Helen is among the “Women” exercises, a collection of WoDs developed by CrossFit founder Greg Glassman to check the power, velocity, endurance, and agility of CrossFit athletes. The Women WoDs are named in the best way the Nationwide Climate Service names storms as a result of they are going to depart you feeling such as you’ve been hit by a hurricane.
Helen begins with a 400-meter run adopted by kettlebell swings and kipping pull-ups. This robust exercise ought to be accomplished periodically, akin to each six months or every year, as a benchmark to measure your health progress.
Learn how to do the Helen WoD
Rating: Helen is scored “for time,” which suggests you full the exercise as rapidly as potential.
Tools Wanted: Kettlebell, pull-up bar or rig, area to run 400 meters.
Degree: Helen is an intermediate exercise, however options actions with loads of scaling choices for newcomers.
Due to its various actions, Helen is usually a complicated exercise by way of stimulus. Some athletes view it as a full-out dash whereas others view it as a quick however average effort. Regardless of the way you have a look at it, you may reap these advantages.
Helen rating requires a quick 400-meter run. Anyplace from 90 seconds to 2 minutes is nice, and Helen will check your capacity to take care of that velocity for 3 intervals with little relaxation in between.
Transitioning from a quarter-mile run to a weightlifting motion and a gymnastics motion—after which again to a different run—isn’t any simple feat. Helen will check your cardiovascular and muscular endurance. Essentially the most well-rounded athletes get the most effective scores on this WoD.
Higher Physique Energy
Kipping pull-ups and kettlebell swings are largely full-body actions, however they do tax your higher physique probably the most. After Helen, anticipate fatigue in your biceps, shoulders, traps, lats, and higher again.
Need your greatest Helen time but (or simply need to crush it in your first try)? Comply with the following pointers and step-by-step directions.
Relying in your strengths and weaknesses, the 400-meter run firstly of every spherical can both severely assist or harm you. In case you’re stronger than you’re quick (or conditioned), use the run as an energetic relaxation interval. Which means it’s best to run exhausting sufficient that your coronary heart fee elevates, however not so exhausting that you could’t transition proper to the kettlebell swings while you end.
In case you’re an awesome runner—particularly if you happen to’re a lot better at working than the opposite two actions in Helen—use the run to push your self. In case you aren’t nice at pull-ups or kettlebell swings, the 400-meter run is your probability to get forward.
How To Do Kettlebell Swings
The kettlebell swing entails lifting a kettlebell weight from the ground to the overhead place in a single easy, sweeping movement. Right here’s tips on how to do it.
- Stand together with your ft shoulder-width aside; the kettlebell ought to be in between your ft, barely in entrance of your physique. Bend over to grip the kettlebell with each fingers. Palms ought to face your physique and your backbone ought to stay in a impartial place.
- Brace your core and preserve “energetic shoulders” earlier than beginning the train. Having energetic shoulders means you retain your lats engaged, drawing the shoulder blades again and down. Hold your hips proper beneath your shoulders on the prime of the motion.
- Carry the kettlebell off of the bottom and permit it to swing barely backward between your legs. Your knees will bend barely: Consider it as going right into a quarter-squat. Hold your backbone impartial and shoulders energetic!
- Drive your hips ahead till they’re absolutely prolonged — a useful cue to recollect is to squeeze your glutes. Don’t use your arms but; the kettlebell shouldn’t journey larger than your shoulders.
- As soon as your hips are absolutely prolonged, use that momentum and your higher physique power to drag the kettlebell overhead. It’s best to attain full extension with locked-out elbows and a decent core (don’t hyperextend your again).
- Return the kettlebell to the beginning place in a managed method. Don’t drop the kettlebell from overhead.
How To Do Kipping Pull-Ups
Kipping pull-ups are a extremely technical motion distinctive to CrossFit, although the kip originates from gymnastics. The kip is a full-body motion that athletes use to create momentum, which permits them to both A) do extra reps, or B) propel themselves in methods they wouldn’t be capable of with out additional momentum.
