Six Month Pull-Up Challenge
A pull-up is a full-bodied exercise that can be very intimidating! In PE, I’d stare helplessly at the rope dangling from the gymnasium ceiling. I’d heave with all my might, getting perhaps six inches higher and drop helplessly to the ground. Sometimes I wondered if it was true, were girls generally too weak to do pull-ups? I’d watch the other girls and boys successfully complete their climbs and think, nope, it’s just me. Fortunately, experiences as an adult showed me that we all have a deeper capacity than we give ourselves credit.
Many people bemoan lack of bicep strength in pulling themselves up, but the primary movers are our latissimus dorsi, or the superficial muscles of our lower back. Our deep back muscles, the erector spinae, work with the abdominal muscles- rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis, to hold our spine in a neutral, instead of arched (extended to hyper-extended) position. Our belly works with the inner thighs (adductors) and gluteus muscles (hip extensors) to keep our pelvis connected to our hips. Yes, the biceps and grip are involved, but it’s the weakness in the larger muscles that really stand out.
Early March brought an opportunity to resume pole aerial training after a4.5 yearhiatus. 😢Oh, I needed this! I had spent over 4 years on pole, working on full body strengthening and hauling myself up and down. I’d overcome my concepts of being weak and clumsy. To be in an enforced break for equally long was disappointing at best, and temporarily cost my hard-earned abilities.
Going in this time around, I knew I was deeply de-conditioned for my favorite activity. I was sad, but not surprised, to find that I could no longer even do one pull-up. Oof. I challenge myself: within six months, I’ll be able to do not just one, but at least 5. In my case, chronic weakness in the abdominal muscles and adductors (inner thighs) override the strength in my back, making it harder for me to do this properly.
Sharing my experiences, many of my clients also want the strength to do pull-ups. With that in mind, I designed a six-month personal pull-up challenge to help my clients develop their strength for performing unassisted pull-ups.
Here’s how the Six Month Pull-Up Challenge will work.
The program will run April 1-October 31. Anyone may join the challenge throughout the first week of every month. People will be listed on the board as they join, beginning with the number of pull-ups they can accomplish with assistance… or not.
I’d like to emphasize that this is a personal challenge. At my best, I could do 7 pull-ups in a row. My goal in the next six months is to get as close to that as I can. For some people, doing one unassisted pull-up by the end of six months may be phenomenal! Others may even surpass me. (YEAH!) All I care about is that you enjoy beating your current personal best. Can you do 5 on a 2” super band now? With dedicated work, you’ll be able to accomplish unassisted pull-ups by the end of the challenge.
We’ll begin in April with strengthening the “gripping” muscles- hands, wrists and forearms. We’ll begin shoulder stabilizing as well as core activation. In case you thought your lower body was going to be left out and just hang there, think again! The muscles of the inner thighs and the gluteus complex also help form the pelvic floor and deep core, which are crucial for performing this exercise skillfully while limiting risk of injury.
There will be some work with fat loss- the less mass you have to move, the easier it is. You’ll also develop integrated strength and stability. Each month will build on the previous, but again- I designed this program so anyone can jump in at any month and improve.
Get your name up on the board by messaging me to do your pull-up test this week. Let’s see just how far you can go!
Are you in?