Enthusiasm or Patience?

With the competition season rapidly approaching, I know many of us are eager to add new skills to our skill sets and/or refine techniques for existing skills. As coaches, we welcome the infectious enthusiasm that spreads throughout the community this time of year–regardless of your competitive aspirations. It’s a fun opportunity for us to help all of you address those individual goals.

It’s always nice to see people practicing and working the progressions required to safely and efficiently develop proficiency with these skills. I am particularly excited to see many of you are making time to attack some of the higher skill gymnastic movements.
Recently, the butterfly pull-up has been a focal point for many. As such, the comments below will focus on that movement as a way to illustrate the bigger picture.

(Below is a video of the butterfly being performed as well as I have seen. Video and series of questions below courtesy of CrossFit Milford and Power Monkey gymnastics)

To butterfly or not?

Are they safe for you? How many are you doing? Why are you doing them? (desired training stimulus) What is your structure? Shoulder/spine/hip range of motion? Can you control that full range of motion? Can you demonstrate scapular stability and control? How is your posture? Have you worked on building a solid structural foundation? How are your strict pull up positions? Age? Training age? Any past/present injuries? How is your technique and timing?

All these considerations are of the utmost importance for determining your readiness to perform/practice any movement. At any given moment, you are as fit and as skilled as you are. Improving one will improve the other. They are not mutually exclusive.

Like other dynamic movements, the butterfly pull-up places a very high demand on the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints. As such, your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints must be properly prepared for this demand. This is accomplished by working your progressions! Ignoring the progressions is a recipe for disaster.

Let me be clear–prepare properly or prepare for injury.


Always practice the basics. Fall in love with the process, not the movement. Demonstrate the willingness to put in the work required to perform the movement WELL!

Quality trumps quantity. Intelligence and patience trump blind enthusiasm. If you were preparing for an algebra test by taking as many practice tests as possible, wouldn’t it be best if you knew basic arithmetic first? I am fairly certain that all the enthusiasm in the world for voluminous practice testing is going to prove to be useless if you can’t add. The same principle applies to our goals. It’s been my experience that the person who can pair their enthusiasm with a patient willingness to learn will be much better off in the bigger picture. Don’t forget we always have other things to work on. Obsessing over any one thing is a mistake. All skills and abilities are part of the whole. When we assess someone that wants to “fix” their butterfly, or any other movement, the fix (more often than not) is going back and putting in the work with the basics.

Enjoy the process. Laugh off frustration. Most importantly, have fun.


Follow this link for video that Coach Travis is Referring to.