Brian PCF's Blog

Upperbody Strength Template

A few PCFers asked me to create a template to improve general upperbody strength. They are not seeing significant progress on press, ring dips, handstand pushups, pushups, and pullups.

So for those that aren’t having issues in just one or two movements (which might improve with the Handstand Pushups and Pullup template) but with upperbody strength in general, here’s a simple rotation of exercises that you can add before or after (or before and after) a WOD:

Week 1
Day 1
2 Rounds
5 Ring Dips with Turnout and 1 second pause at the top (scale with feet)
5 Skin the Cat
“Death by DB Press”
Perform one Press the first minute, two Press the second minute, etc. You have the entire minute to perform all the reps and you can rest the weight on your shoulders, but not on the ground. Note total rounds and reps. When starting, pick a weight that you can do at least 5 rounds.

Day 2
3 Rounds
5 Ring Pushups w/ 1 second pause at the top (control the descent and ascent)
3 x 10 second Flexed Arm Hang
5 Handstand Pushup Negatives

Day 3
3 Rounds
3 x 10 second Handstand Holds
5 Support Shrugs
5 Pullup Negatives

As a baseline and a simple means of tracking progress, I’d like you to post:

-Max Handstand Hold (in seconds)
-Max Ring Hold (in seconds, more advanced athletes should turn the wrists out)
-First attempt at Death by DB Press

We’ll be doing the DBDBP every week, so that’ll be our easy metric. Then we’ll re-test the Max Handstand Hold and Max Ring Hold every month.

None of these days should leave you fried or take more than 10 minutes to do. If you are getting crushed or taking forever, reduce the volume.

The key here is “do something!” Like Rip says “Your deadlift will improve with vigorous nose picking if you’ve never deadlifted before.”

Post to comments if you are going to give this a try or if you have questions.


February 1, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. I’ll give this a try. What does ring dips with turnout mean?

    Comment by Kari | February 1, 2010

  2. Note how the gymnast at the top of the ring dip turns the wrists out:

    Comment by Brian PCF | February 1, 2010

  3. Got it, thanks!! Looking forward to trying this out.

    Comment by Kari | February 1, 2010

  4. Given my sad upper body strength, I will definitely be trying this!

    Comment by Katie C | February 1, 2010

  5. Awesome. Thanks for the plan, Brian. Looks like I’ll have to get over my fear of trying “skin the cats.” I’ll get my baseline to post tomorrow.

    Comment by Kelly W | February 1, 2010

  6. Did Day 1 tonight. Max handstand hold was 2 minutes, using the 1-mississippi, 2-missippi count. Strength wise I could have held longer, but I have a weak left wrist from a prior surgery and it was just too weak to hold any longer.

    Max ring dip hold was 1:00. I didn’t get to the death by DB Press bc the 5:00 WOD was using all the DBs for the finisher, but I’ll get it tomorrow and post.

    Comment by Kari | February 2, 2010

  7. Just out of curiosity, will you be changing it up for week 2? I think I might try the HSPU plan, but this intrigues me as well.

    Comment by Sarah | February 3, 2010

  8. Sarah – not yet…

    Comment by Brian PCF | February 4, 2010

  9. Death by DB 7 rounds at 30 lbs.

    Comment by Kari | February 9, 2010

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: