Thursday, January 21, 2016

Equipment Guide - The Pull Up Rack

The Pull Up Rack is the cornerstone of any gym and deciding on which one is right for your space is an important decision.  Below we outline a bunch of the differences between the two types as well as many of the frequently asked questions we get.

Types - There are two main types of pull up racks for the commercial gym; the Free Standing Unit and the Wall Mounted Unit.  Both of them are constructed of the same pieces - poles, pull-up bars and barbell hooks - and both can be transformed from one style into another with just a few simple modifications.  Quite a number of our customers have begun with one type then as their gym grows, expand to the alternate style.  Neither is wrong. Most find that their decision to pick one over the other depends on the layout of their space.  From a space standpoint, even a large 8 Pole Free Standing Rig takes up only 120 Square Feet.  That's not a lot.

  • The Free Standing Pull Up Rack works best in an open space with plenty of room.  22 Feet wide is ideal.  The footprint of the rig is fairly small [6 feet wide by however long] but to make the best use of it, leave a minimum of 8 foot clearance all the way around the rig.  That provides enough room for your athletes to work with a barbell, perform burpees, double unders or box jumps with plenty of room to get back on the rig for pull-ups, toes to bar, etc.
  • The Free Standing Unit also provides the best ratio of Squat Stations to Pull Up Stations too.  If racking the bars is going to be a norm in your facility for strength work, then the Free Standing style is going to be a better bet.  In the same foot print as a Wall Mount Unit, the Free Standing Unit offers twice as many locations for racking the bar.
  • Free Standing also frees up the most wall space in your facility too.  So whether you need it for storage of bumpers, kettlebells, medicine balls or maybe for Wall Ball throws and Handstand work, the Free Standing Rig is advantageous.
  • Larger Class Size - With four sides of the rig exposed at all times, the Free Standing Rig is better for larger class sizes as well.  If athletes are scrambling during a met con to get on and off the pull up rack and onto the next movement, finding a spot on the rig is easiest with this style.
  • Ideal for the narrower space, the Wall Mounted Pull Up Rack is perfect for the startup gym.  It's lower cost still delivers all the same great benefits as it's counterpart and should you desire to change the unit into a Free Standing Rig as your gym grows or should your location change, it can be easily done by adding just a few pieces.
  • Anchoring on the wall can seem like a chore but it's really not that big of a deal.  A few 2x6 timbers anchored into each stud along the length of the rig make the perfect mounting point.  And the added stability of anchoring the rig to the wall also stiffens the installation, too.
  • The Wall Mounted Unit, although not having an opposite long side, makes up for it with the usability of the pull-up bars attached to the wall.  With a Free Standing Unit, it can be a challenge to get inside the middle of the rig if athletes are all around the perimeter.  The Wall Mounted Rig provides an easy spot to grab for athletes on the long side as well as on the pull-up bars attached to the wall.
  • Visibility - one distinct advantage the Wall Mounted Unit has is giving the coach the best view of all the athletes.  With the unit anchored to the wall there is less chance of an athlete being completely hidden from the view of the coach.
  • Even Short on Space it's a Winner - For those that are feeling the squeeze in a smaller space, having the unit against the wall is the best spot.  With a surprisingly small footprint, you won't feel like there is no room left.  And at 6 feet away from the wall, there is plenty of room to get athletes in there for Handstand Pushups or Wall Balls.
  • Ideal for the Startup Gym - coming in at a lower first cost, the Wall Mounted Rig is a perfect first pull up rack for the new gym owner.  And there's nothing to sacrifice in the way of available exercises with the Wall Mount Unit so in the end it's still a win.
Frequently Asked Questions
  1. Should the Pull Up Rack be installed on top of rubber flooring or directly on concrete? Good question.  There is no appreciable difference in rigidity of the rig by installing directly on to the concrete surface versus placing over gym flooring.  And since the overall footprint of the rig is quite small [most are 14x6 or 20x6], it doesn't break the bank to have flooring underneath anyway.  If you are considering leaving the flooring out from under the rig, it can become a dirt trap and a tripping hazard.  Bottom line - install the flooring first then place the rig right on top.
  2. What type of floor anchors do I use and how long should they be?  How about wall anchors too?  If you purchase one of our pull up racks, we furnish all hardware - including floor and wall anchors.  So no worries about choosing what's best - we've done it for you.
  3. What are the most common heights for installing pull-up bars?  Our rig poles provide plenty of adjustment [2" increments] so even if you get everything installed you can always make a change later by removing 6 bolts.  But, we recommend bar heights ranging from 7'4" - 7'11".  The Basic Cross Members in the center of the rig have their bottom bar hanging at 7'6" when installed all the way to the top of the post.  That's ideal for most 5'7" to 5'10" athletes.
  4. Where is the best place to install the rig?  If possible, make sure that the front entryway to your gym is clear and unobstructed with the rig.  That serves a few purposes - it provides good visibility for you and for newcomers.  Also, putting the rig in the center of your space can make it act as a divider.  With a wall mounted pull up rack it isn't as critical as a free standing unit.  But anything that can potentially obstruct your view of your athletes isn't ideal.  Wherever you do place the pull up rack, be sure to allow up to 8 feet all the way around the circumference to make room for barbell work, double unders, box jumps and the like.
  5. What tools do I need to install?  Assuming you've got at least one helper [three installers is ideal], here's what you'll need: a stepladder, an industrial quality hammer drill [anything less and rig install will be 2x], 2 to 3 extra concrete bits [1/2" diameter], an extension cord, a level, adjustable wrenches or a socket set.  Have all this ready to go before you get started.  Making trips to the hardware store after you've started is zero fun.  Remember - all hardware is included with our rack so you'll need tools only.

