Posts Tagged ‘Working Wounded’

Developing Upperbody Gymnastic Strength: Recon Ron and Volume Training

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Feb 14 2011

Gaining upper body strength is really easy, here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • Stay below your muscle failure threshold
  • Practice often
  • Listen to your joints
  • Track your progress to see what works


The two basic progressions which we’ve seen work really really well are “Recon Ron” and Volume Training.

Recon Ron Pullup Program

We came up with Volume Training based off poor memory and bad research of the Recon Ron Pullup Program (RRPR). RRPR was a technique I was familiar with from my time in the Marine Corps. It is used widely because it takes a very small amount of time, and works well.

RRPR couldn’t be simpler in execution:

  • Pick a level on the progression that is challenging, but not impossible: meaning you are staying below muscle failure.
  • Perform the progression once, 5-7 days per week, allowing yourself 30 seconds to 2 minutes rest between sets.
  • Take a rest day if/when you’re elbows, shoulders, etc, start to get inflamed.


Like everything, test and retest.  Do some shoulder warmup, then crank out one max set.  Stick with RRPR for 4 weeks, be consistent, then retest.  Guaranteed you’ll see big gains.

Use RRPR for anything: Pullups, Pushups, Handstand Pushups, Ring Dips, Muscle Ups.

Volume Training

We’ve found Volume Training an equal tool for improving upper body strength.  Advantages of Volume Training versus RRPR are:

  • Better recovery because of decreased frequency
  • Flexibility of programming, i.e., you can do other movements within your Volume Training
  • Flexibility of modalities, i.e., you can use this for any movement


Volume Training is also an easy way to track your progress. Even if you only get 1-2 more reps every session, at least you’re moving forward. One of the biggest issues we see with athletes and improvement in these movements is psychological. They practice so infrequently, and nearly never do a One Set Max (1SM), so they are easily discouraged by their perceived lack of progress.

Here’s how Volume Training works:

  • Perform a set every minute on the minute, there should be some rest within each minute
  • Perform 10-20 minutes (so that’s 10-20 sets)
  • Ensure that your first set and last set differ by no more than two reps
  • Do not do more than one upper body movement per session.

So a common example of a stand along upper body Volume Training session would be 20 minutes of Handstand Pushups. A typical progression over a few weeks would look like this:

We’ve seen significant progress with 10-15 minute sessions as well, so if you are strapped for time, this is a great way to build upper body strength in a short period of time.  Most athletes can only handle two session of upper body Volume Training per week.  Again, listen to your joints, but practice frequently.

“But I don’t have any Pullups/Handstand Pushups/Ring Dips/etc!”

This is where understanding general strength and conditioning comes into play, namely the role of eccentric and isometric exercises in building concentric strength.

Isometric exercises should be the baseline. Ensure that your athlete:

  • has a handstand
  • can hold the top of a ring dip
  • can hold the top of a pushup
  • can hold a flexed arm hang


If then can do these movements, then they can use them as the basis for their Volume Training.  Simply set a goal time per minute and try to hold that exercise within that goal time by five seconds.

For folks with nearly zero upper body strength, we can assist them with the following exercises, but the principal of goal time per minute, delta no greater than five seconds still apply:

  • Overhead barbell hold
  • Band assisted ring hold
  • Knee pushup or elevated pushup hold
  • Band assisted flexed arm hang


If athletes are capable of the isometric movements, then we can begin work on eccentric movements.  These are commonly called “negatives”.  Start at the top of the movement, and move through the eccentric range of motion taking 3-5 seconds depending on the length of the movement (i.e., a pushup ROM is shorter than a pullup ROM).

Key to the eccentric movements is going beyond the normal ROM whenever we can.  While this is difficult for Pullups and Ring Dips, this is easy for Handstand Pushups and Pushups.

Simply place a raised object (plates, blocks, parallettes, etc) under the athletes hands and have them perform a negative to the floor.


So remember, you are practicing the movements, not trying to puke in your shoes. So stay below muscle failure. These can and should be challenging, but if you burn out too fast, then MISSION FAIL!

Stick to the plan and you’ll be sure to see big progress quickly. Even for top level athletes, this is a great tool. What better way to feel confident going into a HSPU WOD then knowing that you can do 40 unbroken HSPU while the nearest competitor can probably do 20 on a good day.

Note however, that you’ll want to decrease the reps and add a load on many of these movements as you gain mastery. If you are getting to 3-5 reps per minute for 20 minutes, it’s time to decrease the reps and time and add weight. So take it down to 1-2 reps per minute for 10-15 minutes and add some weight: weighted ring dips, weighted pullups, weighted HSPU, weighted Muscle-Ups, etc. Again, listen to your joints, test and retest.

This is a great way to gain proficiency or gain dominance. Good luck!

For more details, check out “Volume Training for Goats” on the Crossfit Journal.

Working Wounded – LeeAnn and Lisa

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Jul 13 2010

Reference WODs 1-5.

General Guidance: If you want, you can cut the rest time between sets to get a small METCON dose.

A1. 4×3 Handstand Pushup Negatives @ 0050. Hands underneath the shoulders, roll out, walk back up. Let me know if you feel comfortable with kicking over to a Handstand and we’ll adjust these next time. Right now I don’t want you to kick up and mess up your foot.
A2. 4×10 Assisted Pistols (on rings)

4 Rounds for time:
Row 400m
15 Suitcase Deadlift, 70 lbs (kettlebell)

For Time:
Kettlebell Swing, 53 lbs

A1. 5×5 Ring Dip Negatives @ 0040
A2. 5×20 seconds Assisted Back Lever

B1. 4×5 Pullup Negatives, 5010. Meaning you are doing 5 sets, 3 reps, with a 5 second negative, 0 seconds at the bottom, 1 seconds coming back up (jump back up), and 0 seconds at the top.
B2. Single Leg Hip Bridge 4×5 (each leg)

C1. 4×10 V-Situps
C2. Back Ext 3×5.

A. “Death by Dumbbell Press” @ 30 lbs

B1. 5×5 Pistols. Set up three 45 lbs plates, try to sit down to those and come back up.
B2. 5x? Ring Dips. Do just below your max each set.

C1. 3x? Front Lever. Grap the pullup bar, bring your body up as high as you can. Minimum time is 5 seconds.
C2. 3×10 Glute Ham Raise

WOD 10
5 Rounds For Time:
10 High Bar Back Squat, 85 lbs
10 DB Push Press, 30 lbs

Working Wounded – LeeAnn and Lisa

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Jun 29 2010

Lisa has been working for a while with a busted foot, LeeAnn has as well, but has been subbing WODs.

I want them both to do as many of the WOD Classes as they can while subbing movements they can’t do, but when they can’t pull that off, just do one of the below WODs after their prescribed warmups.

I need both of you to post your results of each WOD to comments so I can track how hard/easy these are for you and if you’re having any joint issues.


A1. 5x? Flexed Arm Hang, max each set
A2. 5x? Ring Supports with wrist out, max each set.  Jump to the top of a ring dip, turn wrists out slightly, hold.

B1. 5x10x70 Suitcase Deadlift
B2. 5x10x25 Seated Single Arm DB Press.  Hold two dumbbells, press one at a time, 10 reps total.

C1. 4×10 V-Situps
C2. 4×10 Superman


A1. 5×5 Ring Pushups
A2. 5×10 Pistols w/ ring assist.

B1. 5×3 Ring Dip Negatives @ 0040
B2. 5×20 seconds Assisted Back Lever

C1. 3×10 Knees to Elbows
C2. 3×3 Pullup Negatives @ 0050


A1. 5×5 Bench Press
A2. 5×3 Ab Wheel

B. “Death by Dumbbell Press” @ 30 lbs

C. 3×10 seconds Bar Front Lever.  Get as high as you can, keep body planked, this should be hard.


A1. 5x? Flexed Arm Hang, max each set
A2. 5x? Ring Supports with wrist out, max each set.  Jump to the top of a ring dip, turn wrists out slightly, hold.
Compare to WOD 1.

B1. 3×5 Ab Wheel @ 2040
B2. 3×5 <a href=””>Back Extension</a> @ 2040

C1. <a href=””>3×10 Glute Ham Raise</a>
C2. 3×10 V-Situps


A1. 5×5 Ring Row @ 1040
A2. 5×5 Pushups with 45 lbs plates under hands

B1. 5×5 Lying Hip Ext aka Bridge
B2. 5×15 second Assisted Back Lever

C1. 5×2 Pushups with 45 lbs plates under hands.
C2. 5×5 second L-Sit

Working Wounded – Mark P.

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
May 18 2010

-Running Faster
-Deadlifts, Squats, Power Cleans
-No Dips, Pullups, Overhead
-KBs, Double Unders, Sumo Deadlift High Pull

Running Baseline:
Run 800m
Rest 5 minutes
Run 400m
Rest 5 minutes
Run 100m
Compare to Running Baseline Day 1.


For Time:
21 KB Swing, 53 lbs
100 Double Unders
42 Squats
15 KB Swing, 53 lbs
75 Double Unders
30 Squats
9 KB Swing, 53 lbs
50 Double Unders
18 Squats


Power Clean

10 Rounds
Run 100m for time.

DB Front Squat, 55 lbs
Hip Extension
Run 1 Lap (between each round)
Compare to Post.

Post all results and questions to comments.

Working Wounded – Steven S.

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
May 02 2010

[@90% Perceived Intensity]
5 Rounds
30 Single Arm KB Swing (eye level), 35 lbs
Run 400m

A1. 4x20x70lbs DB Front Squat
A2. Skill work on Box Jump. Attempt to “hop” down off the 20′ box and immediately get back to the top with as little time spent on the ground as possible. Should be 4 sets of around 10 reps. Form more important than intensity.
B1. 3x10xMax Weight DB Overhead Lunge
B2. 3×10 Glute Ham Raise
C. 3xMax Time, Single Arm Flexed Arm Hang. Jump to the top of a pullup with your good arm, hold for max time. Note the time in seconds.

5 Rounds
AMRAP in 3 Minutes
10 Suitcase Deadlift, 115lbs
10 DB Clean, 55 lbs
Rest 1 Minute

This should get you through to Friday, 7 May. I’ll program again then.