*Slate Day!

  • Running? Fast.
  • Squats? Beast.
  • Double unders? Beautiful butterfly.
  • Pull-ups? Fish out of water.

Whelp! “Stage 2” it is.

Frustration hits when you know you can kill “Stage 3” if it wasn’t for your inability to do pull-ups. The frustration is understandable, but these stages have been programmed this way for a reason. The ring row (as seen in stage 2) is a perfect-scaled movement that is a basic body-weight style of Pull-up. The ring row progression is designed to develop your ability/skill to efficiently work up to a pull-up. Master the ring row first and pull-ups will soon follow.

The mechanics that go into the ring row are extremely similar to the pull-up. The ring row is a combination of mechanics and it can be easily defined:

  • Grip
  • Shoulder position (scapular mobility)
  • Organized/Neutral spine


Having a good grip on the rings to develop the Row is almost as important than how you perform the movement itself. Learning to grip effectively is like learning to stand before you walk.

“Pinky knuckle over the bar”: Placing the pinky knuckle above the ring before gripping adds a rotational component that establishes a better shoulder position. With the way your body is built (architecture) “pinky over bar” creates a rotation in the arms that sets the shoulders in external rotation, which means that they are optimally set up to perform a pulling movement.

Shoulder position (scapular mobility)

External rotation in the shoulder means stability and increased integrity of the structure (shoulder capsule). While in keeping with external rotation at the humeral head for stability, the mobility of your scapula (shoulder blade) is much more important when it comes to the actual pulling action.

Motor control of your scapula with in the range of motion of pulling your chest to the rings is the key to unlocking the gate to transitioning to a pull-up. Controlling your scapula in the retraction (pulling) phase and protraction (lowering) phase of the ring row will lead to efficient muscle activation for greater strength in the surrounding muscles. Most people have good control over the mid range of motion of muscular contraction but the control over the long range [start position (chest away) of ring row] and short range [end position (chest level) of ring row] of scapular mobility is typically poor. Creating neural drive with in the weakest ranges of motion by focusing on scapula positions during the ring row will allow appropriate muscle activation for ideal efficiency.

With that being said, ask a coach to assess your strength/mobility of your scapula during a ring row and we will be able to identify any movement issues and efficiently progress you to a proper ring row.

Organized/Neutral Spine

If any members can attest to my “Elements” class on how I drill “organized and neutral spine” they will agree that I am relentless at quizzing them through out each session. It is for an extremely important purpose, and that is safe and effective movement production. When “organized” the flow of energy and power will be efficient when performing the ring row.

Once you have developed the proper grip, shoulder mechanics for the ring row and have the strength to maintain good positions for several repetitions and at different speeds, you can add more complexity to the movement. Increase the load by changing the angle of your body, the more horizontal you are the harder it gets. Even try putting a box under your feet so that when your arms are fully extended your head is horizontally below your feet.

Once you master the row, I promise that you will develop the strength (proper motor control and muscular activation) to get to your first pull-up.



*[Slate day involves a “Slate benchmark” WOD for our members. There are stages (1,2,3,4 &5) that are based on skill level that measure your performance and improvement. Depending on your skill level, the WOD is to be done with-in your stage level. The movements get increasingly difficult through progression of each stage.]