Overcoming the Fear of the Pull-Up

As a woman who competed in the pole vault for several years in college, I was forced to learn how to do several pull ups in a row. I HATED them. I still have vivid memories of my college teammate holding my feet to provide leverage as I heaved my way up.   When I was done with pole vault, I was done with pull ups. That is until today.

Prior to arriving at the gym this morning, I had a mini track workout made up in my mind. That all changed when I ran into my friend Janis, who is in charge of group exercise at the Childress Klein YMCA. She was fresh off of a CrossFit WOD (Workout of The Day) that she said I HAD to try. Hey, I’m always up for a challenge. She jotted the workout down on a piece of paper for me.

photo 3-31 Let me translate. As fast as you can, do the following:

  • Run 400m
  • Do 30 pull ups
  • Do 30 push press (I used a dumbbell in both hands)
  • Do 30 burpees
  • Run 400m, then repeat the circuit doing 20 of each exercise
  • Run 400m, then repeat the circuit doing 10 of each exercise

photo 2-7

Um, I can’t even remember the last time that I did one pull up, and now you think I can do 60? Janis reassured me that I could do these assisted. Perfect. These bands can be used to provide various degrees of resistance to make pull ups just a little easier for people like me. I was gassed after the first set. The workout took me approximately 15 minutes, followed by abs (for a total time right at 25 minutes). No less than an hour after the workout, I could already tell that I was going to be sore (from the pull ups). With that said, I went to the internet to get some reassurance that I could find a way to get better at this exercise.

photo 4-20It was then that I came across an article on FoxNews.com that addressed the fact that the U.S. Marines have actually delayed a pull-up requirement for women after over half of female recruits failed the challenge. The article offers keys to pull-up training including areas that women need to focus heavily on to do a proper pull-up: upper body, back, and core. Did you see that last item on the list? CORE. Remember my post on the importance of core training? The biggest take back that I got from the article is that doing pull-ups takes commitment (a much bigger commitment for women than men for various reasons). Doing a workout like this is always grounding for me. I like to think that I am in pretty good shape, but it just takes something a little different for me to see my weaknesses.

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