17 May, 2012
My Pull-up Story
Out of all the countless body exercises known to man there is one which stands apart from all others. One that separates all the men from the boys. One exercise that commands the respect of all those who cannot duplicate it. Very simple yet nearly impossible for even the most faithful of gym rats. The mighty pull-up!
Ever get into an argument with your friends over where to eat lunch or what movie to go see? Rock, paper, scissors doesn’t work for me. There’s too much left to chance. If I ever want to get my way I’ll suggest, “whoever can do the most pull-ups gets to decide.” To be able to say that AND back it up gives me a great sense of pride and accomplishment because nobody is going to take you up on it. But how do you get to that point? How is someone able to conquer the pull-up bar over and over again? Where does that confidence come from? Two words… HARD WORK! If I can do it, you can also do it.
At the age of 42 I attempted to do my first pull-up since I was in grade school performing the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. Back then I could breeze through all the other exercises only to hit a brick wall when it came to the pull-up portion of the test. I couldn’t even do a single one. My first attempt in my local gym at age 42 went much the same way. Not a single one. It took a lot of guts and humility to give the ole pull-up bar a try that day and you, my friends, must do the same. Humble yourself and realize you’re going to look pretty stupid the first time you attempt a pull-up and you’re floundering around up there, dangling from the bar like a shrunken head on the rear view mirror of a 72’ Camaro! Ignore whoever is watching you and DON’T GIVE UP! Strength will come even if you can’t do a single pull-up at first. Your body grows stronger with every attempt.
I see a lot of people at the gym using the weight assisted pull-up machines and my thought is, “What a waste of time!” You can either do a pull-up or you can’t. Giving your body an option that is somewhere in-between is not going to help you achieve your goals. Start simple. If you cant seem to make it all the way up then just hang there in the best pull-up position you can muster and hold it for as long as you can before you drop. Your body is getting stronger. I always end my pull up sessions with doing one more than I want to and holding myself in the top of the pull-up position for as long as I can. I do this because it reminds me of my very first day of doing pull-ups. The first time I tried all I could do was hang there from the bar, half way up, but refusing to drop until I was exhausted. I rested for a day and low and behold the next time I could do one. Soon it was five. Then 2 sets of five. Now I normally do 5 sets of 10. I’m not one of those guys who can do endless amounts of pull-ups but what really is the purpose in that anyways? If I have to leap over a 6 foot wall during the course of my life I’m not going to stop and go back to jump over it again 100 times!
Pull-ups have given me strong hands, forearms, biceps, shoulders and a strong back. There’s nothing more rewarding than when someone gives you a hug and they say, “You feel really strong!” I’m also not a believer in using a “kip” when doing pull-ups, which is using the momentum of your body and legs swinging in order to propel yourself up and over the bar. I think it’s a cheap pull-up. It’s kind of like doing pushups on your knees. If you’re first starting out remember, Go at your own pace. Don’t be afraid to look silly in front of people at the gym. You have a lot more guts than most people. Your mind set should be, “I’m going to improve no matter what!” Never give up! I’m living proof that the impossible can be done. At age 45, I can do more pull-ups than young bucks half my age. You’re going to get stronger. Just be patient with yourself and give it a little time.
You want to know my secret you say? Well, nowadays when I can’t make it to the gym, (which is quite often), I rely on my ceiling mounted Studbar pull-up bar in my garage. I searched long and hard for the right bar for me and Studbar fits my needs perfectly. I tried out those cheap ones that hang in your doorway and they just don’t cut it. With the Studbar you won’t have that cramped, claustrophobic feeling of doing pull-ups in your closet. The Studbar allows you to incorporate both close and wide grips variations to maximize the muscle target zone for more strength and power. The Studbar is a gym quality item that is constructed to last for years and years. Try one and see for yourself.