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Muscle Up Series | Part 2

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Welcome to Part 2 of our Muscle up series!

Last blog,  we looked at ways we can increase our pulling strength in order to gain the baseline level of strength needed for the almighty muscle up.  In this blog, we are going to go through the other half of the movement — which is just, if not, more important: The ring dip.

There are many exercises in functional fitness that can be frustrating and testing for all kinds of athletes. One of them being the dreaded ring dip.

In order for a muscle up to be complete, we must have the ability to not only pull-up, but also press our body weight.

Ring dips are challenging for multiple reasons. The fact that the rings as an instrument alone aren’t completely stable, makes the movement difficult, as you need to work to stabilise the rings before even completing the dip portion.

Scenario: Have you ever look at the workout of the day, seen that ring dips are scheduled in the program, and think to yourself

“Ring Dips? Well, I’m skipping class!”

If this is you — don’t give up!

Instead, continue reading the following steps on how you can learn many different progressions that can assist you to either improving or simply getting your very first ring dip!

Before performing any movement, ask yourself a few questions to figure out if the dip will be an appropriate  movement for you!

  • Are your shoulders and elbows pain free?
  • Are you able to do full range push-ups? (Chest to floor)
  • Do you have any pre or past injuries which would make this movement painful or difficult to complete?

If you can safely see yourself moving forward towards your first ring dip, you can follow through with the following.

Static Holds

A hold can be performed on either gymnastics rings, or on two plyometric boxes.  If a static hold is something which you find quite difficult, start with assisted holds, such as one foot on the floor before trying to hold your body weight freely. When attempting a static hold on gymnastic rings, have a training partner with you to slightly hold the rings at your side while you hold in a static position to get yourself comfortable with holding yourself up for the first time. 

Coach recommendation: Before you jump straight on the rings, we recommend that you should be able to hold for 15-30 seconds on the boxes, before attempting to hold on gymnastic rings.

Stationary Dips/ Box Dips

Before you move forward with the ring dip, it is advised to start with a more stable movement — like the stationary dip.  A stationary dip can be done by using either stationary dip bars or two plyometric boxes. The flat surface of the plyometric boxes allows you to still work through the same range of motion, in which is required for the ring or stationary bar, without needing the strength required to control your balance on a more difficult object surface.

Coach recommendation: We recommend being able to complete 8-10 unassisted stationary dips before  attempting a ring dip.

Tempo Dips

Building time under tension within dips can help build the needed strength for the full range of motion required for the ring dip. Make sure that you adhere to the tempo for both the eccentric and concentric portion of the movements.

A good tempo to start with is @3111. Three seconds on the way down 1 second hold at the bottom of the dip 1 second up and 1 to reset. You can change the tempo to increase the amount of time under tension, until you feel stable enough to begin using a simple tempo of @1111 with a significant amount of strength.

Band-Assisted Ring-Dips

Bands are a fantastic way to see progression made over a certain movement — especially that of a ring dip. After gaining enough strength to transfer to the rings, the bands can be of some assistance when it comes to stability. As you get more comfortable completing quite a high number of reps, with a certain resistance you can continue to work your way down until no band is needed at all!

Tips to remember!!

Form first – The better your form is, the easier each rep will be. The best way to perform each ring dip is to keep the rings close to your body, push your chest forward, and keep your elbows back while you lower down for each rep. Your biceps must contact with the rings for the rep to count.

Scale appropriately – Just like many other exercises, not everyone will be able to Rx straight away. If you’re having trouble with the movement, then scale the exercise. Start off doing dips on a bench, then move onto bar dips when your confidence builds. Once your bar dips are at a solid stage, then try ring dips using resistance bands. Everyone starts somewhere, so enjoy the journey and watch yourself grow!

Practice your holds– It can take a little while to get used to using gymnastics rings. Therefore, it is a good idea to practice your holds as often as possible. Performing static holds for 30 seconds to a minute is a great way to not only work on your stabiliser muscles, but also to get you familiar with using rings. If 30 second holds seems like too long, segment your time into 3 sets of 10 second holds until you feel more comfortable and confident.

Improve Your Mobility – Is it your lack of strength or your lack of mobility within the shoulders that seems to be making ring dips tough? If  your shoulders are feeling rigid, spend 5-10 minutes working on some upper body mobility before your sessions to improve your shoulder position.

Try, and then try again! – Perseverance is everything when it comes to succeeding. Everyone will always have something they find to achieve a little harder than others. The important thing is not to give up.

With time, practice and a bit of perseverance, every exercise can be mastered.

Look out for my next blog where we will be going through the skill component of the muscle up, the transition!

Why Resistance Training is Ruining Your Game.

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There is a common perception that resistance training is ruining your game. For example, in basketball I have heard time and again that doing resistance training ruins my shot. To an extent, I agree with this statement. Not because resistance training is bad, but that fact that the resistance training you are doing is bad.


It’s not your fault. The issue is that you have no guidance in your program so the training you are doing is building size and strength that is not specific to your sport. When you don’t see progress, or hindered performance you stop training in the gym and spending more time on the court or field working on skills for hours and hours. Unfortunately, this can lead to overuse injuries from doing too much of the same thing.


The great news is that here at GW Performance, we have the solution to your problem. Under the guidance of experienced strength and conditioning coaches you will receive a customised program aimed at specifically improving your performance on the court through:


  • Improving mobility
  • Improving movement coordination
  • Increasing strength
  • Increasing power


If you have or are experiencing poor performance from resistance training, stay tuned because over the next few weeks I will be releasing some tips and exercises to smartly improve your on-court mobility and performance.


In the meantime, if you have any questions feel free to email me at or come and see us at GW Performance.

Coach Mitch

CrossFit | Strength & Conditioning | Personal Training

GW Performance

South Yarra

Maximising Upper Back Strength For Pull Ups

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In the previous article Your Pull Up Strength Solution we discussed how to build strength in order to achieve your first strict Pull Up plus tips for improving movement for the long term.

Once you are confidently doing sets of 1-2 reps and you want to go further in your capacity it is time to consider other strategies.

Watch this video to learn more!




Your Pull Up Strength Solution

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Have you been training for a year or longer yet the ability to do a pull-up still stumps you? I know most of you want to the hacks to achieving party tricks like butterfly pull ups and muscle ups, but here’s the truth: you need to the ability to perform an unassisted, strict, dead-hang pull-up that starts with your arms fully extended and finishes with your chin clearly over the bar first.

There are so many benefits to pull-ups that they should be a major staple in any training program. Not only are strict pull ups a prerequisite for more advanced gymnastic movements; it also helps with your rowing, kettlebell swings, and Olympic Weightlifting too. It might literally save your life if you are ever hanging from a cliff and, if you get good enough at them, you may even be able to save someone else’s life, too!

Done correctly, the strict pull up is excellent for developing upper body and core strength. Here are some common issues I see and how to solve them:

Your Strength to Bodyweight Ratio Needs Improvement

You can’t out train a poor diet. If your goals are to improve in bodyweight exercises then you need an increase in relative strength. This means finding an ideal body composition and strength level. It is harder to master pull ups if you’re carrying excess weight. Take a look at your nutrition and make sure that your food intake aligns with your goals.

Strength Progressions for Strength Gains

It is critical that you understand that doing jumping pull ups or banded pull ups during a met-con is not going to be the most effective way to develop your strength. Following a periodised progression of compound lifts and accessory exercises is necessary to get you from hanging to busting out pull ups like a boss.

Whilst we program these progressions semi-regularly, I have found the most effective method for achieving pull up strength is to have a personalised program focussed on your major weaknesses that can be used a few times a week. There are no short cuts here: you have to follow the progressions. Here are just a few examples of what you may receive in such a program:

  • Isometric Holds (top of chin up and hanging tuck)
  • Incline Bench Y-Raises and DB Reverse Fly 3 x 12-15 @ 3111
  • KB Batwings and DB Row 3 x 8-10 @ 2111

Injured or in Need of Movement Pattern Correction

Skipping past strength development and jumping straight into learning kipping and butterfly pull-ups is likely to be a short cut to injury. These advanced dynamic movements ask more of the athlete to stabilise the shoulders through large range of motion.

Of course, prevention is the best medicine. At GW Performance we spend time during every workout completing physical prep and activation. However, if you want truly stable, safe and strong shoulders then you should speak with your coach about completing extra work.

It is common that poor posture and muscle imbalances lead to issues like overuse of upper traps when performing pull ups or progressions. This is where the coaches and our in-house sports med team work together on developing custom accessory programming to get you stronger in the right ways.

If you are suffering from a lot of pain, a shoulder impingement, joint issues, or any other type of upper extremity injury, the solution should be obvious. Seek out the care of a sports medical professional such as a physiotherapist

If you want to implement these tips and optimise your progress then book a time with a coach to go through our “Pull Up Assessment” . Also, make sure you watch my follow up video with the details of the program that has added massive amounts of strength to my gymnastics game!

Reflecting on The Open Season

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For most CrossFitters it is the time of year where many are left wondering “now what?”.

The CrossFit Open has been a test of your fitness, application to training and lifestyle. For some, CrossFit is their chosen sport. Apart from the top 1 percent, the season is over. However, most participants are not doing CrossFit with the goal of making it to the big stage in Carson Madison (see what I did there), or even to Regionals. We are doing CrossFit because we want to get fitter so that we can enjoy life OUTSIDE of the gym more. In case you didn’t know, the heart of CrossFit as a fitness program is achieving longevity and increasing your fitness across a variety of domains for the rest of your life.

So regardless of your goal, if your “season” is over it is time to reflect and then seek direction. The following 5 activities are a map for how you can go from thoughts to conception to action.

Reflect on your purpose: fitness for fun or performance?

More than ever I think it is important for GW CrossFit members to get clarity on CrossFit the Sport vs CrossFit the fitness program. To simplify it, here are two definitions to consider:

Competitor:  someone who is trying to win or do better than all others especially in business or sports: someone who is competing.

Health:  the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; especially freedom from physical disease or pain.

We love informal competition within our gym and we will always support members who are intrinsically motivated to take competition seriously and wish to train for higher levels of CrossFit as a sport. However, I encourage everyone to reflect on whether being a competitor is what is truly important to them or if health is the real priority. As coaches, we want to help you with your individual approach to fitness and ensure that your training, nutrition and lifestyle is aligned with your “why”.


Sit quietly

I wish to encourage all members to set aside time and unplug so that they can reflect effectively. Sitting alone may not be for everyone, so try going for a hike or long walk. Doing this by yourself, without your phone, can be life changing. It will allow you to be present and deload from the emotional and physical stress from The Open and life in general.


Communicate & plan for the future

Once you’ve collected your thoughts share them with your coach and others. Verbalising them leads to listening to yourself and greater awareness. With your coach, you can then plan for action. Having a written plan attached to your SMART goals and the accountability of a coach is the optimal way for you to ensure progress.


Have fun – learn and play with new sports

The final sentence in CrossFit creator Greg Glassman’s classic “fitness in 100 words” is so often ignored. The beauty of our constantly varied functional fitness program is that you are increasing your capacity across so many areas: stronger, more skilled, more coordinated and increased stamina. Get out of the gym and play with these capabilities. You’ll be surprised at how this can be a re-investment back into your training.



A CrossFit Dictionary For Everyone

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If you’re new to CrossFit or you’re just starting to look into it then let us help you out with our unique language!

We’ve compiled a list of terms and acronyms plus their meaning so you will sound like an “OG Firebreather”.

Affiliate – owners of CrossFit gyms.

Air Squat – squat without weights. See definition of squat.

AMRAP – As Many Repetitions/Rounds As Possible. Typically in a specified timeframe.

As Rx’d – As Prescribed. The suggested parameters for a given exercise. Ex. Weight

Ass to Grass/Ground (ATG) – getting as low as possible when doing front, back, or air squats.

Back Squat – squat with barbell on you back. See definition of squat.

Beast – a complimentary term used to describe a badass athlete.

Box – Name of CrossFit gyms.

Box Jump – an exercise where you jump onto and down from an elevated platform

Burpee – Gymnastic move that you drop to the ground, do a push-up, jump into a squat and then jump.

BW – body weight

C&J – Clean and Jerk. Lifting movement of moving weight to rack position (clean) and then moving weight above head (jerk).

C2 – Concept 2 rowing machine

CFT – CrossFit Total. The combined weight of your max squat, press, deadlift.

Chalk – Helps with grip

Chipper – a workout with many reps and many movements. You chip away at it.

Clean  – Motion of moving weight from ground to rack position.

Coach – title of CrossFit trainer.

CrossFit – The Sport of Fitness

CrossFitter – any person who does CrossFit

CrossFit Games – Annual CrossFit competition championship.

CrossFit Journal – CrossFit’s internal publication featuring information on workouts, movements, stories, and news. Annual subscription allows unlimited access.

CrossFit Open – Initial round of the CrossFit Games. Open to any who completes

CrossFit Regionals – regional qualifying competitions for CrossFit Games

C2B – Chest to bar pull up. Pull body up so that chest crosses the bar.

DFL – Dead Effing Last

DNF – Did not finish

DNS – Did not start

DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Double Unders – Two turns of the jump rope per jump.

