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Coaches Corner: The pull-up

The pull-up is one of those movements that comes so naturally for some and is a constant struggle for others. But, no matter where you lie on the pull-up spectrum, there is always room for improvement. 

Why should you do pull-ups?

Pull-ups are a great test of body weight strength. They work your grip, biceps, shoulders, and back. They also help improve general body awareness and help you learn to control your body through space. Pull-ups are the ultimate real-world upper body exercise.  

Why do some people struggle?

Sorry ladies, the cards are sort of stacked against us! Women have a higher body fat percentage than men, which means that their strength to body weight ratio is low. Women also don’t build muscle as fast which makes it more difficult but not impossible!

Also, taller and larger people have a harder time with strict pull-ups. Smaller people have a relatively higher body weight strength than a larger person-once again, that strength to body weight ratio. It often comes down to weight, levers, and physics. 

The good news: You can still get a pull-up!

If you are committed to working towards it, there are many things you can do to work towards that elusive strict pull-up. 

  1. Work on the basic muscle groups to build bicep and lat strength through free weight movements and lifting. 
  2. Scale the pull up to something that directly translates to the full movement. I recommend toe assisted box pullups (video) and only SOME band assisted pull-ups. 
  3. Make a goal and commit and be diligent to whatever program you choose! (check out my pull-up program on the website or find one that works for you!)
  4. If it is healthy and feasible for you, shedding even a few pounds will make pull-ups, and every body-weight movement much easier.  


To kip or not to kip. 

Why do we do the kipping pull-up? In any high-intensity training, we want to find ways that you can do more reps in a short amount of time to keep the intensity up. 

However, if you cannot perform a strict pull-up, there is no reason to do kipping pull-ups in a workout. It’s just not safe! However, you can continue to work on the skill outside of workouts while you are developing your strict pull-up strength.

Improving on your strict pull-ups.

If you already have a good strict pull-up foundation, here are a few things to add to your routine that can help improve them even more. 

  1. Add some weight: Go slow and work up in weight and reps.
  2. Improve your mobility: If you know you have tight lats or thoracic spine, spend some time every day working on those areas for a better full range of motion. 
  3. Negatives: Work on negatives until failure (no longer able to control descent)
  4. Chest to bar: Work on pulling even higher! Aim for your chest or sternum. This will help engage even more lats, chest, and triceps. 

wait for it…..



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Meet our members.

Ben Roden 


Ben packed his life into his 2-door Honda Accord and moved to Denver 3 years ago to study fancy numbers in grad school and play in the mountains. Now, he works in corporate finance consulting doing some of that fancy numbers stuff. He grew up playing soccer but took up climbing after college and never looked back. Much like many of our members, he came to Mountain Strong looking for a community and was happy to find one that was similarly motivated to himself. 

Outside of the gym, he climbs, summits mountains, trail runs, snowboards, reads books, writes poorly and plays chess. Currently, he’s psyched on snowy mountain summits, muscle ups and almond butter toast. You can find Ben in the gym at almost any hour of the day lifting and working on his gymnastic skills. He is one of our strongest body weight to strength athletes!



Ashley Munoz

Ashley started coming to Mountain Strong in October this year after moving from Washington DC. She picked Mountain Strong because she was looking for a new wonderful CrossFit community filled with talented and amazing athletes.  She has CrossFitted for the last 2 years and when not at the gym you can find her outside: whether that is skiing several days a week, trail running, snowshoeing, swimming or hiking 14ers. 

For work, she is a nurse in the Cardiac Intensive Care nurse at Childern’s Hospital and works primarily night shift, so you will find her at random times at the gym. Her favorite work out movements are HSPUs, box jumps and, if you can believe it, burpees! She loves the vast knowledge of everyone at the gym and is looking forward to growing as an athlete and meeting all the other members at Mountain Strong. 

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Occlusion training : aka Blood flow restriction

Occlusion training: aka Blood flow restriction

Below is a collection of articles and information I gathered from a verity of sources to help get you up to speed on BFR training and its benefits.



