Whether you’re Tia Clair-Toomey (the fittest woman in the world for the second year running) or just starting your second month of CrossFit® - we all have weaknesses that need to be worked on.
But what does it actually mean to “work on them”? Just write your goal to “get a pull-up by the end of the year” in your journal, and hope that it magically happens? Are you hoping that the daily WOD will incorporate double unders enough for them to finally “click” for you?
Nope. You’ve got to attack it. You have to make it a goal to conquer pull-ups, muscle ups, double unders, cardio - whatever it is that is bringing down your workouts, or hindering you from Rx’ing. You need a plan.
For WODprep athlete Amy, it was bar muscle ups. And as a teacher and mom of two boys, she could easily still be standing under that bar, wishing for a BMU. Wishing she could string them together, or that her chicken wing wasn’t still lingering.
But that’s not the case. She pointed at her weakness of BMU’s at the beginning of this year, made it a priority to conquer them, and started following a plan. She got to work. And now she can string together several unbroken. Since starting CrossFit® a few years ago, she’s gone from not being able to do a single sit-up, to being able to do muscle ups.
This is her story...
As a kid, Amy was both a competitive cheerleader and a runner. Post-college, she felt something was missing from her life, yet couldn’t quite lay her finger on what it was. She got married and had two children, and still found herself trying to fill that void.
"The second I walked through the doors of my CrossFit ® gym, I knew that void was about to be filled. I started CrossFit® with no sit-ups and couldn’t even do a single under! I had just had two c-sections, and it was time for my body to start to recover."
Fast forward to current day - Amy is a beast in the gym! She’s been knocking down Rx skill after Rx skill and conquering her weaknesses, with her oldest son even attending CrossFit® Kids classes twice a week as well.
As a mom of two and a first-grade teacher, the family’s schedule is often hectic. Yet Amy thrives off the busyness of life, and has shifted from making it to the gym four days a week, to now six.
"I prioritized this because it is a top goal of mine outside of raising my sons, Sean and Liam. I have a goal book/planner where I write down both my short-term and long-term goals. These goals ARE the reason why I show up to the gym each day."
Like a lot teachers, Amy finds herself putting in extra hours after work for grading, etc. Yet she makes a mindful point to stop at a certain time so that she can make time for herself.
"I could go on alllllll day and night about how CrossFit® has changed me. But here is the biggest reason: CrossFit® saved my life. Literally. I found my passion, I got rid of old habits and the bad in my life, and refocused all of my energy on being a better athlete."
Amy started following WODprep at the beginning of 2017 to pick up movement tips and coaching pointers as she progressed as an athlete. When the Bar Muscle Up Mastery program re-opened enrollment at the beginning of this year, she decided it was time to commit.
I knew Ben was amazing based off his hints and tips for the Open, so I didn’t have any hesitations with joining. I fully believed his program would help! Before I started the program, I had a few random bar muscle ups, with a giant chicken wing. At that point about one out of every five attempts were successful, and that was only after putting in 100% effort. I would be exhausted from trying to basically pull up to the bar and chicken wing over!
She jumped head first into the programming and put in a ton of hard work, which she quickly saw pay off. By week three, she had gotten rid of her chicken wing by reprogramming her muscle memory through specific drills we teach in the course. Today, Amy can string five BMU’s together unbroken, and continues to make progress.
"There are times when I still have to go back to the basics so that I can maintain good form. Bar Muscle Ups are now my favorite movement to do!"
We tell all of our new athletes that consistency is key when it comes to working on new skills. If you put the time in and work hard, you will see the results. Which is exactly what Amy did.
"The coaches and the athletes giving advice and cheering each other on was one of my favorite parts of BMU Mastery! The coaches are all so responsive and also have become friends. If you’re sitting on the fence, do it! It’s a small cost for a huge reward."
Amy credits drills like standing transitions and jumping muscle ups to help get rid of her long-standing chicken wing. These drills also opened her eyes to the power and strength that comes from the hips. Once you unlock the power of your hips, bar muscle ups become so much easier!
As we normally suggest, she reserved three days out of her week (roughly 15-20 minutes per session) to work specifically on the Bar Muscle Up Mastery programming, in addition to her five regular days of CrossFit®, and another day dedicated to running and/or hiking.
On top of her impressive skill improvements this year, Amy lost a total of 16 lbs this past spring working with RP Strength. Fat loss paired with muscle gain set her up to achieve her first strict ring muscle up last month.
"It was super sloppy, but I am now training for better form, strength, and transition! I have done quite a few since beginning the muscle up journey, but they are NOT easy (I have also failed some). My goal is to string together two or three by the end of this year (and then move into kipping RMU’s)."
Keep your eyes on Amy, because further down the road (she’s thinking about 5-10 years) she has dreams of being a Masters Regional athlete. She even recently hired a personalized coach to help her along this journey.
"It is a huge huge goal and I am determined to work my ass off to get there. If I don’t make it, I will know I put forth my entire effort to get wherever I’m at! I also want to compete locally and have a blast doing it."
A mom, teacher, and one of the hardest working athletes we know - Amy has a fantastic story, one that only reinforces Mat Fraser’s popular phrase: “Hard Work Pays Off.” #HWPO. Find your weaknesses, work on them, and progress will follow.
A big thanks to Amy for sharing her story with us, I hope she inspires you guys as much as she inspired our WODprep team. Be sure to comment below and leave Amy some love!
Got questions about bar muscle ups? Don’t know where to start? We have a free guide for that.
Working on another skill and feeling stuck? Comment below, or send us an email to [email protected] and one of our coaches will get back to you ASAP.
We want to help you fill in those weaknesses, just like Amy 🙂
Kait is the Editor-in-Chief for the WODprep blog, a long-time CrossFit athlete, and lover of pretty much all things fitness. She's been on the WODprep team now for three years, and received her CF-L1 in 2017. She lives in Annapolis, MD with her husband and two huskies.
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