EMOM – Every Minute on the Minute

Fran Lung – name for hacking cough and lung-burning sensation one sometimes gets after a particularly hard workout.

Front Squat – squat with barbell in the “Rack position”. See definition of squat.

Firebreather – a top-notch athlete

GHD – Glute-Hamstring Developer.

GHR – Glute-Hamstring Raise

Girl Workout – Naming structure by CrossFit HQ for WOD’s

Globo Gym – Term for traditional gyms

Goat – Movement or lift that you are not good at.

Gorilla – Someone who is able to muscle through workouts

GPP – General physical preparedness

Greg Glassman – Founder of CrossFit

Hang Snatch or Clean – Olympic Lift. Barbell starts by hanging from your hips between mid-thigh and knee.

Hero WODs – Naming structure by CrossFit HQ for WOD’s honouring those who have fallen in the line of duty

HQ – Refers to CrossFit Headquarters

HSPU – Handstand Push Up

Humility – Trait every CrossFitter should possess.

K2E – Knees to Elbows. While hanging from pull up bar, raise knees up to touch your elbows.

KB – Kettlebell, a common CrossFit weighted implement

Kipping – a dynamic motion to help use momentum to complete a pull up, muscle up or HSPU

MetCon – Metabolic Conditioning

Muscle Up – A combination of pull-up and ring dip

Overhead Squat – squat with barbell held overhead. See definition of squat.

Paleo Diet – following a diet routine of only eating what paleolithic humans ate. Diet excludes any grains and processed food.

PB – Personal Best

Pull Up – Bar is held with palms facing you (supinated grip). Pull body up to where chin crosses the bar. 

Pistol – One-legged squat.

Power Clean – Olympic lift. Barbell starts on the ground and end in the rack position. See definition of clean.

Power Snatch – Olympic Lift. Barbell starts on the ground and ends up overhead. See definition of squat.

 PB – Personal Best. Highest number of reps or fastest time attained at completing a specific WOD.

Pukie the Clown –  The need to vomit after a workout.

Push Jerk – while holding barbell in rack position, slightly squat down and lift weight above head.

Push Press – while holding barbell in rack position, lift weight above head. 

Rack Position – Bar resting on you collar bone and anterior deltoids support by hands.

Rep – A repetition or instance of a given exercise.

Rest Day – a necessary component for recovery

RM – Repetition maximum. The most you can lift for a given number of repetitions.

ROM – Range of motion

RomWOD – Mobility and stretching work

Rope Climb – staple CrossFit workout.

Score – denotes number of total reps completed during workout

Set – a group of repetitions

Snatch (SN) – Olympic lift. Hang Snatch, Power Snatch, Squat Snatch

Squat – feet shoulder width apart with feet angled slightly outward. Keeping upper body rigid, bend at the knees lowering upper body in straight line.

Squat Snatch – Olympic lift. Barbell starts on the ground and ends up in the overhead squat position.  See definition of squat.

Stabilise the Midline – Controlling the muscles around the spine to make it stable and strong during exercise

Tabata – A protocol of 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. Named after Dr. Tabata.

Thrusters – Hold barbell in rack position, drop down in squat position with barbell in rack position, return to standing position in exploding motion, pushing the barbell over you head.

Toes to Bar (T2B) – while hanging from a pull up bar, bring toes up to bar.

Touch and Go (TnG) – No pausing between reps

Unbroken – UB. Perform all workouts in a row or start over at the beginning.

Wall Balls – Using a medicine ball, drop into a front squat position and stand up using the momentum to push the ball to hit a target on the wall.

WOD – “Workout of the Day.” Series of exercises or number of reps for a timed workout

A quick guide to better HSPU

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With only two events remaining in the 2017 CrossFit Open it is very likely that we will see Handstand Push Ups (HSPU) soon. For some of you this will be quite daunting. For the more experienced athlete, very efficient HSPU can be a separator.

There are two variants of the HSPU: strict and kipping. The following tips will help you establish prowess in both.

  • Establish a good base: strength & stability first

It is very important that we have strict movement in our gymnastics ability before we start adding dynamic momentum to the exercise. By having an adequate base of strength and quality movement patterns we ensures that the shoulders can handle kipping and that we are strong enough to control our movement rather than just dropping from the top of the movement.

If you do not have the strength to perform Strict HSPU yet, then various static holds and pressing drills will need to be progressively overloaded to obtain the required capacity. For example, progressively building the barbell strict press, dumbbell Z-press, hollow & arch positions plus plenty of handstand holds on the wall would form a good foundation for obtaining your first HSPU.

