This Little Miggy Stayed Home: How To Do A Pull Up (when you're almost 40!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

How To Do A Pull Up (when you're almost 40!)

Hey you guys! It's been a while since I've done an update on my fitness goals for my upcoming 40th birthday. You can read my other fitness posts here, here and here.

If you remember I want to do 10 pull ups by my 40th birthday. Before starting on this goal I've never even been able to do one pull-up. Not one! Not even a little bit! My current record is 4--which feels really big for me! And it has taken a lot of effort to get here. That being said I have less than 2 months and 10 pull ups is A LOT. So we'll see.

Today I thought I'd tell you a little about how I got to the point of actually being able to do a pull up. I mean if you can't even pull yourself up a little bit, how are you going to be able to get to the point of doing an actual pull up and eventually many pull ups? So here are my best tips for getting to the point of actually being able to do a real deal, legit, big-girl pull up. First, it should be noted that you'll need some sort of bar to pull yourself up on. I purchased this one.

1. So my first tip comes from my sister-in-law. If you can't even do 1 pull up you start by jumping up to the top of the pull up bar and slowly lower yourself down (as illustrated by my little GIF above). Do that everyday, 3 times a day and each time slowly count to 10 as your lower yourself. In the beginning this was really challenging for me, especially by the third one! This is a really great exercise and starts to give your body a feel for all the muscles involved in doing a pull up--lats, abs, and arms! According to my sister-in-law this exercise alone done daily can help you achieve pull-up goals. But for me, a super weakling apparently, it wasn't cutting it.

2. Which brings me to my second tip--weight training. My arm routine is 20 push ups, 10-12 bicep curls, 10-12 shoulder presses, 10-12 standing upright rows, 10-12 lateral raises and 10-12 front raises (I do these together as a set), and 10-15 triceps dips. I do this entire set 3 times (decreasing my push-ups from 20 the first set, to 15 and then 15 the next two sets.) Um, it's hard! But I love that overtime I've seen improvement in my ability and strength. I've increased my weights starting with 8 lbs. per arm to 13lbs. per arm and even 15 lbs. per arm on some exercises. I know many women are afraid of lifting with heavy weights, but from everything I've read if you want to see results, lift heavy and fewer reps. I used to hear all the time that you should lift lighter with more reps, but it's really, really hard to bulk up like a true weight lifter. For me, it's been less reps, heavier weights. Additionally, as mentioned in previous posts I've started to include a protein shake after my workouts and in general have been more mindful of my protein intake, as means of getting my guns in shape.

3. This last exercise is great option if you already happen to have a set of workout straps or a low bar somewhere in your house. We have work out straps similar to these ones, but my husband got them for less than $10. Personally I wouldn't invest in any special equipment just for this one move, but I thought I'd show it to you just in case you have the equipment as it is rather helpful. This is called an angled pull up. The great thing about this is that you can slowly increase your weight resistance just by changing the angle at which you do this pull up. In the beginning you start at a very high angle and pull yourself up with little resistance. Eventually you should work your way up to laying on the floor with the straps hanging directly above your arms and shoulders and pull yourself up.

So that's it! With these three tips, and an overall workout routine that includes 20-30 minute total body workouts, yoga, walking, I've been able to get to the point of doing pull ups. In real life! This is seriously exciting for me.

--There is some discussion about the difference between a pull-up and a chin-up. Technically I've been doing chin-ups. Most people consider a chin-up to be easier than a pull-up. From what I've read it depends on the person. For example, my 9 year old finds pull-ups easier than chin-ups! For me the chin-ups are easier and are what I've been working towards. Since this is a personal goal I'm not going to split hairs between a chin-up and a pull-up and I feel great about my progress.

--I should also mention that I don't do my pull-ups (or chin-ups) from completely straight arms. I'm not a professional body builder. Again for me I feel really proud of my progress, but for any true fitness fanatics out there, they might cry foul if they see that I start with slightly bent arms. Just out of curiosity, are there any fitness fanatics who want to weigh in on this?

--It's interesting to see how different bodies are more naturally capable of and I try to keep this in mind. For example, when I was already in the process of working toward this goal but still couldn't do one pull-up a friend of mine said, "I've never tried a pull up before...let's see if I can do it." And she went to the pull-up bar and proceeded to do 2-3 pull ups right then and there! I couldn't believe it! She told me not to feel bad though because she didn't even think she could do 10 push-ups in a row. Which did make me feel slightly better because I can do 25-30 push ups. Like anything, natural ability can certainly play a role in fitness goals.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, this is not about how I look, but about how I feel. That's not to say I don't fight the demons of body image, I do. Daily. But it's been really satisfying to set a measurable goal, and watch and feel as my body has adapted to the stress I've been putting on it by growing stronger week after week. Hmm...sounds a little bit like life. 

Best of luck with those pull-up goals!

1 comment:

  1. I love it!! Nice work Miggy! Thanks for giving me a shout out on your super famous blog. You really are a tough mother.