goals · strength training

Always wanted to do pull-ups? Why?

The article getting the most attention right now on our Facebook page is this one, Hold on: Why do we want to do pull-ups?

I had to scroll through a lot of dudes doing shirtless pull-ups on Unsplash before I found this image of a woman. It’s a rear view. She’s got long blonde curly hair. She’s thin and white and wearing grey leggings and a black tank.

In the article Casey Johnston, a personal trainer, interrogates everyone’s favorite fitness goal. She’s got a lot to say but here’s part of it.

“Why did it have to be pull-ups? The world of strength is so big, with so many things to do. Why and how did the zeitgeist land on pull-ups as the number one glossy, sexy fitness goal? Of all the “strong” things to do with one’s body, a pull-up is… about the hardest one. This makes them difficult as someone’s strength training entree. I don’t want to discourage, but I also want to appropriately couch. This ultimately does not really matter, because by the time I can get out “Wow, that’s cool, although pull-ups are harder than you might think—” people’s eyes are already understandably glazing over.”

I love the reaction on our Facebook page. Here’s a sample of the comments:

“When I watch a movie and someone is being chased and they come across a wall that they have to pull themselves over, I think ‘that’s where they’ll get me’ 😆”

“Pull-ups were the one thing we were consistently tested on in elementary school and I have no idea why. They never actually worked with us on HOW to do them, or how to get better at them. What a strange measure of strength for seven-year-olds.”

“I try them on a semi regular basis as though this workout will be the one where I can suddenly do a pull up. I do not train to be able to do them. Apparently I’m hoping for magic.”

Image search for magic and you get a woman in the dark looking into sparkles cupped in her hands.

What do you think about pull-ups? Do you train for them? Are they a goal? Why? Why do you think they’re everyone’s favorite fitness goal?

Me, I do assisted pull-ups sometimes either on the gravitron machine or with bands. So if a monster is chasing me and I have to get up and over a wall, they’ll need to be some help available if I’m going to make it.


CrossFit goals for the year. Wish me luck!

I’ve written before about modifying CrossFit workouts. One of the things I love about CrossFit is the scalability of the workouts. It’s also one of the reasons why I’m not sure what all the fuss about pregnant CrossFitters is about. That’s a perfect time to scale back. Yes, keep doing CrossFit but do it in a way that makes sense for your changing body. I’ve blogged about that here.

But I’m not pregnant (been there, done that, three beautiful young adults to show for it) and I’m working at scaling up, not scaling down. So I’ve picked a few exercises for which I currently do a scaled version and I’ve chatted with our coach about moving up to the non-scaled versions. In some cases, like push ups and double under, I can do the regular version but I can’t do enough of them to complete a CrossFit workout. There I’ll be working on increasing reps. In other cases, I can’t do them at all without assistance, pull ups, for example.

So here are the 4 exercises I’m going to work on this year, learning to do the Rx version.

1. Push ups

2. Pull ups

3. Box Jumps

But I don’t ever hope to do this!


4. Double Unders

I’ll report back and let you know how I’m progressing. I’m going to tackle these in our warm ups and see what I can manage.