What is blood flow restriction training?

Wikipedia definition:“Blood flow restriction training (abbreviated BFR training) or Occlusion Training is an exercise approach whereby resistance exercise or aerobic exercise is performed whilst a tourniquet is applied to proximal aspect of the muscle. Limb blood flow is restricted via a cuff throughout the contraction cycle and rest period. This results in partial restriction of arterial inflow to muscle, but, most significantly restricts venous outflow from the muscle. Given the light-load nature and strengthening capacity of BFR training, it can provide an effective clinical rehabilitation stimulus without the high levels of joint stress and cardiovascular risk associated with heavy-load training ”

Explain the physiology:

Excerpt from 

“In order to understand how BFR works, it’s important to do a quick debriefing on how your circulatory system (also called vascular or cardiovascular system) works. Your arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood away from your heart to your body. Your veins are blood vessels that carry mostly deoxygenated blood from the body back to the heart.

The goal of blood flow restriction training is to restrict venous return while still allowing arterial flow by strategically wrapping the topmost portion of your limbs. By restricting the veins and not the arteries, blood can keep pooling into a working muscle and it stays trapped there. It’s like filling a water balloon to max capacity (without it popping, of course).

By bringing in all of that blood to the working muscles without letting it leave, a couple key things happen.

One, you get a crazy pump. Seriously, your muscles become supersized. The theory is that this leads to cellular swelling which shocks the muscles into new growth.

Two, it’s gonna burn like hell. Your muscles quickly become deprived of oxygen and can’t get rid of accumulating waste materials and this creates a lot of metabolic stress or acidosis. Metabolic stress is one of the three major mechanisms of muscle growth and should not be overlooked.

Dr. Brad Schoenfeld is a regular Men’s Health contributor and one of the leading authorities on hypertrophy (the scientific term for muscle growth).

In his book Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy, he says: “The prevailing body of literature shows that BFR training stimulates anabolic signaling and muscle protein synthesis and markedly increases muscle growth despite using loads often considered too low to promote significant hypertrophy.”

Brad goes on further, saying that “it has been speculated that metabolic stress is the driving force behind BFR-induced muscle hypertrophy.”

Another really cool thing that happens with BFR is since your oxygen-dependent slow-twitch fibers fatigue way faster than normal, you have to quickly start tapping into your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which have the biggest potential for growth.

What’s crazy about this is your fast-twitch fibers typically don’t get hit unless you’re using heavy loads or moderately heavy loads performed explosively. But BFR allows you to go fast-twitch with loads less than 50 percent of your one-rep max. In fact, one study from the Journal of Applied Physiology showed increased muscle cross-sectional area with BFR training using loads as light as 20 percent of one-rep max. That’s the equivalent of pink baby weights in some cases.”


Show me the evidence:

A meta-analysis of studies pertaining to BFR

How to incorporate this into my cross training and climbing :

At Mountain Strong, we like using the somewhat standard program of :

30 fast succession reps (or: 45 secs of work) at a low eight ( >20%1rm ) followed by a: 30-second rest repeated 4 times. We like to do this in a couplette (with two different exercises- 4 rounds each – resting and releasing the cuff once after the first  4 round set and on completion of the second).

We find this methodology is best put into practice for our climbers by selecting Zottman curls and grip squeezesfor their BFR training. For a less sport-specific approach, we like calf raizes, air squats, and triceps extensions.


exsample workout :

Tighten band just above the elbow:

4 rounds of :45 sec rapid squeezing with rubber grip trainers followed by :30 of rest

Release the band – rest for 3 min –

Tighten the band just below the shoulderat the top of the biceps then:

4 rounds of 30 reps of the zottman curl followed by :30 seconds of rest


Links to learn more: 

Buying a BFR band :

The Science of Blood Flow Restriction Training

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The ultimate warm up: part 1 – the shoulders


Warming up sucks. I get it. Listen to me when I say this. Being injured sucks more. So, for the love of god, don’t be a dingbat and take the time to warm up properly.

