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Blood, Blisters, Sexism and Pull-Ups by Pär Larsson - CrossFit Journal

In Medical/Injuries

October 20, 2010

PDF Article

There’s no need to rip your hands up in everyday training. Pär Larsson explains a pull-up technique that might hurt your ego but not your hands.

I don’t mind calluses. No one particularly cares what my hands look like. I personally don’t care who does more pull-ups faster in a generic WOD at CrossFit SoCal as long as I’m having fun and getting a good workout consistent with my goals. I do, however, care if I’m doing a pull-up test for work or a competition—and I really mind if my hands are bleeding or if pieces of them are missing. Blood makes a mess that eventually has to be cleaned up, and call me a sissy, but pain hurts.

Thirteen years of doing pull-ups, rock climbing and being tested on max consecutive pull-ups for Navy special programs taught me how to avoid busting up my hands with a minimum of effort and no fancy gear, gloves or tape.

I don’t want to go off on a rant here, but judging by the number of CrossFit athletes I see with bloody hands and ripped blisters, plenty of people can learn from my mistakes, and this might be something worth watching for if you’re a trainer.

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22 Comments on “Blood, Blisters, Sexism and Pull-Ups”


wrote …

Nice article Par. Good stuff and humorous reading, in a good way.



wrote …

She is bloody cute!


wrote …

Damn right i am! Haha


wrote …

I preach the same grip work in our box. And personally I have only ever had one rip ever while using this grip.


wrote …

I empathize with Larsson because I am an old guy, but I also use my weight vest/shorts all the time, and I have been climbing (5.9 to 5.11 depending on whether I am fat or skinny at the time) for much longer than I have been doing Crossfit. I use a variation of Rock Rings for all my pullups because I'm not willing to demolish my elbows in training. My only regret is not quite getting a one-arm pullup while I was skinny -- maybe after my dissertation I'll get back to that (the original Stupid People Trick among rock climbers) But I don't rip calluses -- ever -- and the reason is as laid out here. Use a sloper grip -- your tendons and your hands will thank you (although your ego won't). Very focused article with a lot of accumulated wisdom. Use it!


wrote …

1. I thought I read somewhere it was important to always have your thumb wrapped around the bar for safety - this doesn't prevent you from using the finger grip (I use it), just making a point about the photos. I think there was a discussion on the Cfit discussion board about someone kipping off the bar,landing on a plyo box and breaking ribs...

2. I have a set of the rubber "lynx" discs that are like pads for your palms - these work really well.


wrote …

Oh yes, we call this the monkey grip at our box. I've used the monkey grip when my hands would be ripped from the regular grip. You'll also develop new calluses but on your fingers instead haha. Gotta collect all the possible calluses right?



wrote …

Sweetness! I'm gonna go try this right now! Great article!


wrote …

Great article. i am excited to start trying the new grips


wrote …

Definitely trying this one later...just ripped my wonderful calluses doing Forrest. Wasn't going to let that stop me but now I have to figure out how to use the grip ALL the time. I'm tired of being the badass, or shall I say dumbass.


wrote …

Thanks for the article! It came just in time as I posted a couple days ago how my hands got ripped up doing KB snatches. Will this new grip work just as well with kipping pull ups or is this more for strict pull ups? This might be a newbie question but haven't mastered kipping pull ups yet and I keep imagining myself falling off if I use this new grip with kipping.


wrote …

i've always used this grip. i used it before crossfit and i carried it over to use in wods. ive been doing crossfit since january and have yet to rip a callus. i told a lot of people at the box i use to go to how to do it and no one listened. some folks said i wasnt doing enough work cause i had never torn a callus. i am glad this article is out to the community.


replied to comment from Chasen Glatz

works with kipping


wrote …

I've been using and teaching the "middle ground" grip so long I thought that's how everyone gripped the bar. It's huge helping people get past the "crossfit hurts" mentality as well.


Stephen Wakefoose wrote …

I love the bio! Great Advice. Working in a jail the last thing I need is to rip my hands all up then go to work looking like a mummy cause I have to secure my wounds from my germ & bacteria ridden work enviroment.

-Foose, CrossFit West Chester, PA


wrote …

Good article, there's a typo in one of the photo captions though. Under the Crossfit San Diego picture, Workout is spelled Wokrout


wrote …

Good Article, have had a lot of problems with my hands since i began with CrossFit so i will give this a go :)

Hell yeah!


wrote …

I love what they wrote for "about the author"


wrote …

I've never understood why Crossfitter's will call you a pussy if you wear protective equipment to perform on a day to day basis. I don't remember my football coaches calling me a wuss for wearing a helmet. First let me say I never rip my palms because I always do pullups gripping with my fingers, wrapping my thumb to help with the grip. That being said, when I have a WOD where I am doing lots of pullups, I ALWAYS tape at least my two middle fingers on each hand. However, I have thought many time about getting gymnastics grips. I WISH I had those guys and gals strength and power, and if it is good enough for them, it's good enough for me. You don't see male gymnasts chastising other guys for wearing grips for their high bar routine. It's expected because it helps them perform optimally. What's the big deal. Do I wear leather fingerless gloves. No, mainly because it actually makes it more difficult to hang on. That having been said, I would if it would help. Folks, get over it. Wear what you need to wear. Do I have calluses on my hands and fingers still. Sure, but there is no need to rip them on a daily basis just to prove how much of a hard-ass I am. Besides, in this day of more and more blood borne pathogens, hows about we try to keep the blood off the equipment and in our bodies where we need it.


wrote …

Great insight, even better sense of humor!


Jesse Gray wrote …

Good stuff Par!


wrote …

Cheers for all the nice words, people. The point was kind of to help people get away from the whole "CrossFit is a crazy cult" thing. Post a link to this when you see someone glorify their ripped, bleeding hands on Facebook or wherever. CF should be about safely getting better at stuff, not about tearing your hands apart. Emergencies, competitions, 1RM excepted.

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