The kipping pull-up is extra about coordination and timing than it’s about power: You have to know tips on how to transfer your physique by means of a wide range of movement whereas suspended within the air. Right here’s tips on how to do a kipping pull-up:
- Arrange: From beneath the pull-up bar, soar up and grip the bar. Your fingers ought to be exterior of your shoulders, together with your arms making a “V.”
- Provoke the kip: Start together with your physique in a decent, “hole” place and push your arms down and away on the bar. Consider this motion like a straight-arm lat pulldown on a cable machine. Hold your hips open and your lats and core tight.
- Transfer into the arch: On the prime of the hole place, your physique will begin to come again to the beginning place. Push your physique previous this place by extending your again and shoulders. In a correct arch, your head will likely be in entrance of the bar and your legs and ft will likely be behind the bar.
- Full the kip: When you attain the arch place, push down and away as soon as once more, however this time you’ll forcefully drive your hips upwards (very like in a glute bridge on the ground) and use that momentum to drag your physique as much as the bar.
- At this level, try to be near attaining the pull-up with out having bent your elbows but. Do this now: Use your higher physique power to get your chin over the bar. Your elbows ought to level towards the ground and your lats ought to be tight.
- To start one other pull-up, descend by pushing your physique away from the bar again into the hole place, then comply with the steps once more.
Each exercise presents alternatives for errors, but in addition the chance to study from them. Whether or not you’ve dedicated these errors earlier than or haven’t tried Helen but, hold the following pointers in thoughts throughout your subsequent try.
Going too quick on the run
This may increasingly appear counterintuitive, however you shouldn’t go all-out on the 400-meter run. A key element of a great Helen rating is fast transitions; that’s, it’s best to be capable of begin the kettlebell swings simply three to 5 seconds after you end the run. Push the tempo, however be cautious: In case you run too exhausting, you would possibly danger losing 30 seconds to get well earlier than starting the swings.
Nonetheless, if you happen to’re a proficient runner, you could possibly make this run quicker than most. All of it comes all the way down to strengths and weaknesses, however many CrossFitters are typically stronger than they’re conditioned, and so they’re higher off reserving their efforts for the strength-based parts.
Breaking apart the reps an excessive amount of
The Helen WoD is meant to be fast—a great rating for intermediate athletes is simply 11 to 14 minutes. In case your run takes, say, 2 minutes every time, you’re left with simply 5 to eight minutes to finish all the kettlebell swings and pull-ups.
It’s best to be capable of do every spherical of kettlebell swings in two units and every spherical of pull-ups in a single or two units. To take action, you would possibly must scale (see Modifications and Variations beneath).
Kettlebell Swing Errors
A difficult carry, the kettlebell swing could cause damage if not carried out correctly. Listed below are errors to keep away from:
- Utilizing the again as a substitute of the legs: It’s best to all the time bend your knees barely when doing a kettlebell swing. Doing so means that you can descend right into a quarter-squat and use your legs to drive the kettlebell up. In case you don’t use your legs, your again muscle tissues will compensate, which may result in soreness and even damage.
- Not extending absolutely overhead: In Helen, you’ll do American-style kettlebell swings, which (versus Russian-style) contain bringing the kettlebell overhead. In a great overhead place, your elbows will lockout and your core will keep tight.
- Letting the kettlebell drag you down: It’s best to use a kettlebell weight that means that you can end the swing in a managed method. If the kettlebell is simply too heavy, it’ll drag you down and result in kind errors, like utilizing your again muscle tissues as a substitute of your legs.
The kipping pull-up is a singular ability. Avoiding these errors may help you keep away from damage and obtain a greater time.
Not utilizing the total vary of movement on the kip: There’s no sense in kipping if you happen to don’t use the ability to its full potential. Your kip ought to contain a giant hole and a sweeping arch (like in wheel pose in yoga), so you should use momentum and the pressure of your hips to drive your physique as much as the bar.
“Suicide grip”: When doing pull-ups, it’s best to wrap your thumb across the bar. A “suicide grip” means your thumb rests on prime of the bar with the remainder of your fingers, slightly than wrapping round it. This may result in grip fatigue early, which may gradual your pull-ups at greatest and result in you slipping from the bar at worst.
