Sunday, 10 Dec 2023

Is The Rock's Slow and Steady Pullup Trolling CrossFit?

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is back at it in the gym doing pullups and he just posted a video on Instagram with a motivational message.

“No herky jerky movements. A microcosm for life/ Slow, steady precision—then go in for the kill. Finish your week strong.”

It’s generating strong reactions, because some people felt he was throwing shade on the whipping motion of kipping pullups, so popular with the CrossFit crowd.

For example:

“Rock redefines kipping as herky jerky.”

“No CrossFit sh*t technique there!”

“CrossFitters are in an uproar over this strong steady pull up!”

But people are also dissing The Rock’s technique.

“His chin doesn’t even go over the bar. LOL.”

“See even The Rock struggles with pull ups.”

“I love SLOW PULL-UPS!!”

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No herky jerky movements. A microcosm for life/ Slow, steady precision – then go in for the kill. Finish your week strong. #ironparadise #jump #WSR

A post shared by therock (@therock) on

It begs the question, does your chin have to go over the bar—and what is perfect form?

The answer: It depends on your training goal, and your mobility. The chest-to-bar pullup may be the CrossFit standard, but that doesn’t mean it’s meant for you. And if you’re aiming to solely grow your lats, or if you have shoulder issues, the chest-to-bar pullup may not be your best option.

“The Rock is not doing a full pull-up, but for the purpose of what he’s doing, it’s perfect,” says Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. “He’s using a wide grip and crushing his lats as opposed to trying to do it as a total-body motion. It’s a bodybuilding motion with a particular purpose: to grow those lats. He’s also not bothering to pull his chest to the bar because he’s focusing on those lats, on adding width to his back instead of hitting his mid back.”

While it doesn’t hurt to aim to raise your chest to the bar, don’t sweat it too hard, adds Samuel, especially if you have shoulder issues. Pull up as high as you can and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Using a slow, smooth, steady cadence also has different benefits than the kipping motion you’ll see CrossFitters often use. A slow, steady cadence allows you to keep your lats under tension for longer, flushing blood into the muscles for maximum growth. CrossFitters use the kip, meanwhile, to pile up plenty of reps while not placing their muscles under the same strain.

That begs another question: How many reps did Dwayne do? We’ll probably never know!

If you’re new to this exercise, check out this article on how to master the pullup and if you’re thinking about what bar to get for your home, consider these great options.

And if you are wondering which are generally considered the easiest and hardest variations, use this list:


Negative chinup (underhand grip and jump into the up position, then lower your body)

Band assisted chinup


Mixed grip chinup (one underhand grip, one overhand grip)


Pullup (overhand grip)

Wide-grip pullup

The Rock’s wide-grip, slow-lower variation

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