Thursday, April 09, 2009
I really should have wrote this a long time ago, or at least immediately after last years CrossFit Games....
Seeing as where the Third Annual CrossFit Games are right around the corner and the 2009 Regional Qualifiers have already begun, I thought I would share a bit of history as to the origins of what was called “the new standard” at the CrossFit games.
A lot was made of last years CrossFit Games “chest-to-bar” standard for the pull-up during the “Fran” workout of the Day-1 competition. This simple adjustment, “raising the standard”, caught many of the competitors by surprise and added a lot of time to their “Fran” times. For many competitors this new standard more than DOUBLED their “Fran” times.
I thought I would share with all of you the origins of this “new standard” for CrossFit pull-ups. I have been around CrossFit for over 10 years now and the FIRST person I EVER heard mention anything about going chest-to-bar on pull-ups was Ronnie Boose. He was a group class client (and now a dear friend) back when I was running classes out of CrossFit HQ (that’s “HeadQuarters” for those newer to CrossFit). I remember getting ready to run my class one afternoon and Ronnie walked up to me and said;
“...J, ...I been thinking, ...I think since we represent CFHQ and the whole world looks to us, ...*we* should go chest-to-bar on our pull-ups.”
...I remember this very clearly because, being one of the first CrossFit Trainers, I had always prided myself as being a good Coach, Trainer and Athlete. ...A leader. When I heard Ronnie say this to me, ...I was standing there, a Coach and long-time CrossFit’er, with a client telling me “hey, we need to raise our standard.” It caught me off guard a bit and to be quite honest about it, since I was one of the first CrossFit Trainers, I was a little disappointed in myself that I didn’t think of it. So I looked Ronnie in the eye and said, “You’re absolutely right, Ronnie.--Let’s do it!--Being CrossFit HeadQuarters, we will set a higher standard!” ...And that was the true origin of the chest-to-bar standard that all have come to know since the 2008 CrossFit Games. It all started with Ronnie Boose.
Part of Ronnie’s reasoning for making our standard at CrossFit HeadQuarters be chest-to-bar on pull-ups was in response to Mark Twight of “Gym Jones”, (who blatantly plagiarized Greg “Coach” Glassman’s material and tried to market it as his own, btw, ...something for which I will write about later), who would regularly ridicule CrossFit for falling a little shy on range of motion and form during the high-intensity workouts captured on video for use on the main site’s daily WOD. (I was there at the first CrossFit Seminar that Mark Twight ever attended and hung out with him quite a bit, back when he couldn’t do an air-squat.) It was partly Mark Twight’s ridicule that drove Ronnie to go chest-to-bar on pull-ups.
That very afternoon, I embraced Ronnie’s suggestion and started implementing the chest-to-bar standard. We tried to spread it to anyone who would listen, to any of the athletes who already had kipping pull-ups and were willing to push their pull-up capacity to another level. I remember going to dinner with Greg Amundson and his Fiance at the time, Malle Sato (now married) and telling Greg in an effort to improve his personal fitness capacity, “...Just because ‘chin-above’the-bar’ is the ‘CrossFit Standard’ doesn’t mean it has to be YOUR standard.--We represent CFHQ and we should strive for a higher standard.--It will also greatly improve your personal pulling power and strength.”
If you dig through the archives of the CrossFit website and go back to the July 10’th, 2007 entry and watch the workout demo video of Ronnie Boose of CrossFit North Santa Cruz going head-to-head with Andy Stumpf of CrossFit Coronado on a Kettle-Bell Over-Head Walking-Lunge and Pull-Up workout, you can find some proof as to the origins of the chest-to-bar standard as set by the man himself. Watch the video and then scroll through the comments. The very first comment is by “Allison NYC” stating; “Wow!--Is that guy doing chest-to-bar pull-ups?” Many of the comments within the thread are in relation to Ronnie’s chest-to-bar pull-ups. (Oh, ...and he also finished the wod first, btw.) Many of the old-school long-time CrossFit’ers also know Ronnie as being the originator of the chest-to-bar pull-up standard. I remember at last years 2008 CrossFit Games, CrossFit Nutrition Guru and good friend, Robb Wolf, upon seeing Ronnie at the Games, said; “Yeah!--The man who set the Pull-Up Standard for the CrossFit Games!”
Embracing this standard has greatly increased our power in the pulling function. Granted, for most of my training and workouts, I don't really do the "butterfly kip" that so many within the CrossFit community have embraced as their standard default pull-up. Even though it yields a faster cycle-time, I feel it doesn't produce near the savage, raw power development of an aggressive thudding of the chest-to-bar that our standard kip does. But I'll touch on that in another post.
...I remember when the chest-to-bar pull-up standard was announced at the 2008 CrossFit Games and many of the competitors were a little thrown off by it. ...Ronnie and I just looked at each other and kinda smiled. :)
Thank you, Ronnie Boose, for pulling me aside that day and telling me to step my game up. I am a better athlete because of it.