Thursday, July 20, 2017

Adapting and Overcoming [Travis Mash's Barbell Life]

What’s the one thing that could be better than having one Travis on a podcast? Having two!

Thanks to Travis Mash​ of The Barbell Life Podcast, we were able to make this dream a reality.

In this podcast, we discussed
  • My life story (or at least the cliff notes version)
  • My quest for the Paralympics and how it led me first to personal training and now to my PhD
  • How I approach new clients
  • Advice on growing an internet presence
  • The most important skills trainers should have
  • And much more!

The episode is available for your listening enjoyment on iTunes and Spreaker:

Listen to "158 - Adapting and Overcoming with Travis Pollen" on Spreaker.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Simple Pull-Up Progression You Haven’t Tried

A bodyweight pull-up is one of the most elusive movements to master in the gym, especially for adult female exercisers. It takes a rare combination of upper body strength, core strength, and low body fat.

The pull-up is an incredibly worthwhile goal, though. There are few feelings sweeter than conquering that first rep. Of course, one of them would probably have to be tasting that Unicorn Frappuccino everyone was going crazy about a few weeks ago. Mmmmm....

Starbucks drama aside, every trainer has their preferred method of working their clients towards a pull-up. Most pull-up progressions go something like this, with plenty of room for variation (you could argue about the exercise selection and order until the cows come home, and many trainers do):

1. Lat pull-downs
2. Australian pull-ups (AKA inverted rows)
3. Hanging hollow body holds
4. Band-assisted pull-ups
5. Bent-arm hangs
6. Scapular pull-ups
7. Negative reps
8. Pull-ups!

Progressions like these are proven: they’ve helped lots of trainees crush their first rep. But they don’t always work.

Where I see people plateau most often is right at the tail end of the progression. I’ve had clients who can do negative reps for days, but when it comes time to try the full shebang, they barely budge from the straight-arm position.

Fortunately, I believe I’ve discovered the last piece to the pull-up puzzle. It happened very much by accident, when my girlfriend (who coincidentally is working on her first pull-up) showed me a video of her performing a 3/4 partial rep. Because our doorframe pull-up rig is only so tall, she started with her elbows bent, as shown below, hence the ‘partial’ modifier.

Girlfriend not pictured.
But you CAN see what a doorframe pull-up bar looks like.

That’s when the light bulb went off.