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Coach Sommer

360 Pulls - A Multi-Plane Pulling Exercise

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Coach Sommer


Working front and back levers alone can be a successful strategy for building lever static strength. However, adding a straight arm multi-plane pulling variation to the normal static hold work can usually significantly accelerate strength gains. 360 Pulls are an excellent exercise to begin with for several reasons:

1) There are many progressions available for the movement, which allow for the gradual incremental development of strength.
2) Due to the many variations available, it is usually possible to train this movement without the aid of a spotter.
3) In addition to building substantial degrees of straight arm/straight body strength, 360 Pulls are also quite helpful in building active flexibility within the shoulder girdle.

It is most comfortable to perform 360 Pulls on the Xtreme Rings, however parallel bars (or something similar that allows the legs room to transit between the arms) will also work well. It should be noted however, that the fixed nature of the parallel bars will have a tendency to increase the pressure on the elbow. The athlete demonstrating the 360 pulls in the accompanying video vastly prefers working 360 pulls on the rings for this very reason.

NOTE: Do not train 360 Pulls unless your grip strength is adequate to safely support yourself while hanging upside down. Failure to respect this necessary caveat can result in a sudden and painful fall onto your favorite cranium :(.

Beginning from a straight arm hang, pull the body upside down to an inverted hang position. Continue the movement by lowering the body behind your hands into a German hang. A German hang is the position where the feet are pointing down to the ground behind with the hands still hanging onto the rings. Entry into and out of the German hang will require a significant degree of active flexibility, especially as you descend deeper into the movement. From the German hang, pull up and out back to an inverted hang position and thence back to a standard hang. This constitutes one repetition.

Be sure to allow the body an adequate opportunity to become comfortable in the German hang position, especially if you are coming to Gymnastic Strength Training™ from a weight lifting background and the resultant limitations in shoulder girdle range of motion. Do not overly stress or strain to reach the maximum limit of your flexibility, but allow the range of movement to develop naturally over the course of time. Below is a photo of a German hang.

360%20Pulls.jpg

As a side note, any of the following progressions may initially be done with bent arms as needed. This will greatly ease the initial difficulty of progressing onward to a new variation. My recommendation is to proceed from bent-arm to straight-arm for each of the following individual progressions.

360 Pull Progressions:
1) Tight tuck - Perform a 360 Pull with the body curled tightly into a tuck position.

2) Advanced tuck - Perform a 360 Pull with the legs tucked, but with the back flat.

3) Piked - Perform a 360 Pull with the legs straight in a pike position with the legs relatively close to the chest. Allow the back to curl as necessary.

4) Advanced pike -Perform a 360 Pull in a pike with the back flat.

5) Advanced L sit - Perform a 360 Pull with the back flat and the legs held in a L-sit position.

6) ½ lay - This position will entail a substantial increase in difficulty. The back will remain flat but, unlike the other variations, the hips will now be completely extended with the knees bent to 90 degrees. It is especially important to focus on maintaining a flat back during the pull out of the German hang. At first, a small swing may be necessary to initiate the rise out of the German hang.

7) Straight body - A common mistake made with straight body 360 Pulls, is to allow the straight line of the body to break by pulling the hips up first out of the German hang. This is incorrect. Arching slightly in the lower back and then pulling the heels up first should initiate the pull out of the bottom. To move out of the German hang, you may once again find it quite helpful to use a small swing to drive the heels upward. As your strength improves, decrease the amount of swing used.


I recommend inserting 360 Pulls into your workouts in one of two ways. First separately performing your front lever and/or back lever for half your current max static hold and then afterwards performing a set of the 360 Pulls. You may either go directly into the 360 Pulls after the static work or rest 30 to 60 seconds and then perform the 360 Pulls. This would constitute one set; perform 2-3 sets. Rest 2-3 minutes in between sets.

The second choice is to use insert the 360 Pulls directly into your static strength training. This option is referred to as embedded static strength training. In essence, we are embedding a static hold in the middle of an exercise; in this case the 360 Pulls.

Yours in Fitness,
Coach Sommer

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Alex

Thanks Coach these look superb. Will work my way through ASAP.

-Alex Woodland

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Edward Smith

Coach Sommer would you suggest implementing the 360 pulls either of the two ways? does that make sense? also do you think it's suitable to put these in every time you train front and back levers?

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Danny

Hi Coach,

This seems like a nice exercise for me, but what is the difference with 'Skin the cats'? Doing a skin the cat with straight arms and straight body is a 360 pull, or am I totally missing something..

Greets, Danny.

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Coach Sommer

A skin the cat, or German hang as I prefer to call it, is the stretch position at the bottom of the movement as shown in the photo. There may or may not be a pulling exercise associated with a German hang. A 360 pull is the movement into and out of the German hang, as well as the other half of lowering forward through a front lever to a hang and returning to inverted. This may be done in a tuck, pike, 1/2 lay or straight body position; it may also be done in a combination of these positions such as lowering into the German hang with a 1/2 lay and then pulling out with a pike.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Paul
Hi Coach,

This seems like a nice exercise for me, but what is the difference with 'Skin the cats'? Doing a skin the cat with straight arms and straight body is a 360 pull, or am I totally missing something..

Greets, Danny.

In a skin the cat you basically do a full hanging leg raise at the start. In a 360 pull you are pulling to a front lever and then to an inverted hang so it's quite different. If you did a skin the cat with straight arms and body then it's not a skin the cat. :)

Paul.

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Coach Sommer

The advanced variation of the 360 pull requires the pull through front lever, it is not however mandatory; there are other variations open to you. You may do a hanging leg lift to get to an inverted position or you may swing slightly and tuck up to an inverted position. You may also lower the rings to head high and then jump up into an inverted position. You may even find that you need to bend the arms at first. It is not the body position that matters, it is the fact that the body is pulling through a 360 degree arc of movement back and forth between a hang and a German hang.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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