Today we are going to cover shoulders:

First things first. Time brush up on your shoulder anatomy:  There are a lot of muscles in this joint that have small tolerances between them, making for a shitstorm if one or more of those little bastards get tight or hurt.  When one muscle gets injured it can cause a cascading effect that can make your life miserable. The good news is there are a lot of ways to improve flexibility and mobility in the shoulder.


In climbers specifically, the teres minor takes a beating, all that sucking your hips into the wall and cranking on steep angles can get that baby as tight as a bowstring.



As written by www.bodybuilding

“Now, when most people think of the muscles of the shoulder, they probably think of the deltoids (anterior/front, middle, and posterior/rear) and the traps. While these are the biggest muscles of the shoulder and the ones that give that area of the body its shape, there are in fact many smaller muscles that are just as crucial to shoulder movement and health.

The Rhomboids and levator scapulae are muscles in the upper back that if left untrained allow the shoulder to slump forward and rotate inward – the classic “benchers shoulder”. The muscles of the Rotator Cuff are the supraspinatus, subscapularis, infraspinatus, and trees minor, all of which contribute to the stability of the shoulder. Often in our training, these muscles get overlooked and take a back seat to traditional shoulder exercises for the deltoids.

Let’s face it – a stability based exercise for the tiny rotator cuff muscle subscapularis doesn’t sound as sexy as doing a heavy shoulder press to build massive front delts. But it’s this line of thinking that leads to imbalances and injury.”


I put together a list of my favorite shoulder warmup / strengthing movements. Most of these can easily be done without equipment an out at the cliff.

Exercise # 1 banded scapular engagement

These are great because you can bring a lightweight band with you climbing outside or to the gym and knock these out easy and fast.

Exercise # 2

Scapular rows and ring/barbell rows. These are a go-to for myself and some other climbers I know.

Exercise # 3

This guy seems a bit like a dingus, but he is right. not the coolest video but this stuff is key!


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Tips for Preventing and Treating Injuries

Tips for Preventing and Treating Injuries


Getting injured is one of the worst things that can happen to an athlete, no matter the goals or level of training. We never want you to get injured because it can slow down your physical progress and more importantly, your motivation. With that in mind, here are a few tips and resources that are available to you to help prevent and treat the injury.

On top of these tips, live to fight another day!  Rarely is it worth it to push through something small even like hand tearing to finish a workout…choose your times wisely (ie: make it worth it if you’re going to tear!)  Longevity means a lot though and being more conservative with pushing through things can really pay off.  Almost all of us under recover, so be careful with your training to not dig yourself into a hole that’s so deep it affects the rest of your week, or even longer!  Also, recreational softball/baseball in the Denver area is attempting to kill our athletes so for the love of god, do something more dangerous to avoid the softball/baseball Mountain Strong curse!

Tips for Preventing Injury.

Stop before it’s too late.

This one seems obvious, but many people continue to work through minor pain and injury, even when they know it’s not helping the situation. If you absolutely cannot rest (we kind of doubt that’s true), just remember, there are always other movements you can do to work around ANY injury. Just notify your coach so that they can create a plan with you before the workout starts.  You don’t have to use the rx weight or a weight heavy for you every day, in fact, most of the time the weight used in workouts should be a very low percentage.  If you don’t have a coach to help you modify around an injury, consider getting one…many people think they can do it on their own, but there’s a reason literally every major athlete has a coach…

Do preventative exercises For shoulders: Iron Scap is one of the best tools we have found to make rock solid, bombproof shoulders the size of real life boulders. If you’re a Mountain Strong athlete and need some guidance here, ask a coach to take you through it the first time. We recommend doing them every day you are in the gym for a warm up, cool down, or whenever you can fit it in.
For hips: Use small thera-bands. Once again, if you have not used them before, ask a coach to take you through a few exercises or search “monster walk.”  You’re welcome…and I’m sorry.
Lin Hill (Synergistic Movement) has a ton of great mobility and strengthening movements. Schedule an appointment with her so that she can make a personalized plan for you. If you don’t know what you’re doing and dealing with some sort of ailment, she’s probably a great use of a few bucks. Lift with proper form before adding weight.

