When will I get my first pull-up?

Whilst we all love group training, it can sometimes be a struggle to get the time and coaching on the specific skills that we struggle with. At Exe, we are very lucky in that we have the space and timetable that allows for open gym. Open gym is the perfect place to work on your own, individual areas of improvement.

Most people do use open gym for this, but much of the training that goes on is ad-hoc. Cool workouts from the internets, funky drills to get you a new skill, some freaky mobility stuff. What’s missing currently is the personal touch. That’s a cool workout…but it’s going to crush you and keep you from quality training for a week. That’s a great drill…but do you know the purpose, chances are it’s not the same as yours. That’s a nice mobility drill…but do you know you can get the same effect without using 17 bands. You get the picture.

It’s easy to get lost in all the information out there, but it needn’t be that way. You have an amazing group of coaches and other experts at your disposal…use them. Through informal chats up right up to individual programming and one-one coaching…we’re here to help. With help and guidance, you can get amazingly fit in the group classes whilst also overcoming your own personal weaknesses in open gym.

Now, with that said, onto the pull-ups…

Sorry to disappoint a lot of people, but I’m not going to list your name and the date that you will get your first pull-up! What I will do is provide the framework to achieve your first pull-up, or first muscle-up, or handstand or whatever you desire, really.

There are a few things that need addressing before you dive into any additional training…

What’s the goal?
A clearly outlined goal with a target date of achievement, an end point, gives clarity and focus to your training. Training can be hard and often not much fun, so having something to focus on can really push you through such sessions. The date in its own right can also act as a motivator to get in and do the work even when you don’t feel like it, knowing that the deadline is looming and you’ve made a promise to yourself to achieve the mission.

Where is your base point?
Without a base point, it is impossible to determine your training path toward your end goal. An expert assessment by a coach can determine where you are at. An assessment would look at existing injuries, structural balance, relative strength and movement capacity to give a form a clear picture of where your base point. The base point coupled with the end goal, determines the first step, which in turn determines the whole journey.

Why do you want to achieve the goal?
Is it because you have extrinsic motivation such as wanting to impress your friends or because so-and-so can and you want to keep up with them? Or is it more intrinsic, a deeper desire to learn a new skill, develop new strength and build confidence in your movement? Either type of motivation can work, but the intrinsic type generally brings greater dedication and longer lasting results as it’s for you, not for anyone else. Find those things that you want. That drive you. Your commitment and subsequent reward will be that much greater.

How committed are you?
You may have all the motivation to achieve your goal, but can you actually commit the time and energy to achieving it? There’s no shame in saying it’ll be a struggle. With busy work schedules, family commitments, your ongoing training and active social and recreational lives, it’s very hard to give the extra time needed. It doesn’t mean the goal isn’t achievable, it just means a tweak to your target date of achievement and the structure of your training plan.

What does your training entail?
All of the above will determine what your training looks like: the structure of the sessions and how it fits into your current schedule. The individual structure of the sessions will vary from person-to-person. As with the consultation and assessment phase, your coach can work with you on exercise choice, correct execution, and when to fit it in.

Reality bites
All the above is set-up. Prerequisites to achieving your goal. The hard bit comes in the action, the doing, the ‘getting it done’ consistently and progressively. This is where you will need to work on forming the habit for success. Forming a habit around your individual training, in whatever form it takes, will help you stick with the plan and make progress. There are three steps to forming a behaviour. A new habit needs a Cue, a Routine; and a Reward.

The Cue is a reminder to get the training done. This could be as simple as starting your training as soon as you walk through the gym door, as soon as you finish foam rolling, as soon as class finishes etc. It’s a note to self that you have an individual plan to complete.

Next comes the Routine. You follow your training plan so there is no faff or fluff over what to do. No guesswork, just action.

Finally, comes the Reward. You need to celebrate the completion of your training. Give yourself a little reward. Maybe only crack open your post-workout shake once your individual training is completed, or treat yourself to a coffee. The reward reinforces the habit and makes sure it sticks.

Before long you will have developed the behaviour of completing your individual training consistently. By completing your training consistently, you will step closer and closer to your goal.

A call to action
So it’s over to you. What do you want to achieve?

As with anything worth achieving, there will be ups and downs. You’re not in this on your own though. The guidance and support of your peers is always present and, with the constant analysis and feedback from your coach, will help keep you on track. Keep the end goal in mind and chip away at it every day, but try not to get too hung up on it. this will lead to frustration. Get excited about the process knowing that you are getting stronger regardless of you achieving that goal.

Individual development is, obviously by its very nature, a very personal pursuit. Personal in choice, motivation, and action. We all have our own paths to tread. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we have a clear understanding of where we are at, where we want to go, a plan to get there and the behaviour in place to make it happen.

With all that aligned, you are unstoppable. Bring on that pull-up!

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What is Functional Fitness?

After quite a few years in the fitness world, you start to see that concepts, ideas and methodologies work on a bit of a cycle. Things pop up, become the ‘only’ way to train, then fade away and get surpassed by the latest and greatest. Currently, Functional Fitness is in vogue. It’s not its first rodeo, in the late 90s and early 00s, it was the way to train.

The initial concept of Functional Training is a solid approach to anyone’s training. Base your training on what you are going to be do doing in everyday life. Train for a task, build the functionality to complete the task. It’s a simple concept that’s easy to buy into, hence it’s popularity way back when and now.

Unfortunately, how you go about achieving this is where Functional Fitness has suffered. I remember when trainers had their members balancing on Swiss balls performing barbell squats with a multitude of bands attached to each limb, all in the name of Function! I forget what the rationale of this training was, probably to stand out from competitors, but let’s just say it got a little silly, went far away from the original concept, and, as it didn’t actually work, went out of fashion.

The rise of CrossFit has brought a new focus on Functional Training. Using tried and tested strength, weightlifting, gymnastics and metabolic conditioning methodology to bring real results. The popularity has meant that there are now lots of gyms doing Functional Fitness. That’s amazing as long as the methodology is sound and the proponents understand why and what they are doing. If they don’t, and I’ve already seen some signs of this, then we risk going down the silly route again in the name of ‘Function’.

Largely through the work of CrossFit and it’s splinter experts, the aim of Functional Training has been expanded. For general fitness, it is to be prepared for anything life can throw at you and to be able to complete tasks more quickly and efficiently. To be better at life. An extension of this is competitive exercise, Functional Fitness as a sport, which has allowed more people to explore the limits of their physical capacity.

At this gym, we try not to get caught up on the name, but we do try to achieve the same goal. We do this by taking care of our foundations through nutrition, movement, rest/recovery and mental wellbeing.

When we have strong foundations we can express ourselves more fully. We can pull, push, squat, bend, run, swim, bike, jump, climb, carry etc. as and when we need to. We can carry all our shopping in one trip, climb a mountain, load and unload our luggage ourselves, climb into our attic without a ladder, run the dog, throw the kids about and lots and lots of other stuff. What’s more, we can do it all with a smile on our face. We develop strong and enduring bodies and a mental attitude to match. We do and we are doers.

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How much should I train?


We have been asked several times by new starters and also by more experienced members what we recommend for a typical training week. As usual, the answer is, it depends. It depends on where you are currently, what your training experience is and where you want to go. Oh, and the small matter of fitting it into your schedule without adding more stress to a busy life.

There is no typical training week for 150+ people. Everyone’s needs and wants and ability to achieve them are different.

That being said, if we attempt to group members, we can start to advise on typical expectations and broad training patterns. A simple split is as follows: New Starter, Developer, Mature and Competitor.

New starters will benefit most from the two strength sessions and the capacity session, but should not fear the weightlifting either. They will typically make progressions just from looking at a barbell so should try everything that their schedule and body allows. Get involved in any class and try to minimise preconceptions. Have some fun and enjoy the gains…unfortunately, they don’t last.

As you start to settle in with CrossFit, as your schedule settles down and your early gains slow down, you can consider yourself a developer. you can start to take the weightlifting & gymnastics a little more seriously as you will have developed the base movement patterns and work capacity to benefit from it. You will start to develop an understanding of what your strengths and weaknesses are. Do sessions in both for progression and enjoyment. Class programming at 3-4 sessions per week is perfect for this stage.

Further down the line, when you are confident in your CrossFit skills, you can consider yourself a mature CrossFitter. Progress at this stage may be hard to come by, you may even go backward at times. Your passion for training may dip at times. This is all normal and you will start to realise these patterns as your experience increases.

In the mature stage, you may start to look at more specific training to your needs. The classes, by their nature, are for broad and general training. A mix of classes and more individual training could be an option for keeping training fresh and overcoming plateaus. This may be the time to ask the coaches about open gym programming and private training.

For those interested in competing and who are reaching high levels of both performance and dedication, broad general programming alone will mean that your weaknesses remain weaknesses. Get into classes for fun of course, but you will require individual programming and specific skill coaching to bring out your peak fitness. Serious results require serious commitment and training. Congratulations. You are a fully fledged Crossfit addict.

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THU 15/03/18

Hang Power clean
6 sets to build to heavy single

In pairs, 5 rounds each:
15 Hang Power Cleans 47.5/35
12 Step-Back Lunges 47.5/35
9 Over-the-Bar Burpees

Alternate each round

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WED 14/03/18


AMRAP 30, in pairs:
30 Russian Swings, 32/24
30 Box Jump Over, 24/20
30 Hang DB Snatch, 22.5/15
30 cal Bike

– Split reps as required for all movements

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TUE 13/03/18

1 – HS Walk Practice
2 – 10 Hollow Tuck-up
3 – Bar Muscle-up Practice
4 – 10 Plank Shoulder Tap

For time:
800m Row
50 Hanging knee raise
50 Pistol squats*
800m Run

*Pistols > Single Leg Box Squat

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MON 12/03/18

Tempo Back squat @ 33X1
3-5 sets to build to 60%
3 @ 60-70% every 2 minutes for 10 minutes

For 15 minutes…
10 KB/DB Push-press, each side
20 Mountain Climbers
30 Alternating Step-ups, 20″

– Monday move & breathe
– Steady, consistent, aerobic pace…don’t burn-out
– Choose own KB/DB weight

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FRI 09/03/18

CrossFit Open 18.3

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THU 08/03/18

Snatch Balance

For 12 minutes:
10 Syncro Air Squats
20 DB Snatch 22.5/15
30m DB OH Walk Lunge 22.5/15

Each round add 10 more reps to squats

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WED 07/03/18

For time:
25/18 cal Row
25 Double-unders
25 Down-ups
25 Double-unders
25/18 cal Bike

Rest 4 min
3 sets

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