In fact, pull-ups were the very last thing we did (except for a 10 minute boot camp style, kick-your butt workout)! We spent time doing exercises that prepped our neuromuscular system, stabilized and mobilized our joints and strengthened our deep muscles. All of the exercises we practiced were done to prevent injury and strength all muscles that enable us to do our very first un-assisted pull up! And you know what is funny? Most of the women came to the next class saying “What did we do the other night? I’m sore here, here and here!”
Like I’ve mentioned before, pull-ups are a great exercise to incorporate into your regular fitness routine.You use so many muscles (and large muscle groups) at one time and that means you get you stronger, faster. Pull-ups cause your body burn a ton of calories during the workout and because you build muscle, you are building metabolically active tissue, i.e. burn more calories at rest!
Being able to do a pull-up is often a goal set by women just to see if they can do it. Imagine the sense of accomplishment and empowerment you feel after lifting your own body weight off the ground? Growing up, remember we had to take the Presidential Fitness Tests? The girls were always expected to do less. Girl push-ups, run slower and hang on a bar while the boys had to do actual pull-ups. We were begin told in a subtle way that girls weren’t as strong or physically capable. Nonsense! We should have been expected to do at least one pull-up and I bet we would have all been secretly impressed by the girl who did it! Looking back, I can’t really remember if I could have done a pull-up or not. I’ll never know. My point is twofold. One, we should have higher expectations for the physical capabilities of young girls and ourselves. Two, setting a goal of doing a pull-up will do more for you than get your body strong and lean, it will strengthen your mind!
Here are some Action Steps for you:
1. Add some of the following exercises to your program at least three times per week to develop stability, mobility, and strength you need to be able to do a pull-up.
- Arm Bar – Lie on your side, bottom leg straight and top leg bent. Hold dumbbell in top hand, straight elbow & wrist. Keep shoulder depressed. While holding dumbbell towards ceiling, rotate top hop towards floor like you want to lie on your belly-don’t let top arm move from original position. Make sure that the weight is heavy enough to challenge the shoulder joint.
- Trap/Adductor mobility/flexibility – Sit against wall with head, shoulders and butt touching wall. Bend knees so soles of feet are touching one another. Put the back of your hands and arms against the wall. Slowly glide the elbows downward, keeping the shoulders depressed and back of hands against wall. Squeeze the shoulder blades down and together. Do not let the low back, head or back of hands come away from the wall.
- Inverted towel rows – Put a towel around a low bar. Get under the bar and grab the towel. Pull yourself up, leading with the chest, to the bar. Do not allow your hips to “sink” towards the ground.
- Assisted pull-up. Attach a super band around a high bar. Put your knee in the super band and grab the bar. Pull yourself up to the bar as the super band assists you.
2. Challenge yourself to do an un-assisted pull-up. Mark it on the calendar. Do exercises, like the ones above, three times per week to improve your shoulder stability and mobility, core stability and strength, grip strength and back strength. Practice assisted pull-ups or negatives.
Thanks, Paul for a great class! We all learned a ton from you! Thanks to the bootcampers who participated in this event! You were great sports, especially for trying all of the pull-up variations! Thanks to Tracy and The Little Gym for allowing us use of gym for boot camp and clinics like this. Also, thanks to my new friend Jenny Farber of J.L. Fit who inspired me to hold this clinic.
Here are some pictures from the clinic and believe it or not…no pull-up photos! We were to busy working hard!