What is the number one prescribed use for the Pull Up Rack?  Ok, not a trick question here.  It's the pull-up :)  So, you'll want a rig that is super versatile and adjustable for all different heights of athletes.

Height Adjustment - because you've got all heights of athletes that walk in your door, having a ton of versatility in how high your pull-up bars are is important.  Vertical poles that have plenty of adjustment available mean you can raise or lower bars to just the right height.  And here's where that makes a ton of sense - Ever seen or been to a box where athletes are stacking bumpers or plyo boxes underneath their pull-up stations?  It happens all the time and most often because there isn't enough height adjustment in the pull-up bars.  Whenever an athlete grabs a box or a pile of bumpers to help them get to the pull-up bar, that equals equipment you can no longer use for the workout.  In other words...expensive step stools.

Two Pull Up Bars in One - An Offset Pull Up Bar like this one is really two bars in one.  The bar heights differ by six inches so with one of these installed, the shorter athlete can stand inside the rig facing out while a taller athlete could stand outside the rig facing in.  One bar installed with two useable heights.

Roomier Inside the Rig - That outside bar on the Offset Pullup Bar is a full 10" away from the rig poles.  With the aggressive kips that some athletes have, the inside of the rig can become a 'kill zone' ;).  That extra distance that the top bar puts the athletes away from the inside of the rig goes a long way in keeping the inside useable during the workouts.

The Bar Muscle Up - As your athletes make more and more progress, they want new challenges.  The top bar of the Offset Pull Up bar is great for the Bar Muscle Up.  When first learning the movement, it is natural to lean over the bar and with the second bar 10 inches away and 6 inches lower, your athletes stay safe without fear of hitting their head.

Basic Cross Members - The rectangle shaped 'basic' pull-up bars add an amazing amount of rigidity to either style rig but if the two bars aren't spaced far enough apart, that top bar can feel like impending doom to your forehead.  With nearly 12" of inside clearance, problem solved.  And the dog bone center strap wraps the top and bottom bar with more than just a simple seam weld that can be dangerous if it breaks.

Rig Pole Extension KitsSuper high ceilings in a gym space can make it feel more open, cuts down on noise and is great for mounting Climbing Ropes but those high ceilings can present some challenges for hanging Gymnastic Rings.  As one of your most versatile training tools, you'll want to take every advantage of rings have to offer.  With no place to hang them other than on the ceiling, you and your athletes may miss out on using your rings for movements like ring dips, ring rows and ring pushups.  Chances are you'll probably not want to have to drag out the ladder to take rings up and down.  But we've got that little problem solved with our Rig Pole Extension Kits.

Our standard rig pole coming in at 9 feet tall is the perfect height for pull up work and toes to bar but if your athletes are craving Ring Muscle Ups, mounting rings on our Pull Up Rack just doesn't get them high enough.  Our Rig Pole Extension Kits add another 3 feet to any of your pull up rack poles giving you a max height of 12 feet. With poles at that height, you can now mount gymnastics rings high enough for the muscle up, skin the cats and more.  And at that 12 foot height, it's much easier to pull the rings down anytime to use them for ring dips, ring rouser pushups.

