The Power of Pull-Ups

The pull-up is an important addition to any exercise regime, so why aren't more women (and men) doing it? The pull-up has long been propagated as a male dominated exercise and that women simply don't have the strength to accomplish even a single one. In fact, the Marine Corps still does not require female recruits to do pull-ups, opting instead for a timed flex arm hang. As you can probably infer already, I do not agree with this thinking. The benefits of doing pull-ups far outweigh any preconceived notions of female physical prowess and stamina. Pull-ups efficiently strengthen multiple muscle groups comprising the back, shoulders, chest and arms. They also increase grip strength which is helpful for a variety of uses-in my case holding onto a wild two year old and approximately twenty-five grocery laden bags.

Understandably, as a system of levers, people with higher fat percentages and longer limbs have a harder time than smaller, more compact individuals, but that should not negate the engagement of the practice entirely. This is a case wherein the benefits outweigh the costs.

I first started doing pull-ups about two months ago, and I could do one-it wasn't pretty. Undeterred, however, I came back to the bar everyday, and slowly my strength increased. I start by doing overhand pull-ups first and then switch immediately to underhand. I use a bench to position myself, then come to a complete dead hang. Next I bring my attention to my back muscles, not my arms, and pull myself up. I treat pull-ups like any other exercise, typically doing three sets of overhand and underhand, separated by short active recovery breaks. As seen here:

I am always amazed at how fast I progress when it comes to weight training. In this case I started with only being able to do one pull-up, and now within a session I can easily do thirty. So do not be afraid to start doing pull-ups everyday, you will feel stronger in a surprisingly short amount of time, and all other areas of your strength training will benefit as well.