Remedial Upperbody Strength Training

Posted by Brian PCF
Feb 06 2012

For folks that can’t seem to get improvement with Pullups or Pushups, some tools that we’ve seen work again and again are:

1) Eat Paleo

It’s strange that we are a gym that’s going to tell you: working out isn’t as important as eating right.

You can literally come in 2-3 times per week, just have fun with the WODs, eat strict Paleo, and see amazing results.

If you really want to see improvement though and you’re not eating Paleo, you’re not going to see anywhere near the improvement of the folks that are eating Paleo.

2) #justshowup.

We do a TON of gymnastic strength in our warmups. Everyday we’re doing at least 4×3 Pull and 4×3 Push. We vary this based on the volume in the previous days, but overall we’re building some seriously strong gymnastic skills in the warmup.

3) For Pullups: Recon Ron

The baseline for our more flexible Volume Training template, Recon Ron is a great way to develop the pullup. You can view the baseline Recon Ron program here.

For folks that don’t have their first pullup yet, you’ll want to do 5 sets of Flexed Arm Hang. The goal should be a relatively even amount of time for each set, with 1-2 minutes rest in between sets.

Sets might start off with one second per round. That’s fine, keep at it.

4) 100 Pushups

While Recon Ron will do the trick for this as well, if you want to keep it simple, the 100 Pushup program has shown us some terrific results.

Bev L., though a relative newcomer to Crossfit, now holds our Box Record on Murph at 38:21, which she credits to first, just showing up, and second, to her dedication to the 100 Pushup program.


A big key here is to not overtrain. This is for folks that are either a) not coming in very often, or b) are coming in often, but can handle the extra volume and understand when to drop this in and when not to drop this in. So this is not for most people, and as always, consult a coach!

You can also post a question to comments.

3 Responses

  1. Tim (not Ryan) S. says:

    Thanks for this, my lack of upper body strength is causing me a lot of frustration lately. I’ve already got 1 and 2 down, but have a couple of questions about 3 and 4.

    1) 100 pushup program at home won’t be a problem, but I don’t really have anywhere to do pullups outside PCF. Can I work flexed arm hangs and eventually Recon Ron into the warmup, or should I do that as programmed and find another way?

    2) Is it advisable to sub overhead squats on snatch days or presses instead of jerks to help focus on strength? For example, I can get under 125lb in the snatch, but I can’t stand it up. Would OHS work help me there, or is there something else I’m missing?

    Loving the oly cycle, by the way. I’m a lot more comfortable with the lifts now, even if I can’t lift all that much.

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