Ready to talk to someone about getting a pull-up rack for your gym?  We can help.  Just send us a note here.  Or feel free to give us a call 585-298-1718

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Winter is here, keep your kids active!

Up here in the North East, winter has arrived!  It is cold out, and the snow is falling.  There are many ways for you and your kids to stay active this time of year.  Skiing, sledding, snow shoeing, and building snow men top the list.

But what about the days that it is way too cold to be outside, or you aren't able to take the time to hit the slopes with the kids?

Well, I have a few ideas that can keep the kids moving and interested in staying fit over the long, cold winter.

Have a WOD with the kids:  As you know, it does not take a lot of equipment or time to get a good workout.  Body weight exercises (sit up, push up, squats and burpees come to mind).  You can put together these movements in many different orders and time configurations to keep the kids moving all winter long. 

Add equipment to the basement or the play room:  If you have ever seen kids arrive at a CrossFit Gym, the first thing that they go to is the rings or the ropes hanging from the ceiling.  There is no reason that you can't put a Gymnastic Ring Hanger of a Climbing Rope Hanger in your house for the kids.  (of course, make sure they have adequate padding and supervision and instruction).  These are fun, and can be used for multiple uses.  We have had customers make a Ninja Warrior type bedroom and activity rooms using these hangers, with cargo nets, ropes, rings, peg boards and even swings!  Neighborhood kids come over and have a great time and stay active (better than spending hours in front of the X-Box!).

Possibly you have a garage gym or basement of your own?  Of course you can get your kids on your pull up bar (they may need bands or a box to help them get up there!)  Don't forget the built in games on the Concept2 rower to keep the kids interested and fit in a fun way.

Don't forget your local CrossFit Box.  Many offer CrossFit Kids classes.  I know my daughter loves heading down to Victor CrossFit, in Victor, NY for instruction and a WOD during the week.

Keep the kids busy this winter!  Feel free to contact me any time with ideas, questions or comments.

Thanks for your time

Hammerhead Strength Equipment

Saturday, January 2, 2016

7 Great Workout Timing Patterns to Motivate you in the New Year

When your training routine gets a little stale, one of the first things that comes to mind to freshen it up is changing up movements.  Even the most dedicated can slip into boredom after 4-6 weeks of any program.  But changing movements isn't always the key to keeping motivated.  Any program given enough time will lose it's luster.

Instead of reaching for variation in movements, instead look to apply those same movements and equipment you already own in different timing sequences.  Variation and progress go hand in hand.  But in addition to varying our movements to keep us motivated, sometimes even a change in our timing patterns and rep schemes can have a huge impact. CrossFit® has had a enormous impact on the fitness industry over the past 5+ years with it's somewhat unique approach combining intensity and repetition patterns that makes for impressive fitness gains.

Here's 7 Great Timing Patterns that can bring new life to any old program:

21-15-9: The twenty one, fifteen, nine repetition scheme needs little introduction to those who've had any time in the local CrossFit® Box.  This pattern is most normally used with what is referred to as a 'couplet' or two exercises, but it would work with three if you chose your movements wisely.  The ever popular Fran workout (21-15-9 of Thrusters [95# for men, 65# for women] and Pull Ups) uses this repetition scheme and it normally leaves those who challenge it on their backs when it's over.  With 45 repetitions of each exercise, many would have thought to combine them into 3 sets of 15, but the descending rep count over 3 sets works to give us that mental edge to gut it out those last reps. Add two of your favorite movements together in this timing pattern and you might find yourself looking up at the ceiling too.

EMOM: Every Minute on the Minute.  The EMOM is popular in many strength routines because of it's simple, yet subtle push to keep moving.  This type of rep scheme is most normally used with a heavy weight single exercise and a low rep count which begins with every new minute for a set number of minutes.  The combination of low reps and high weight spikes the intensity while leaving a mandatory, yet short rest period so you can attack the weight at the beginning of thinnest round.  And because we're still under the clock, we're continually motivated to stay focused and move when that new minute begins.  One to two of these a week in your current training program will do wonders.

