In Hot Pursuit: A Pull-up

After lengthy procrastination contemplation, I’ve decided on a new challenge. Well, not new, exactly, but new for this year. :)

After almost four years of regular workouts, I still can’t do a pull-up. That’s mostly because I don’t try, and I don’t try because…well, pull-ups are hard.

pullup bar pullup weight training
pullup with neutral grip

(Click on image to view this exercise…)

I can accomplish the pull-up demonstrated above as long as I’m on the assisted pull-up machine with about half my body weight (which is more than this woman’s) being propelled by the machine. Take away the support and I am like a dangling piece of spaghetti just hanging on the bars.

But, no more, I say! I am dusting off my old pull-up goal (it was filed between my old C25k goal and my 100 push-ups goal) and trying again. I’ve read that the best way to learn how to do a pull-up is to do a pull-up*, but that’s just plain stupid, in this case, because if I could do a pull-up it wouldn’t be a goal that’s not working so well for me. This time, I’m using the approach recommended int this Sparkpeople article:

Phase 1 involves starting with seated lat pulldowns- 2-3 sets of 12-15 good form reps at 25% of body weight. I’m currently doing about 50-60% of body weight with these, so I’m moving right into phase 2.

Phase 2 uses standing lat pulldowns (haven’t done those in ages!), working to 2-3 sets of 12-15 good form reps at 50% of body weight. No clue where I am in this phase, but I’ll know after today’s workout. :)

Phase 3 continues the work from Phase 2, working to 80% of body weight, before moving to Phase 4.

Phase 4 assures me I should be ready to complete 2-5 pull-ups. I shall be happy with 1 pull-up. It doesn’t even have to be pretty.

If you’ve been reading here a while, you know better than to hold your breath waiting for me to complete this challenge. Generally what happens is that I enthusiastically chase the goal for a bit, then grow bored and move on to something else. It’s fine with me, because my truest joy is in the chase itself and as long as I’m pursuing something, I’m happy.

You can bet your bottom dollar, though, that if I ever DO complete a pull-up, 100 push-ups, or a 5k, a Cake Day will be declared. :)

What’s your current “hot pursuit”? Will it bother you if you don’t reach the finish line, or are you content with your efforts? (There’s no right or wrong answer to that, in my opinion.)

*In general, I agree with the notion that the best way to learn how to do something is by doing it, but I think it works better for things like public speaking or knitting. But I could be wrong.

26 thoughts on “In Hot Pursuit: A Pull-up

  1. LOL to public speaking and knitting. Women are typically weak in the upper body, aren’t they? I think that’s a great goal doing the pull ups, especially in phases – spaghetti arms!

    I have a few hot pursuits going, but I will not be mad if I don’t make it, but I will try my best and carry on from there :-)

  2. Go Cammy Go!!! Reach that pull up goal…..and you will be rewarded with a batch of weight watchers raspberry scones in the mail!!! (thanks for your comment today!!!) Have a good day!

  3. You’re right about the knitting. Definantly right about the knitting.

    O.K.- my goal for the year. Run 1000 miles. Not at one time, just throughout the year. I am fairly goal oriented, I do think I will make it without getting bored. However, I am a FIRM believer that it is all about the CHASE of the goal that makes it fun… not the actual accomplishment!

    Thanks Cammy!!

  4. That is so a goal of mine too! They are part of P90X which I will eventually get around to trying. I can’t do one. Not even close. I had wondered how to do it if you can’t DO it.

  5. I remember the presidential fitness tests in grade school when I was younger. I couldn’t ever do even 1. I was always so embarassed and discouraged that I wasn’t fit, was overweight (at that age you call it “FAT”) and couldn’t do anything. I always flunked on this test. It was demoralizing when I saw other kids my age doing all of this so easily.

    I hope you make it! I can’t imagine having enough upper body strength to do one, but I’ve never stuck with the weight training past 3 months, so that could be the problem. Go girl!!! Keep it up!

  6. I think I am pretty good at doing pull up……on the assisted machine LOL!! It has honestly never crossed my mind that the machine might actually be keeping me from doing an actual pull up (what a concept). I love your step by step plan to get to a pull up. I may consider doing this myself if I can pull myself away from the machine and risk my ego. :-) I am looking at this as a challenge/motivation. Keep us posted.

  7. There is a difference between a pull up and chin up – chin ups are easier with the palms facing you underhand rather than overhand. Maybe try starting with those?

