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Pull-ups are so hard for women

Posted Oct 24 2009 10:04pm

pull-ups-exercise-2

I don’t want to generalize, but pull-ups seem to be a really hard exercise for women. There are some ladies who have the strength to do pull-ups but unfortunately I’m not one of them.

Pull-ups are the most challenging exercise for me. I’ve tried many times to do them, but haven’t been all that successful unless I use one of those machine where it uses weights to balance my own weight (such as a Nautilus or Stairmaster Gravitron) so it’s much easier.

A few weeks ago, I asked one of the personal trainers at my gym to spot me (help me if I wasn’t able to make it on my own) and together we managed to do three pull-ups. On my own, I wasn’t even able to even complete one pull-up.

I’ve noticed that men at the gym do pull-ups with ease and when they’ve mastered the basics, they start adding fancy moves like:

* raising their legs at a 45 degree angle

* raising their legs at a 90 degree angle

* adding extra weight from their waist (I’ve seen guys add up to two plates of 45 lbs (that’s an extra 90 lbs on top of their own weight), and these were not 20-year-old men … they guys were well into their 40s)

* raising their bodies above the bar and doing a sort of arm extension on top of the bar (one guy from the gym who is like an Asian god — his name is Caine — is so strong and so adept at doing pull-ups it puts you to shame, and he’s in his mid-40s!). This technique is properly called the “muscle-up” pull-up (maybe because it uses every single muscle in your upper body?!).

* the really gutsy guys will do pull-ups with one arm!

* towel pull-ups (those are almost like military-style pull-ups)

Every time I see men doing pull-ups, I become quite envious because my upper body is not yet strong enough for me to do even as little as 6 of them consecutively.

>>> So what are pull-ups?

Pull-ups are all upper body, and that’s still a weakness for me. I’ve come a long way with my upper body strength, but I was born with small arms that took hours of training to strengthen.

There are many people who do pull-ups by swinging their bodies or by adding a sort of skipping/jerking movement, but alas, they aren’t doing the exercise properly.

Proper pull-ups are a smooth, continuous movement that really relies on your back muscles for the pull as opposed to your arm (I had to learn that the hard way).

As I said, there are many ways of executing pull-ups, including the following variations:

* Standard pull-ups

* Weighted pull-ups

* Behind the next pull-ups

* One-armed pull-ups

* Muscle-up pull-ups

* Supine row pull-ups

* Mixed grip pull-ups

I was going to spend a lot of time describing these, but I noticed Wikipedia has a library of  pull-ups exercise videos, so check it out to see exactly how the different pull-ups are executed: Pull-up (exercise)

If you are looking for a new challenge and an effective way to strengthen your body, then you should definitely consider pull-ups.

You know by now that I’m big on doing exercises properly and since I’ve seen so many men do a bad job executing pull-ups, I recommend you book a session with a trainer to learn how to do them right because you don’t want to injure your back or pull any muscles!

I’ll end this post with a nice sample of women who have the required upper body strength to execute pull-ups correctly. Ladies, I bow in front of all that strength!

Here are a few videos of women doing pull-ups successfully

>>> Eight wide grip pull-ups

>>> Who says girls can’t do pull-ups?

>>> How to exercise biceps: military pull-up exercise for your biceps

>>> Pull-ups: Nicole Weeks

>>> Wide grip pull-ups

>>> More pull-ups (the camera angle is a bit weird, but you can clearly see how strong this woman is!)

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik

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