Once again, an obvious but often looked over piece of advice is to focus on technique first, even if you are an experienced athlete. Make sure your form is solid before you being to load weight. Even light to moderate weight moved incorrectly can cause injury. If you are unsure, always ask a coach to check your form. No one’s form is perfect, but working towards perfection is an important focus to have.  Use warm-up reps to set the tone of good movement for the day.  Don’t just go through the motions!



Sleep and rest.

Sleep is essential for recovery and muscle gainzzzzz! We understand that life is busy but trying to have a consistent sleep schedule is important for improved performance and decreasing injury.  Rest when your body needs it. Working out under fatigue can lead to an injury.

Resources for treating injuries.

Lin Hill: Synergistic Movement.

Lin is our in-house soft tissue therapist and has a variety of knowledge and tools to both prevent and treat injury. Lin uses fascial stretch therapy, the Lokte method, and muscle activation techniques. She can assess your movement patterns and give you therapeutic exercises for strengthening and mobility. She should be your first go-to in the event of an injury and can help you come up with a treatment plan.
Daxx Vedrin:
Point Zero Acupuncture.  Daxx is one of our Mountain Strong members and he uses advanced acupuncture with modern medicine using electrical stimulation and injection therapy for improved results.
Derrick McBride:
Fix Performance MedicineDerrick specializes in functional movement, acupuncture, and fascial stretch therapy. He is an expert in his field and has extensive experience in keeping athletes healthy and treating injuries.
Denver Sports Recovery (DSR). DSR is right down the road and has a variety of equipment and therapists designed for injury prevention and enhanced work out recovery. You can pay per visit or get a membership with them.

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Interview: Mountain runner and climber Kyle Richardson

Kyle Richardson is a mountain athlete who lives in Boulder, Colorado. His focus is a hybrid blend of endurance-speed climbing and running, known as FKT or fastest known time. Here is a link to the website that tracks FKT. Participants attempt to climb mountains or features of a mountain as quickly as possible, measuring the time it takes from car to the summit and back to the car ( known as car 2 car). His style is fast and light, covering many thousands of feet of elevation and miles of trail in short time periods, often scrambling and speed climbing free solo to save time.

check out his Stava page here:

and scope him on Instagram here:



What kind of athlete do you see yourself as?

I see myself as a Mountain Athlete. I let the terrain dictate the mode of transportation I choose to use in the mountains. ( i.e running, hiking, scrambling, climbing, biking) Being out in the landscape, pushing my body and being close to my limit. I always find that this provides a very raw and rewarding experience.

What kind of challenges inspires you these days?

Big linkups and enchainments of peaks gets me excited these days. Finding a logical and inspiring line is what gets me psyched. (Ex: the LA Freeway) The blend of running and climbing opens up the door for creativity in the mountains

How long have you been climbing?

6 years

How many days a week, on average, do you climb/ run outside?

I pretty much do some sort of activity 7 days a week

Annually do you ever take substantial periods of time off from climbing?

I take time off from climbing when I’m more focused on running based objectives. I try and climb inside Winter through Spring to get strong and then spend my time climbing outside in the Summer and Fall.

Do you train with weights on top of your outdoor climbing?


Do you train in a climbing gym on top of your outdoor climbing?

Normally I do not


How many days a week do you train on average?

I don’t see anything I do outside as training. I get outside because I love to be out in the landscape. I feel like this mindset is sustainable and I’m not attached to some sort of training regiment.

What kind of cardio training do you do, if any ?

When I’m resting from running, I will bike or climb. On days where I do nothing, I spend my time reading and playing music.