    When I was on a chin up goal, I did reverse ones. I got a box and stood under the bar. Then I had my chin over the bar and gripped it, all while standing on the box. I then lifted my legs and crossed the ankles so I was basically at the top of the chin up. Then I slowly lowered myself down. I just repeated that a lot and then one day tried the reverse and I was able to do it!

  8. You can do it! Even I did it once upon a time after a big weight loss and major fitness training. Wow, did my arms look buff. But, I am the same person inside – thin or fat, fit or flabby.

  9. Good for you Cammy! I don’t know if you recall last year when I was doing this. Trying for the wide grip but I did get the close grip 1 or 2. My prob, I get too strong with the other back exercises & never seem to get the pull ups that good & never got but 1 almost wide grip. My back get way too wide so I gave this goal up & am fine with that cause I can do a lot of other things plus my back does fine without them. I just wanted to do them.. 😉 So I guess for this goal, I was content with the trying….. usually it is that way but every so often, not getting there pisses me off! :-)

  10. My current hot pursuit is losing ten pounds… and I lost half a pound in the past week! Hurray! This is a huge victory for me, as small as it may seem.

    Half the fun of a goal is the journey of it :)

    Have you tried the 20 pull ups challenge? They have a good program: I did it for a little while but I never finished it… and I did chin ups instead of pull ups. I couldn’t do pull ups, but I taught myself how to do chin ups and I figured I’d be able to go on from there.

  11. That sounds like a great challenge! I wish I could do pull ups too but my upper body strength right now is, well, nonexistent. I wish you the best of luck! You can do it!!

  12. Hey, I do the lat pull downs regularly, and then try the assisted pull -ups. So maybe eventually I’ll get there. I’m more interested in your cake day actually. I’m sure I could do one pull up if it meant I got a piece of cake!

  13. Hey, I do the lat pull downs regularly, and then try the assisted pull -ups. So maybe eventually I’ll get there. I’m more interested in your cake day actually. I’m sure I could do one pull up if it meant I got a piece of cake!

  14. I don’t have a fitness “hot pursuit” at the moment. Right now I am just focused on continuing to make forward progress on my weightloss. But, in the future, I’d love to be able to do push ups. Real ones, not girl ones. I’ve never been able to do even the girlie ones.

  15. I am in HOT PURSUIT of being still enough and slow enough to NOT keep checking my watch during yoga
    sounds easy—it isnt for me

  16. Doing a pull-up is some impressive, advanced-level stuff in my eyes!

    As a member of the Generally Unfit club, I aspire to be able to do boy push-ups. One day! :)

  17. I have never ever been able to do a pull up! Not even when I was a skinny kid!

    I am still working on my upper arms and the bat wings. Been lazy about that lately as it is cold in the garage where I work out.

  18. You know, I can’t do a pull-up either. I am doing better though because I can hold plank for quite a while; if you achieve this, you’ll have to post a pic of you kissing your guns, because you will be one bad-ass mama!
    btw, I was disappointed to learn that ‘Cake Day’ doesn’t involve ME getting any cake.

  19. I think that is a really hard challenge and I wish you well.

    I am a bulldog with new challenges of the intellectual sort – not so much of the manual/physical sort. I like to learn everything there is about something – putting it into practice frequently evades my abilities!

  20. I love your honesty! That is how I am usually, if it gets old I move on and find a different one.

    I have tried very hard to do push-ups and its taken me about 1 year to finally be able to do a lot. Keep working on something and you’ll get to your goal.

  21. Hey Cammy!

    My current goal is to go from the 280lbs I’m at now, down to 220lbs by mid-June! My friend is coming back from Africa, and I really wanna see that Jaw of hers drop 😛 I went from 350lbs to 280lbs in about 5 months of total workouts, so as long as I respect my nutrition plan and go hard with my P90X, I’ll nail this thing!

    Good luck to you on your Pull up endeavour! :)

  22. Aww, don’t worry it’s fine. It happens to all of us especially me. Last year I was so enthusiastic to go back biking. Well, I felt the rush at first being free and everything but after a couple of months I got bored. But, at least being bored means I have to look for a new goal and get excited again! Can’t wait to see your exciting updates!

  23. Coming in late, but this post made me laugh cause I hear you on the pull up pain. Hate those things! 😛 Good luck with your challenge though- or at least, enjoy the pursuit!

  24. Pingback: Sharing the Love: Straight Arm Lat Pulldown

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