Part of my workout routine at personal training involves pull-ups. Up until yesterday, they were always assisted by a rubber band. Paul has been changing to bands that offer less and less resistance, until finally a few weeks ago he said, “That’s it. Next time we’re going to no band.”
exercise researchers from the University of Dayton found 17 normal-weight women who could not do a single overhand pull-up. Three days a week for three months, the women focused on exercises that would strengthen the biceps and the latissimus dorsi — the large back muscle that is activated during the exercise. They lifted weights and used an incline to practice a modified pull-up, raising themselves up to a bar, over and over, in hopes of strengthening the muscles they would use to perform the real thing. They also focused on aerobic training to lower body fat.
By the end of the training program, the women had increased their upper-body strength by 36 percent and lowered their body fat by 2 percent. But on test day, the researchers were stunned when only 4 of the 17 women succeeded in performing a single pull-up.
Now, the pull-ups we do aren’t quite the same grip as the canonical overhand grip. So maybe I can’t do the standard pull-up. But still, even though I am gripping a bar that is perpendicular to my body, I’m pulling up my body weight.
So what happened when Paul took away my bands? Well, first he offered to put his hand under my right foot “just in case.” But then he thought the better of it and asked me to see what I could do.
It turns out I could do eight pull-ups! And not just once. Working in between sets of one arm dumbbell rows (with 35 pounds), I managed to do three sets of eight pull-ups. This completely shocked me. I know I’m stronger than I used to be, but I really don’t consider myself especially strong. And here I am, able to do pull-ups without a band.
I confess that Paul offered a little bit of assistance, putting a finger in the middle of my upper back and, when the going got tough, applying a little bit of pressure. But seriously, mostly it was me. And that’s pretty awesome. I felt sort of like a rock star for a few minutes!
So as Audrey said, “That readers digest mag article can shut up while I do some pull ups.”
What’s your relationship with pull-ups? Do you do them, want to do them, or have you let the research influence you to cross them off your list?