  • Tripod Position

Correct hand and head position at the bottom of the HSPU is often misunderstood. Your hands make the base of a triangle. Your head makes the top of the triangle. Don’t worry too much about how wide your hands are as long as you can see your hands while in the tripod position. Keep your forearms vertical, stacked on top of your wrists.

  • The Kip

Once you’ve progressed from Strict HSPU to Kipping HSPU there are a few keys that will make it fast and easier to get through higher volume of reps. First, think of the Kipping HSPU like a Push Press: you are using the moment from the hips to drive yourself up. The timing of the push from the arms needs to be synchronised with the drive (kip) of the hips. Set up about 30-35cm away from the wall in your tripod position. Bring your knees to your elbows and establish a flat back. Keep your head and eyes neutral (keep your gaze here as you complete your HSPU). Explosively drive your hips up as you simultaneously extend your arms into the handstand. While exploding your hips up, squeeze you chest through to been in a full lockout.

Start by implementing these tips and practice the progressions each time you see HSPU in a WOD. Remember, strict BEFORE kipping. We will have a follow up video with more cues on how to become more efficient with Cycling Kipping HSPU soon!

Coach Leigh

CrossFit | Strength & Conditioning | Personal Training

GW Performance

South Yarra

Mobility Monday | Ep10 | Half-kneeling rec-fem stretch

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Today’s episode will be covering one of my favourite stretches for knee, and lower back pain.


  • The quads are categorised into four separate muscles; vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, rectus femoris and vastus lateralis.
  • Rec fem (rectus femoris) is critical to keep mobile as it crosses the knee and hip aiding in knee extension and hip flexion.


  •  As mentioned in the video, keep the glutes locked on and don’t compensate with lack of hip extension with lumber extension.
  • Keep tension through your “core” which will also help resist against excessive extension through the spine.


I hope this easy and effective stretch can help you to keep performing happily and healthy!

Dylan Jones

CrossFit | Strength & Conditioning | Personal Training

GW Performance

South Yarra



The Open Guide – Mindset

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There are many factors that contribute to athletes’ success. First and foremost, you must be in the right mindset to compete and achieve your full potential. If your mental game is off or if you lack planning then even an Event that has your unique strengths in it could go wrong.

Here are some tips to help you best prepare and stay focused for each event.

Warm up your mind

Whether you call it meditation, visualisation or mental priming you should set aside 10 minutes to get your head in the game. Most elite athletes promote  the use of visualisation and can endorse its help with their performance. Visualising can help athletes who struggle with self doubt, fear of failure, competition nerves, etc. It is one of the most under used tools in competitive sports. Combine this with deep diaphragmatic breathing and your nervous system will be firing on all cylinders before that call of “3-2-1-GO!”.

Focus on you and your effort.

There isn’t anything you can do to control what your opponent is doing in a competition. The only thing you can control is yourself and how you tackle an event. Be aware of your competitors, particularly in the dying moments of an event, to help you push for the final few reps. However,  satisfaction will come from the knowledge that you competed with maximum intensity and a well executed plan. Know your pace, stay in your lane and push the limits when the time is right.

Stay away from the chalk bucket and water bottle.

Too many athletes will use the chalk bucket or a drink as a reason to take a break. Trust me, you don’t need it. View going to the chalk as an opportunity for another athlete to pass you by. Prepare yourself by chalking your barbell, pull up bar or dumbbells pre-event. Have a towel to keep your arms & hands dry so there’s less need for chalk. Make sure you are hydrated well before the workout. If you truly need something then keep it close by (e.g. chalk on a J-hook under your pull up station) in order to keep transition time fast.

Positive postures

Do you like to rest with you hands on their knees, head looking down at the floor while you gasp for air? Do you like to tell the whole gym mid-workout about how hard you’re finding it? If so, think about the time that you’ve performed your best. It doesn’t even have to be fitness related. Were you whinging about something then? The moments in which we accomplish maximum potential are going to be when we are in a positive mental and physical flow state. So rather than wasting your energy on  negative drama,  when you need to take a short rest or miss a rep, practice standing tall, keeping your eyes open and taking big, calming breaths. You’re much more likely to maintain focus and get back to executing your game plan.


By applying just these four things, you will see a major improvement in your performance!

We hope you’ve enjoyed our Open Guide.

Good luck out there. Whatever your purpose is for participating in the Open I hope it is fulfilled.

Coach Leigh

CrossFit | Strength & Conditioning | Personal Training

GW Performance

South Yarra