I taught a pull up seminar last week, which was amazing, by the way. So many gains were made by the athletes in a very short period of time. So exciting for me to see!
The consistent issue I saw in these athletes, and all the athletes I work with when coaching gymnastics, is getting into the superman position when kipping. The athlete either cannot get into the position or has pain in the shoulder when getting into the position. Both issues are typically due to the same cause…lack of mobility in the upper back.
I see athletes constantly working on shoulder mobility to increase that, but completely neglecting the upper back. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. Most people don’t associate the upper back as being involved with the shoulder; why would they? Along with that, tightness in the muscles in the shoulder can contribute to this slightly as well, so it is not completely wrong to address the shoulder muscles, but it will not get you 100% where you want to be either.
If working your shoulders is not helping to improve your kip and not giving you the power that you want, you need to start addressing your upper back mobility. This will allow you to get into the superman position with better efficiency and improved quality of motion. Getting in to a better superman position will then give you the rebound effect you are needing in order to make your pull up, toes to bar, or muscle ups easier and more efficient. Improved efficiency = faster times or more reps…meaning PR City!!!
As an added bonus, when you work your upper back to improve your kip, you will also notice all your overhead lifts, overhead squat, and snatches will also get easier and ultimately allow you to lift heavier.
So how do you improve your upper back mobility? Start out with these two drills with a foam roller.
Start by working on these drills daily. After several weeks as you notice improvements, you can back down to 2-3x/week. You will notice the foam roller drills are uncomfortable at first, but the more you work on it, the more mobile your spine will be, and the less discomfort you will notice.
Have further questions about your gymnastics skills? Or need some different drills for upper back mobility? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions.