Horizontal Pulling Uncommon (Therefore Necessary)

Fewer things became more obvious in the fitness industry during quarantine than the quickness that we deferred to the push up as a trusted, accessible piece of fitness choreography. I think I was tagged in about 25,000 push ups in various Instagram challenges. If I said, “Quick, you’ve got 10 seconds to start doing fitness” most folks would either take off running or drop and give me twenty. There are implications to this fact and I’d like to share what this tendency means for us. 

Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with the push up. I’m just here to make a point that because of accessibility and biomechanics, humans are generally underdeveloped in the upper back, specifically the muscles and capacities that look like horizontal pulling. Furthermore, while the pull up is a skill most Americans don’t have, I’d venture to bet that most Americans have accumulated push ups. Of the Americans that are generally physically fit, the overhead lifts and pull up represent a significant amount of development in vertical pushing and pulling capacities.

This is all to say that it’s less obvious to develop the upper back with strong pulling mechanics. Generally speaking you’ve got to do that on purpose. Mathematically, I think we’d be hard pressed to find an average American who’s done more repetitions in horizontal pulling exercises than they’ve done push ups, bench press, and other anterior dominant development. Meanwhile, your local airport is crawling with people with upper back weakness and a lack of training in pulling mechanics. 

What’s the point? The point is this:

Left to our own devices, we’re going to be underdeveloped in the pulling capacities of the upper body. 

This is why many collegiate and professional athlete weight rooms have semi-dogmatic strategies like, “We will pull to press in a 3:1 ratio.” Why? they are attempting to do the strength equivalent of the “Lord’s work” and righting our wrongs, so to speak. If anything, this is a call to action to embrace the bent over row. It’s an advocacy for the inverted row, ring row, and the countless other exercises that aren’t seen in the mirror that will improve your performance and make shoulders stable again.

9/10/20 WOD


[Meet at Anderson Park]


[Meet at Pan Pacific Park]


3-Position Pause Eccentric Deadlift

Then, complete 6 rounds for reps of:
In :90..
12/10 Cal Row/Bike
12 Pull Ups
Max KB Swings (70/53)
-Rest 3:00-