Journey Series: Butterfly Pull-ups


I’m starting a journey series where you can follow along in my efforts to achieve short term goals. I’ll share the resources I use for help and share the tricks I learn along the way.

This Journey will feature my road to getting proficient in butterfly pull-ups. At four years in I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I have a hard time stringing 4 butterfly’s together. I can easily knock out ten normal kipping pullups but butterfly’s aren’t something I’ve ever focused on. So I finally said enough is enough.

I set a goal of getting a solid 20 butterfly pullups in a row by January. This would be just in time for our next competition, Knockout in the Ok. Here’s my strategy this week.

I figure this skill, like most gymnastic skills comes down to mainly 3 aspects; strength, mobilty, and movement.

STRENGTH: My guess is the heavier my 1-rep max pull-up is, the easier time I’ll have with kipping and butterflys. My strategy here is basic strength training. I do 5-7 sets of weighted pull ups at 5 reps each set. At this point sometimes my body is all the weight I need. My goal is to do this once a week for the first couple weeks. My coach also sent me a link to Dr. Dan Pope’s blog. He suggests doing strict, and progressively larger butterfly circles.


MOBILITY: I’ve spent a lot of time on Mobility Wod’s YouTube channel. Kelly Starret is a genius when it comes to mobility and prepping for movements. My goal here is to do these things daily.

MOVEMENT: The best way to get better at a thing is to do that thing right? Prior to this week I couldn’t do 1 proper butterfly pull-up. Well I made a little trek over to Chris Spealler’s #Weekly Geek videos on his website. Granted he and I have very different body types, Spealler is a technician when it comes to pull-ups. After a few days of flailing around in my garage rig, I finally have something that resembles a butterfly pull-up.

With new wind in my sails this week I’ve been doing 10 min emoms with 5 butterfly’s every min. At first it was more like 4 each min but by Saturday I’m feeling better with 6. It’s not a lot in a row but after ten minutes I’ve done about 60 pull-ups.

This weeks take aways.

This first real breakthrough I had this week was learning to use my hips to gain height. At first I was just trying to swing my legs forward and just muscle my way towards the bar with my arms. After stumbling on a video from Crossfit Jaakarhu in Texas, I realized that the little “hip pop” at the last second can really save my arms from doing all the work.

My second take away is more of an experiment at the moment. After a couple of frustrating sets that were shredding my hands I tried using a suicide grip.


As a guy with big hands I never had an issue getting my fingers around the bar, but I saw how a lot of women used the suicide grip. I tried it and I don’t know why but I was able to get a few more reps in a row.



Hands are getting pretty shredded. I feel like a brand new Crossfitter again. After a 10 min emom it’s all I can do to hang from a bar.

I also noticed that if I’m not super careful with my movement, I hurt my shoulders. A tip from Spealler would be to keep elbows down rather than back at the top of the movement.


Next week.

Strength: I want to increase my reps on strict pullups to 6-7 reps a set.

Mobility: Banded Everything! I’m focusing on getting my shoulders into the positions they need to be in for all the butterfly motion.

Movement: Spealler has broken down his #weekly geek series into 3 weeks of help.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. fitnessgrad says:

    This is wonderful, I like it. I hope that you reach your goal, in general, I find pullups to be a hard exercise, no matter the kind for myself, mainly because women have less upper body strength compared to men but also because I need to practice them. I should have this be a goal of mine in general and I appreciate your sharing of the videos you have watched because I want to look into them myself.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the kind words. I’m here to answer questions if you have any too

      Liked by 1 person

      1. fitnessgrad says:

        Thank you for the support, your blog post provide many answers to questions I may have had 🙂 especially this recent one on the pull ups!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey thanks for the link


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