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Be Strict About Your Strict Movement

If you’ve ever watched gymnastics, we imagine you were impressed with the women’s parallel and men’s high bar events. Watching the gymnasts spin and flip around bars is amazing. However, what we don’t see is all of the strength work that goes into being able to do those routines.

This week, we are talking about the proper progression for gymnastics. While we may never spin around the bar like a gymnast, the same principles apply when we are developing something like a pullup.

In our last post, we listed the three step progression for all gymnastics movements: mobility, strict, dynamic. That “strength” that is needed to flip around the bar, that comes from developing strict strength

Strict Strength

Simply put, strict strength is the ability to move your body through space using only the muscles require for that movement. There is no swinging, no building momentum, everything other than the working muscle stay static.

For the purposes of this article, we will use the most common example of strict vs. dynamic movement, the pullup. A strict pullup is performed when the athlete hangs from a pullup bar with arms locked out. Next, while maintaining a tight body position, the athlete uses primarily her arms and back to pull her chin over the bar.

Strict to Prevent Injury

A primary reason we focus on developing strict strength first is to prevent injury. There are multiple other reason. However, for those of us who are trying to fitness, like CrossFit, to be healthier, injury prevention is top on the list.

When we develop strict strength, we do more than just build strength in our primary muscles. We also build strength in those little supportive muscles around our joints. Have you ever started shaking while trying to hold yourself still? That’s because those little muscles are tired. Building strict strength builds up those little muscles. That way, when our primary muscles get tired, we know those little muscles will still support our moving joints.

Developing Strict Strength

So, how do we develop this strength? Unfortunately, that is movement dependent, so there isn’t a one-size fits all answer. However, when we are looking at pullups, we start with ring rows. From there, we develop into static holds and eccentric negatives. As strength develops, we move into supported strict pullups. As we start to remove the support, the process repeats itself by going back to static holds and eccentric negatives to continue to increase strength.

It is only once we have developed the strength to do strict pullups that we start to make them dynamic. We will cover dynamic movement in our next article.

We focus first on mobility. When we are able to move the joint through a full range of motion, we next focus on strengthening the muscles around the joint. Only then can we start to “cool” stuff like kipping pullups.