E3 – Strict Strength Pre-requisites for CrossFit Gymnastics with Pamela Gagnon

E3 – Strict Strength Pre-requisites for CrossFit Gymnastics with Pamela Gagnon

E3 – Strict Strength Pre-requisites for CrossFit Gymnastics with Pamela Gagnon

On episode 3 of the Performance Plus Programming Podcast, gymnastics expert Pamela Gagnon joins Coach Johnny B to detail the strict strength pre-requisites for gymnastics movements CrossFit in CrossFit.

Here are the topics we covered in this episode:

  • The 2 foundations of gymnastics movements
  • How many reps of strict gymnastics do we need to have before progressing onto kipping?
  • One of the best parts of CrossFit is the feeling that “you can do anything” and kipping gymnastics feed into that. It allows us to do movements like pull-ups often times without really being able to do a pull-up. So what is your message to those people? The people who can do 5 kipping pull-ups, but can’t do one strict?
  • What is Pamela’s favorite Star Wars movie

Download a free copy of our Skills Progression Chart for a roadmap to your fitness success! Click the image below for your free copy!

The Performance Plus Programming Podcast is a short, actionable podcast that answers common questions from CrossFitters and other athletes. Featuring Dr. Zach Log (The Barbell Physio), Pamela Gagnon, and hosted by Coach Johnny Bouchard each short podcast episode will help you achieve your goals. Whether you are training for a competition or want to get stronger, our step-by-step guide is all you need to take care of your body.

Tune in each Friday for a new episode!




Episode 3 Transcript

Coach Johnny B: [00:00:00] Hey, what’s going on is coach Johnny back with the performance plus podcast. Today I am joined by the one and only Pamela Gagnan, uh, to talk about some strict standards for gymnastics, Pamela, how are you? Hey, Jen,

Pamela: it’s very busy, very exciting. Very grateful for. Everything. That’s kind of, you know, being an opportunity and being able to help athletes around the world has been the most exciting things since we started before miss

Coach Johnny B: bliss. Have you been traveling a lot lately or are you doing, uh, mostly everything in Charlotte area?

Pamela: Yeah, not traveling too much, mostly in the Charlotte area. Um, Then going back and forth to Tennessee a little bit to work with some mayhem athletes. Um, and, uh, so that’s been exciting. And, um, I do zoom lessons from people [00:01:00] kind of around the country, um, as well too, which is cool to be able to do that. Um, COVID brought that about, you know, like the, the life force zoom,

Coach Johnny B: the weirdest zoom consultation you’ve done with somebody.


Pamela: they haven’t like, they haven’t been weird because everybody wants to learn like the, the two favorite scales are usually bar muscle ups and some sort of handstand walking or handstand pushup. Like those are the two, like

Coach Johnny B: I need help with everybody’s at the gym. You’re not like getting, uh, some guy and like, Omaha Nebraska is living room who has like his naked seven year old child sitting on the couch.

Pamela: As I luckily have everybody. Well, I put like a preface of like, it’d be really helpful to be at the gym. So you have like some equipment, you know, if I need a box or a band for you to grab. But, um, yeah, so I’ve been, I’ve been lucky to not have anything too crazy and weird.

Coach Johnny B: Awesome. What is, uh, what is your like digital age of coaching?

Pet [00:02:00] peeve? You have one.

Pamela: No. I mean, the hardest part for me is spotting is just a huge portion of the gymnastic skills. So it’s really like, I have to really move into like the creative side of, of queuing because I can’t tapped out cue the athletes. Um, and so that’s been really kind of a good challenge for me to be able to.

Um, learn to coach through the internet, um, and, uh, and not be able to spot. So it makes, makes me more aware of how they move their body through. By having to really focus on the movement and cue the one specific thing. And I find like I gave two cues, we do it again, repetition, and then I’ll focus on two more, but

Coach Johnny B: very cool.

I, uh, I’ve worked with a couple of people online and there’s been some experiences where I’m like, this is a [00:03:00] train wreck, like, and it’s just like, you know, people are people and they got there, you know, they’ll hang it out there sometimes. But. Well, one lane directly, uh, I was doing basic personal training online.

Right. And like, she’s somebody that I’ve worked with in person before. Uh, and she just had like, you know, zero cares when she’s in her own home about like, you know, any sort of decency at all. Like no joke, like we’ll leave the computer on and go to the bathroom, like in the bathrooms, like you can see directly into the bathroom.

I’m like, oh, it’s not okay. Yeah. Yeah.

Pamela: Okay. Some dogs in the training with me, you know, like videos and stuff, but yeah.

Coach Johnny B: Yeah. Very cool. Well, we’re, uh, season one of the podcast we’re talking about prerequisite standards and that’s something that I think is, uh, pretty unique to a lot of what we do is that, um, we’ve, you’ve basically set around some standards on gymnastics and said, Hey, [00:04:00]this is what you need.

Uh, before you progress into the next level and then given people lovely programs and our goals page and all these assets and tools to really help themselves progress. So, uh, this first episode with you, I just kind of want to talk a little bit about, um, what are these, uh, standards that you think people should meet, um, and why it’s so important for the long-term development of their gymnastics.

So, uh, let’s just start with. Should people practice kipping before, uh, before they have strict movements, period. End of story.

Pamela: Um, no,

so it baffles my mind. Like, it’d be like somebody walking to the gym and seeing somebody, you know, do a. I don’t know, just say, take a female walking in June and seeing somebody do 150 pounds or a body weight, you know, snatch and being like, oh my God, that looks so easy. Let me try that. Where like you walk into the gym and you see somebody do a bar muscle up.[00:05:00]

Oh my God, that’s so easy. Let me try that. But nobody does that for the bar, but at work they’re like, oh my God, I could get really hurt that’s body. How can I learn that? Oh, I grabbed the PVC and I worked three position snatch, and then I grab a barbell and then I slowly add weight, but where it comes to body weight stuff, people don’t realize that’s your one rep max every single time, especially when you add on momentum kipping, it’s like three to five times your body weight of the force, you know, coming down, um, from a bar muscle up or from a KIPP.

Um, so. If you relate it to weightlifting like that, the light bulb goes off and they’re like, oh yeah, you’re right. There is like, definitely training between point a and B. And I shouldn’t just be able to hold my body through space and expect it to be easy. So it’s really building a foundation and strength is the first, you know, strength and flexibility, mobility, WhatsApp.

Those are the two foundations.

Coach Johnny B: Where, where does it stop the [00:06:00] foundation? I mean, and, and like you started in gymnastics when you were a kid I’m assuming, right. And progress. At what point is a gymnast, do you stop working on his foundations and just never, right. That’s the thing. I think for me, right. I always say I’m like the leader of the middle of the pack for CrossFit.

Like I’m like the most average of average CrossFitters, you know, uh, I can do many of the high level skills, but I’m not ever going to push that capacity past doing it. I find that people that are in my shoes. Often want to get to a destination of, okay. I can do bar muscle up now and now I stopped working on all these things.

So how much time, uh, should we keep dedicating to building that foundation after we have arrived at that time?

Pamela: That’s a really good question. Related to weightlifting. How many times have you done the Bergner warmup was an empty barbell. Literally every single time you warm up. Planes jerks snatches. So when you warm up for a [00:07:00] bar muscle up, why would you not do the same thing more than the three position, but at bar muscle up the bar muscle up, um, strict chest to bar is warmup strict bar muscle ups, you know?

Um, so I would say it’s really a never-ending journey. And then once you become that game’s level athlete, yes. You have definitely built the foundation that your warmup probably included.

Coach Johnny B: Do you think that’s a good way of like, kind of sneaking some, a volume, but B uh, like strict work into, uh, into a workout, like, especially if you’re kind of short on time, right. And maybe you don’t have a time to do a part a, of a. Gymnastics strength work, um, is just incorporate it in a more. Yeah, I think a lot

Pamela: of our athletes really use performance plus because it’s 10 to 15 minutes really as their warmup, once they’re, once they reach their goal, they’re like, okay, let me go and do this program.

Um, that, that might be, um, one of the [00:08:00] prerequisites again, or go back to the gymnastic programming and use that as a warmup. It’s a excellent portion too. When your muscle memory training as well too. It will help you with all the barbell stuff like EV I can’t tell you how many performance plus like athletes have DMD me and said, oh my God, my lifts went up by five pounds after I finished the last to fly.

And I’m like, yeah, you’re, you’re not only stronger, but you’re more aware of tension and body aware, you know, have that body of.

Coach Johnny B: That’s the, I think my favorite part of like gymnastics is it’s so appropriate susceptive, right? Like that it transfers to everything else that you’re going to do athletically, like.

And CrossFit, but many other sports, right? Like the people that kind of like, uh, w instantly pick things up are the kids that had backgrounds in gymnastics. Like they may not hold runners, but like, other than that, I go out there and, you know, they can catch a football better. [00:09:00] They can do many, many things just because they have that.

Body awareness and that ability to understand movement as it pertains to their body and space, which is really definitely it’s

Pamela: the, I mean, look at the hierarchy of development of CrossFit in general, you know, domestics as that foundation look at all the games, athletes. Uh, many of the top games, athletes have that tenacity

Coach Johnny B: and the do to started cross.

It was gymnast at one point in his life. So there’s probably some, some bias to being really good at that too. So moral of the story,

Pamela: right, exactly right. Oh my God. The first time I, I was introduced to CrossFit, um, I, I, there was like, I think it was pull up searches where I don’t even remember, but I was hanging again from a bar and I was.

Yeah, I think it was 12, 15 years after college and I’m like, oh my God, this is amazing. I get to be a gymnast again. That’s where I joined CrossFit, you know?

Coach Johnny B: Uh, and why you’re so good at it too. You got the, all [00:10:00] the things that Zach and I have to work on relentlessly to be one 10th, as good as you. So, uh, As far as progression up the ladder.

So like, let’s say we’ve got the strict pull ups. Um, we’ve started getting into kipping, uh, how much strict work should we have as a foundation before we start moving into the higher and highest level skills. So, um, how many. Uh, how long should I hold a handstand for before I can walk? How long, how many strict pull-ups before I start going after bar muscle ups or ring muscle ups?

Um, I feel like there’s just not a lot of that information out there. That’s a good guideline. Yeah.

Pamela: Yes. That is an excellent question. There’s probably not a lot of information out there because there is no magic number and here’s how I like to coach and teach. It is, watch your athlete under tension. Do they have full control?

Can they rep out through, um, you know, are they able to control the ecentric movement? Do they have the awareness to have an active [00:11:00] hang through each stripped rep or do they lose a bottom of the pull-up? Um, for handstand they’re wavering in their hold, can they pull back using their core and their shoulders?

And do they have that understanding? So it’s not necessarily like, oh, if you can hold, if you can’t hold 45 seconds, then you’re not ready to move on to the next stage. Well, obviously the more strict strength and the more, um, the more static holes you have, the easier everything will be. So the answer is it’s never enough.

So. I wanted to get straight for a muscle. So the reason I was able to do that was because I didn’t just have one or chest to bar, you know, seven to 10, really good hollow body one. So if you want to struggle less, spend more time work foundational. [00:12:00] Mobility, and then you will struggle, but there is no clear cut number.

The number is the more, more is better. And look at the control the athlete has through their

Coach Johnny B: muscles from an emotional standpoint. Right? Cause that’s some of the things, one of the things that I remember about Crawford that really got me into it, uh, I walked into the room, very out of shape. And there was pull ups written on the whiteboard.

