Life Goals: The Pull Up

Hey everyone!

Have any of you ever seen Terminator 2, where Sarah Connor is doing her beast workouts and all her awesome pull ups?

Bangin’ them out like a champ!

Well, that movie has motivated me for at least the past 4 years to be able to do a pull up. Just one is all I need! It’s always been my “if I can do a pull up I’ll finally feel like I’m really fit” goal. Not that I don’t think I’m a pretty fit person, this is just something I feel like will push me to my next level f awesomeness.

When I first started working with my trainer some-odd-years ago, I told him dream and we got to work. We worked on the assisted pull up machine and we also did what I call “laying down pull ups” (maybe you know them as laying rows?)- where we would set the smith machine bar to about thigh height and I would lay underneath and try to pull myself towards the bar maintaining a plank position. They were super hard!

With the tools and the help of my trainer I tried super hard, and when my noodle arms didn’t start changing, I got mad and fell off the fitness wagon (we’ve all been there).

Now, back in action, I’m researching and cross training and I want this so badly! To be able to do a pull up for the spartan race would be fantastic, but even before new years is a grand feat!

Here’s what I’ve found so far:

  • Melody Schoenfeld shares her 10 moves to help prep for the pull up in her Proof is In the Pull Up article. What I really like is that a. she is a woman, so it’s more relatable and b. she shows these really hard core exercises that help mimic how to set up your abs for the actual pull up. I like how she talks about initiating the lats and I learned that using the assisted pull up machine doesn’t set you up for using the correct muscles, which is something I had started to notice when watching other people on it.
  • Steve, from NerdFitness, has some good tips in his How to Do a Pull Up for people who don’t necessarily have a lot of equipment. He also talks about the different assists either using a rubber band, chair, or person.
  • Jeff Kuhland’s “Coach, I Can’t Do Pull Ups” emphasis on mobility and not “kipping” or swinging and losing form to complete a rep. Kipping happens a lot with people. Going nice and slow makes it harder, but always makes it better.
  • Stew Smith, a former Navy SEAL, gives us the good old military workout for good pull ups in “Tips For A Better Pull Up“. Nothing better than military tips- those guys are like pros.
  • Pull Ups for Total Beginners” is another do-it-at-home kind of deal which I like. I feel like the less props you use to start, the better off you’ll be. I also just want to give props to the guy’s hat. Lookin’ good in a bucket hat.
  • Allyson Globe’s lengthy and in depth article on “How Women CAN Do Pull Ups”  was a good read for motivation. I like that she gives a quick explanation of the difference between a pull up and a chin up and what muscles are used in each. I really appreciate how detail oriented she is and how she describes the fundamentals of shoulder position and hand grips. People tend to see the big picture and the big muscles more so than the details that build your pull up from the ground up.

In my own pull up journey there is one thing I didn’t see  mentioned very much that I’ll add. Jeff covered it very briefly, but I’d like to go into it a little more- mobility. I have a stiff neck and I am sensitive and aware of it when I do upper body work. I try not to progress too quickly with weights so that I don’t compensate by hunching my shoulder or straining. I need to work on opening that up. Even in yoga I have a hard time keeping my palms together and extending my arms fully above my head. So, those of you who carry stress and tension in your neck should be mindful of this as well.

Female power! Look at those muscles!

The exercises I learned and will begin to incorporate are:

  1. Hanging and one armed hangs for time
  2. Bat wings
  3. Negative pull ups
  4. Laying rows
  5. Hanging shoulder shrugs/ lat initiating

I think that doing my push-ups, tricep push-ups, and shoulder push-ups, as well as the other arm/back exercises I do will also help.

I’ve started and feel that I’ve already mad a tiny yet notable bit of progress! I have 4 months until New Years, plenty of time!!! »♥«

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3 thoughts on “Life Goals: The Pull Up

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