How does your eating and nutrition change as you approach a difficult linkup or project?

My eating and nutrition doesn’t ever really change. I just try to always eat a healthy and balanced diet. I have done this for lone enough that I know what is sustainable and what is not.

What do your rest days look like?

Active Recovery

How seriously do you take sleep, how many hours do you get on average?

6-8 hrs of sleep. It also depends on how focused I am on a project

Describe the week directly before a project? Do you rest more, eat differently, change any of your habits?

I definitely rest more leading up to a big race or objective. I keep my body moving but my volume decreases.

Describe the night before, and the morning of, a project redpoint day or a competition?

I try to keep everything normal before a big day. There is no need to change something the night of an event.

Any rules to live by?

Be true to yourself



Daisy Chains…. haha. I don’t know, I try not to think about this kind of stuff too much. I get annoyed by climbers that aren’t cautious on loose terrain. Too many close calls with rockfall.

What sets climbing apart from other sport?

The mental control and risk management

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Quick interview with Joe Kinder by Matt Lloyd

I sent over some breif questions for pro climber Joe Kinder,  as someone who’s been in the game for a long time i wqnted to know a few things about his climbing habits. Here are some quick answers to some quick questions. Take gander.


Question by Matt Lloyd

p.s – I stole all the photos from the interwebs… duh.



                                                                           Andrew Burr photo


What kind of athlete do you see yourself as?

Sport climber and route developer.

What kind of challenges inspires you these days regarding climbing / athletics?

Personal aesthetics that I identify with. Solidarity, un-done things, less hyped.

How many years have you climbed?

What’s the hardest route you have ever completed? – not necessarily the hardest grade although it might be.
9a+ Life Of Villains

How many days a week, on average, do you climb?


                                                                                      photo Javipec 


Annually do you ever take substantial periods of time off from climbing?

Not unless injured or depressed.

Do you train with weights on top of your outdoor climbing? If so example?

Hangboard yes.

Do you train in a climbing gym on top of your outdoor climbing? If so, bouldering or routes or both? 


Do you use a hangboard? If so whats an example of a workout you do?

Yes. I do a 7/53 protocol and I complex with campusing

How many days a week do you train on average?


Do you get in any accessory cardio? You know to keep that beach body ready

Rowing intervals or arc.

What do your rest days look like? ( do you do active rest or do you just rest, do you stretch, get a message, drink a bottle of whiskey blah blah )

Depends on many things, but usually yoga, lounge, hike, be a city boy

How does your eating and nutrition change as you approach a project?

I eat less and try to figure out the best foods for the performance days.

What is your favorite form of recovery? foam roller, ice baths etc

Lacross ball

How seriously do you take sleep, how many hours do you get on average?

When climbing full time I sleep 8-10 hours a day

Describe the week directly before a project? Do you rest more, eat differently, change any of your habits?

Rest more. Taper from training. Like now.

How many burns can you put on a project in a day?

On an average day of climbing routes outside, how many would you climb?

Describe the night before, and the morning of, a project redpoint day or a competition?

I try not to drink.

Do you have any weird or odd rituals or habits that help you get in “ the zone” before attempting something hard?

Been working on that as I think it’s healthy, but it depends on the era and route.

Do you have a mantra, self-talk, or anything you tell yourself before and during competition?

I just breathe and try to tell myself positive things.

You have been on the forefront of climbing for a long time, any ninja tip or rules to live by?

Don’t do it for other people.

Do you have any quirky personal habits that help you succeed at your sport?

I’m goal oriented.

Any regrets pertaining to how and when you have climbed/ trained over the years?

I’ve become more patient and that’s helped a lot. Slowing down has helped.

What’s the most tries you have ever put on a route- and which route was it – what pushed you over the edge to the send eventually?

Life Of Villains. Well over 100 tries over 5 years.

Link here  to the story of the route 

Whats something climbers do that irks you?

Un-authentic people.

What sets climbing apart from other sports you have done? 


A video about joes training.

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