Ladder Workouts: Ladder workouts are just plain cool.  The concept here is to start the clock and begin with one rep of said movement then resting the remainder of the first minute.  When minute two begins, increase the reps to two, again resting the remainder of the minute.  Each time a new minute begins, increase the rep count by one until you are no longer able to complete the required reps in the minute.  When the required number of reps can't be completed in the time frame, the workout ends.  The Ladder program is most normally used for conditioning rather than strength movements.  Excellent examples of effective Ladder training movements are Burpees, Pushups, Pull Ups, Box Jumps, Knees to Elbows and the like.  The Ladder Workout can be a great finisher to a Heavy EMOM.  If you've just finished up with a EMOM of 3 Heavy Cleans each minute for 10 minutes, give yourself a minute or two break then jump in to a Ladder of Push Ups or Pull Ups.  The first few rounds of lower reps will give you a chance to get some much needed recovery time in.

Rounds for Time:  Racing against the clock can be a great motivator.  And Rounds for Time workouts are great for measuring success when those same workouts are repeated over time.  If you're interested in programming your own Rounds for Time workouts it's better to be a bit more conservative when choosing movements and weights for these training programs at first.  Once you've put a few of them together and have been through a dry-run then you can crank up rounds, reps or weight to match your current abilities.

Time Caps: Getting out of our comfort zone is a great way to break through plateaus and strength barriers.  Although not appropriate for every day of the week, Time Cap Training is a great way to program an especially challenging workout while leaving yourself some measure of respite.  Utilizing the Time Cap Method once every few weeks is a great way to test yourself beyond your current limits without over training.  Examples might include 4 to 5 different movements with low reps for heavy weight and high reps for bodyweight movements.  Ex 20 BW Deadlifts - 20 Ring Dips - 20 Heavy KB Swing - 20 Pull Ups - 20 KB Kayak - Rounds for Time/20 Minute Time Cap.

Tabata:  20 seconds of Work followed by 10 seconds of Rest / 8 Rounds.  This timing method is scientifically proven to bring about serious results.  The trick I've found with this one is to really push yourself to work the entire 20 seconds.  It's easy to see 2 seconds of work time still on the clock and backing off.   Try to work all the way through the 20 seconds.  Ideally, keep the movements relatively short to maximize the benefit here.  Tabata Snatches isn't the best choice, but bodyweight movements such as burpees, push ups, knees to bar, etc have proven to be the better choice for maximizing work periods.  And it's best to have an audible timer for this one as this type of programming is very timing sensitive.  Having that audible alarm will trigger you on/off as opposed to needing to keep your eyes on the clock.

Favorite Song Length:  We've seen this one employed by Wolf Brigade Gym here in Rochester and its a smart idea.  Music motivates us and moving to our favorite music is a great way to mix it up.  Whether you're using ear buds at the local gym or if you're in your own basement, set up 3 to 4 different movements and complete as many rounds as possible before the song ends.  Pick 10 of your favorite songs and couple them with 10 of your favorite [or least favorite] workouts.  Write them all down and record them as your own personal benchmarks.  Better yet, get out the paint set or letter decals and add them to the wall of your gym.  Blackboard paint is cool too.  I think I might do this one.

And here's a few more great tips to keep your training as effective as possible:

Write Stuff Down - All of these training/timing schemes can be a lot of fun and will definitely keep you motivated.  But if you never write any of your progress down then you could fail to reap the benefit of one of the greatest motivational tools of all time - seeing your progress.  Your training book doesn't have to be extravagant.  We've seen some neat ones out on the market for under $30 so if you want to splurge a little here, go for it.  But writing down what you've done is super smart and can keep you on the right path.

Dry Runs and Pre-Planning - To keep you moving efficiently, set up your workout before you get in the gym.  Once you've got it down on paper, set up each of your movement stations and run through a slow dry run to see how the flow goes.  Layout the kettlebell, rings, med ball around the stationary stuff [pull up bar, rower, etc] to make your transitions smooth.  And even swapping and re-ordering movements can dramatically change the intensity.  If you've got semi-heavy deadlifts and box jumps in the same workout, putting them one after the other can really tax your legs.  And that can be a good thing if that's what you're after.

Need even more motivation to make your new training goals come to life?  Share our post with your friends and get one or two of them to join you in the gym.  Having a partner or two is a great way to keep focused as well.