Modifications and Variations
Like all CrossFit exercises, Helen will be scaled to any health degree. Listed below are a couple of methods to change this Women WoD.
Scale the gap: 400 meters might seem to be too far of a distance for newbie athletes. In that case, scale the gap to 200 meters for every spherical.
Scale the motion: This ought to be carried out for folks with accidents solely. In case you can’t run due to an damage, you may both row on the indoor rower or erg (500-meter row = 400-meter run) or cycle on the Airdyne bike (half-mile bike = 400-meter run).
Scale the load: It’s best to be capable of do all your kettlebell swings in not more than two units, however ideally unbroken (one set). In case you can’t do 11 swings, pause, and do 10 extra swings, select a lighter kettlebell. The prescribed weight for Helen is 24kg (53 kilos) for males and 16kg (35 kilos) for ladies.
Russian kettlebell swings: If an damage prevents you from extending your arms overhead, you are able to do Russian-style kettlebell swings, which contain bringing the kettlebell to shoulder top. Your arms ought to be prolonged straight out in entrance of you on this model.
Strict pull-ups: Most individuals received’t select this scaling possibility as a result of it’s truly harder than kipping pull-ups. Nonetheless, if you happen to don’t have the kip down, however you’re sturdy sufficient to finish 36 whole strict pull-ups, you may go for this.
Ring rows: Ring rows are similar to TRX rows, however carried out on gymnastics rings. To make them more durable, hold your physique as horizontal as potential. To make them simpler, convey your physique to a extra vertical place.
Leaping pull-ups: It is a nice possibility for newer athletes who don’t have a lot (or any) expertise with pull-ups. Place a field or stool beneath the bar the place you need to do your pull-ups. Stand on the field and grip the bar. Decrease your physique till your arms are absolutely prolonged, after which soar to drag your self to the bar.
Kipping pull-ups with a band: This modification ought to be reserved for athletes who can kip, however aren’t fairly sturdy sufficient to drag their physique all the best way to the bar. A resistance band offsets the athlete’s weight, permitting them to apply the kip and full vary of movement.
Contemplating the varied scaling, a newbie model of Helen would possibly seem like this:
- 200-meter run
- 15 kettlebell swings
- 9 leaping pull-ups
Security and Precautions
Earlier than beginning any exercise, it’s best to take sure precautions. Contemplate these earlier than making an attempt Helen.
Put on the best footwear
Throughout Helen, you’ll run practically 1 mile (three 400-meter intervals). For some folks, that’s not sufficient to warrant trainers, however for others—particularly athletes with prior accidents of the ankle, leg, or hip—it’s. The necessary factor is that you simply’re comfy for everything of the exercise. If which means carrying trainers as a substitute of CrossFit trainers, achieve this.
Put on grips or gloves
Shield your fingers! Kipping pull-ups are infamous for making CrossFit athletes “rip”—a blister or callus builds up after which tears, exposing tender new pores and skin beneath. Ripping normally ends in a searing ache or burn-like sensation. To keep away from this, put on grips or gloves designed for CrossFit or gymnastics.
It’s best to all the time heat up earlier than exercising, finishing each a common warm-up and a particular warm-up. Your common warm-up ought to embody some type of gentle cardio train, like jogging or biking, in addition to dynamic stretching. Your particular warm-up for Helen ought to embody gentle kettlebell swings, kip swings, and different actions that can put together your physique for the exercise.
Eat and Hydrate Beforehand
You don’t need to begin a Women WoD on an empty abdomen. Hydrate all through the day and gasoline up with wholesome fat, advanced carbohydrates, and protein. In case you’re doing Helen very first thing within the morning, eat a small however mighty breakfast, like a banana with almond butter.
Cool Down Afterward
After ending Helen, likelihood is you’ll be part of different athletes in heaps on the ground—if you happen to put in the correct quantity of effort for a Women WoD, that’s. When you’ve recovered sufficient to maneuver, be sure you shake out all that lactic acid build-up. Spherical out the day’s distance with a 400-meter gradual jog or stroll, adopted by foam rolling and static stretching. Focus in your quads, hip flexors, shoulders, and higher again.
Learn how to full the Annie "Women" CrossFit WoD