And then the coach was like, well, you don’t really have the ability to read, hang, pull ups. We teach you this other way called. And it was almost like a sales point. Like, no, no, we can get you to do ports without, but there’s this very emotional element for a lot of people, right. Uh, that, um, Kipping can kind of like get them to something that they thought they would never do in their entire life.

So how do you motivate and stay motivated if you’re that person that is just let’s break the kind of inherently weak or under-trained and now they have to confront this. The tasks that may take awhile [00:13:00] in reality of gaining strict strength before moving to kipping. And then they see their friends who just go, you know, it’s one bad kipping pull up, but like their best friend has that terrible kipping pull up that they get to do in workouts.

And they don’t like, how do you coach that athlete and tell us some words, uh, so we can feel better about ourselves. Okay.

Pamela: Yeah. Um, I think that there’s a way to make it really exciting and that is giving them. Um, progressions that they are successful at, and that are also fun. So nobody wants to sit in the corner, like, you know, when it’s playground time in kindergarten, every day.

Right. So it feels like you’re being punished when you can’t swim on the rig, like the rest of your friends. So. For kipping, pull-ups break it down to, um, you know, five toe assist pull-ups that they’re successful at and feel how S like strong they’re getting, and then add five, [00:14:00] just kit swings, where they’re learning, how to control the arch and hollow, or maybe they’re just not strong enough to even do that.

And they just do some shrugs, some hanging, active shrugs. So they want to hang from the bar. That’s the fun part. So give them the tools to do it successfully. And explain to them, Hey, we’re going to get you here. Give me if you don’t like this progression after eight weeks. Then come talk to me. I’ve never once had an athlete comes to me.

Only had them come, thanked

Coach Johnny B: me doing it the right way for getting them to where they needed to go safely in the right way. Okay. I love it. I

Pamela: can’t believe how. Week. I was because I wasn’t working the strengths. I’ve never been so sore. I’m getting stronger. Now my goal is a strict pull up. This is amazing.


Coach Johnny B: yeah, love it. Well, thank you. I’m going to steal that and use some of that information for sure. Um, last thing, uh, when they’re, when you don’t have the strict prerequisite and it comes to doing that [00:15:00] con or coming for workouts for time, um, are there variations that kind of can deliver that same effect?

Of the workout stimulus without, uh, without having to be late, for lack of better words.

Pamela: Yeah, totally. So for, yeah. So for handstand pushups, I’ll have them do, like, let’s say it’s 10 handstand pushups, every round for five rounds. They’re going to go do a ten second handstand hole. Cause what’s fun about handstand pushups for handstand.

When they’re going to go do five. Um, tricep pushups, or maybe they’re not advanced enough. They’ll go do five box pike, handstand pushups, and then they’ll move on. So remember it’s consistency then intensity. So not everything in the workout has to be fire-breathing all the time, but you have to make sure it’s fine.

And that they want to come back. So what’s fun in that scale. Oh, handstands. [00:16:00] Everyone wants to do handstands. So that’s where you break that skill apart and feel like I can achieve this. I’m getting closer.

Coach Johnny B: Love it. Do you do tell us as to pull up some workouts? Do you have people do that or do you find that they use the till way too much?

Pamela: I’d totally do it. And I’ll cut the numbers in half, cause it really is strict. And I make sure that they really go on the tip of their shoe instead of the ball of their foot. If I find that they’re using the, their feet too much, I have them drop a leg

Coach Johnny B: off the box. And then do you use bands at all?

Pamela: Never not for that.

I use bands. No, no, no, no. That came out wrong. Not for, not for pull-ups. If I have an athlete that really, really can’t even do ring rows, can’t do, which I don’t think Ringrose really translate well to a full strip pull-up so I’ll have them do seated, abandoned, pull down. So they’re doing the negative of the, um, you know, the pull-up [00:17:00] that’s that’s how I would use it.


Coach Johnny B: Okay, creative. I think that you might be the only person. I know that coaches at that way. Uh, I love it. And I’ve, it’s way more effective than how most of us out there are, you know, throwing bands on rigs and just having people bounce up and down on this thing. So. Awesome. Um, that was great. So my big takeaways here are always start with strict strength, uh, build that foundation or strict strength and mobility, um, and never stop building.

It’s always, your progress are always something we’re going to be working on for the rest of our lives. The same way that making our back squat better is something we’re up for the rest of our lives. And that.

Pamela: You made it to the weightlifting world.

Coach Johnny B: And then, um, from the perspective of prerequisites, there’s no right number, uh, before somebody can progress, but it’s a feel in a, a know thing.

Um, and it’s making sure that you actually do have some [00:18:00] strict strength and some control, some motor control over the movement before progress. And

Pamela: more strict strain is Ellie

Coach Johnny B: strength is always better. Um, and Zach and I have been doing this thing where he says in every episode, he says something really nerdy about like star wars.

So we wanted to know one, have you ever seen a star wars movie before? I have

Pamela: seen all the star wars movies with my

Coach Johnny B: boys. You have boys that’s right. So of course, did you watch.

Pamela: I watched them, but I did not pay as much attention as I should have.

Coach Johnny B: Do you have a favorite?

Pamela: Do I have a favorite? Well, I just saw the Mandalorian with, with my boys.

Cause it just came out this past year. Okay. That one was, yeah, that one was really good just because, but, um, I’m always an original person, like. The first of any series is usually the best, [00:19:00] you know,

Coach Johnny B: Right. Cause it’s just like, I was acquitted back the music cause I worked in music, but when bands are young and hungry and have nothing and they’re drinking more than they should, they always make the best music.

Like Bruce Springsteen of it writing the greatest hits that Bruce Springsteen’s written at, you know, 30 years into his career. Cause you know, he’s Bruce Springsteen. He doesn’t need it. Exactly.

Pamela: Like the original man was better than the enemy.

Coach Johnny B: Oh yeah. Way better. Oh. Did you just make friends. You made an ant man reference.

That was a Zach. And I’s other question for you is if you had seen a Marvel movie, so there we go. You’ve knocked out in one episode, so well done.

Pamela: You got it. I, I, yeah, I, uh, I’m working on going through all of them, maybe like seven, maybe about seven. Well, that’s very like the order is kind of up to who you talk to [00:20:00]because there’s a few different ways too.

It’s like release date or it’s like, there’s another way to calculate it. So I’ve been following my friend’s advice, who is a huge Marvel fan. So the Atlanta in order,

Coach Johnny B: there’s definitely. The other way that kinda makes the movies make more sense than the store, but yet that’s the way, the way, the better way to do it in order.

That’s awesome. Um, well, cool. Well, thanks for doing this. Thanks for clarifying all this stuff for us. And for me, especially about strict strengthened as it pertains to gymnastics and really everything else. Um, There are people out there that are struggling with this? I think our platform performance bus is a great, great solution for this.

Uh, I’m a person that needs a program in order to accomplish things, because if I just take the advice that you gave me on my own, I’m going to do it one time and quit. Um, so our programs, uh, frustrate whole up, um, uh, ring, uh, strengthened stability. Um, what else? Uh, there’s a [00:21:00]million of them on. Um, that

Pamela: all,

Coach Johnny B: that’s the fly for, especially kurtosis bar, if you’ve never done that, and you have problems with toes bar cruxes, everything.

Uh, but these are things that resources that we have for you guys out there, um, that will systematically solve a lot of these problems without having to think about it too much. So. If you have problems, always you can DM hammock and DM Zack. You could DMR performance plus programming, uh, Instagram page, uh, but we’re here to help, but those programs are great resources.

If you guys are struggling with this. Um, and it’s a great way to kind of build on that strength. So anything else you want to add? Okay. Very cool. Thanks for joining us, uh, the next time to talk about, uh, standards, if you want me to games, athlete. So, uh, see you then have a great day.[