Workout of the Week

#4: Exercise Tip of the Week

Hello NorCalSpartan.  This is the fourth installment of “Exercise Tip of the Week.”  Pulling power is a huge requirement for being successful in Spartan and OCR racing.  The ability to pull yourself over a wall, object, or even climb a rope is a necessity to your success out there in the race.  One great way to train your pulling strength and grip strength is to do Prowler Sled Pulls or Sled Pulls.  Watch the video below:

  1. Attach a long rope (We suggest a minimum of 25 ft.) to a Sled or Prowler Sled.
  2. Set the heels firmly into the ground and begin pulling the sled back towards you
  3. Rotate the torso slightly as you pull hand over hand to gain momentum
  4. Knees should be slightly bent and body upright in a 1/4 Squat position for stability
  5. Continue pulling hand over hand till the sled has covered the full length of the rope
  6. For an Extra bonus push the sled back to the start position to start the process over again

Head on over to our Products page to see what we recommend for obstacle course training and racing.

Rope Climb Substitution

#3: Exercise Tip of the Week

Hello NorCalSpartan.  This is the third installment of “Exercise Tip of the Week.”  A lot of you training for the Spartan Race out there don’t have access to a rope to climb (mostly because of a place to attach it).  One of the best ways to train the rope climb without a rope is attaching a rope or strap to a heavy object, our favorite being a tire (super easy to get a used tire and rope somewhere for peanuts).

Our friends over at the Obstacle Order filmed a great way to simulate rope climbing using a tire without attaching a rope to a high ceiling or post.  Watch the video below and read the Key notes at the bottom to perfect your technique:

Key notes

1. Start in a push up position with feet outside the hips

2. Have one hand on the rope and the other underneath your shoulder for support

3. Abs and glutes should be engaged to keep the body stable and the midline tight

4. Begin with the hand holding the rope pulling the elbow towards your midline all while maintaining your stable push up position (keep hips square, they shouldn’t move)

5. Switch hands on the rope and repeat the process till your object is pulled the full distance

Head on over to our Products page to see what we recommend for obstacle course training and racing.


Pull Ups

Real Pull Ups to Keep Your Shoulders Healthy

Well, if you clicked on the link or found this article on Google, you are wanting to do pull ups and keep your shoulders in tact when doing them.  Great!  Let’s first go over the proper mechanics of the Pull Up so that you are doing them correctly and keeping the shoulder girdle in good health. When hanging from the bar follow these steps to perform a proper pull up:
  1. Start from a complete deadhang (arms locked out) in the hollow position (glutes and abs engaged, so pelvis should have an anterior tilt)
  2. Pull your scapulas downwards with your arms still locked out (Scap Pull Down)
  3. After scapulas are engaged begin pulling with your arms with elbows slightly out to keep the lats fully engaged (at the top of the pull up elbows should be directly under your wrists)
  4. Without reaching the chin over the bar pull your body upwards till your chin passes the bar with head in neutral position
  5. Control your speed on the way back down to the start position, don’t fall (complete deadhang, that would be a true pull up, bouncing at the bottom of the pull up is hard on the integrity of the shoulder and you fail to build the proper strength out of the bottom of the pull up if you bounce at the bottom)

This video from our friends over at NorCal Strength and Conditioning is a great representation of how the Pull Up should be completed.

The biggest thing is maintaining the hollow position throughout the movement and engaging the scapulas with no bouncing at the bottom.  It’s easy to start kicking the legs or trying to incorporate the hips into the movement when fatigue sets in.  This is especially true if you don’t have a pull up yet.  This puts huge strain on the shoulders and if you are tight or have had past injuries there this is definitely a no no.
If you don’t have pull ups yet there are many variations of the pull up you can work on to build up the proper strength to crush them in the future.  My all time favorite to help build strength and keep the shoulders healthy is Pull Up Negatives.  Emphasize slow movement on the way up and back down using a box/ground to control how much weight of your body is being used.  I suggest doing 3-4 seconds in each direction doing the exact same movements as the traditional pull up for 4-5 reps.
If your gym has an assisted pull up machine this is another fantastic way to work on pull ups without full body weight.  And my least favorite assisted pull up is using bands.  If you choose to go this route please emphasize no bouncing at the bottom position of the band.  Again, if you bounce at the bottom this will keep you weak in the bottom of the pull phase.  Do the pull up normally as if you had no band assisting you, the intent of the band is to remove some body weight.
These strategies will keep those shoulders and scapulas healthy and allow you to improve your pull up game without increasing your chance for injury.