I got my rings, rather working on levers and my iron cross, and relegating the pullups and dips to my warmup (or else as part of the WOD).

However, as I try and get my stuff back together I'm probably going to do the same as before, but using the rings, and instead of going for maximum weight to get my OAC (one-arm chin) back, I'm going to concentrate on negatives (one-arm comedowns) instead. Eccentric movements, conveniently, are prescribed as one of several treatments for medial epicondylitis (soreness of the medial tuberosity of the elbow -- very common in climbers who also do pullup work). It is important to stretch your fingers, even if you use a towel or rings, and it seems to help keep my tendons healthy. At least, as healthy as they could stay with the fixed-grip pulls and zero opposition work I used to do. Good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgment. I consider fixed-grip weighted pulls to be a bad choice, given their established history of leading to medial epicondylitis in something like 70% of the cases that one specialist saw.

I would stay away from the increased training volume represented by doing bodyweight pulls on your 'off' days, simply because repetitive stress in a given position is what led to my issues. If there's a bunch of WODs in a row that emphasize pullups, big deal, do them. It's consistent overuse that I am afraid of, now that I've been down that road. Let your connective tissue recover and it will pay you back many fold. Ligaments and tendons adapt to increased demands at a slower pace than muscles -- this is a crucial consideration as you go beyond bodyweight on familiar exercises. The additional stress may not seem like much to your muscles, but if you're not giving yourself enough time to recover, you could dig a pretty deep hole for your tendons.

I can't stress enough the benefits of having free rotation for your wrists when doing weighted pulls. It's a very deliberate act to get a false grip on the rings, whereas on chins, it's just a reflex (for me at least). I did most of my damage with a supinated (chin) position, but I believe that the culprit was the fixed grip, rather than any particular grip. A towel or rings will completely obviate this consideration and (I think) allow you progress at reduced risk.

If you're already knocking out HSPUs, they are the natural antagonist movement for pullups. I did not do them back when I was doing heavy weighted dips and chins, and now that I know about HSPUs, I really wish I had. My paralyzed serratus makes them really difficult, though I'm trying to get them on the parallettes. If you can do them easily, by all means, emphasize them!

Gymnasts always know these things inside out, so if Steven says one thing and I say another, listen to the uninjured guy instead of me. :-)

(Message edited by ttriche on July 17, 2006)
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Old 07-17-2006, 10:42 PM   #9
Russ Greene
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Travis, you aim to get stronger and build muscle, but you don't seem to be placing much of an emphasis on weighted squats, deadlifts, and olympic lifts. Why? Get your deadlift, overhead squat, and clean and jerk up in addition to your weighted dips and pulls and you will be bigger, stronger, and more powerful.

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Old 07-17-2006, 10:47 PM   #10
Tim Triche, Jr.
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Some sports penalize lower body muscle mass -- climbing, for example, does not reward leg development in proportion to the effort you expend. I've found Steven's suggestions to be very helpful in tailoring Crossfitting to my personal goals.
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