Monday, November 22, 2010

Public Failure: Getting the First Pullup

Products on TV emphasize the fact that people want to exercise in the privacy (see: safety) of their own homes. The freedom provided by anonymity allows you to really cut loose and utilize the ab shocker 9000, P90X, or whatever is popular this week to its full extent. 

Commercial gyms have certainly picked up on this, and do their best to provide a safe environment where you can hide for 60min in a cubicle made of pulleys and light weights without anyone looking at you. I've seen countless gym guides showing prospective gym members the different machines that will fail them time and time again, all the while using TV buzzwords such as *muscle confusion to describe the techniques used by their underwhelming personal training staff.

The fear of failing in public is understandable, but inexcusable. The person who was laughed at in high school gym class for failing to do 1 pullup is screwing themselves by choosing a routine out of convenience and the fear of public failure. The pullup is generally a difficult and intimidating exercise for most new trainees to perform, but it is a very empowering movement when you have it in your back pocket.

Tips for Better Pullups
1. Think about pulling your elbows down instead of pulling your body up. The visualization makes the entire movement easier.
2. Until you can do 1 solid pullup, try negatives by holding the bar at the top of the pull, then slowly let yourself down (resisting the entire way).
3. Once you can do a single pullup, practice singles until you can get 2. It won't take long.
4. Don't cheat by jumping or kipping. You will rob yourself of the full value of this exercise. The only exception to this rule is when you are doing pullups for time (i.e. most things Crossfit)
5. Forced Reps can be done at the end of a set by pulling half reps (arms and lats involved) and quarter reps (lats only). If you find yourself stuck at a certain point in your training, ending a set or two with forced reps may aid moving you forward.
6. When you can, add weight. Nothing feels better than waddling over to a pullup bar with 50lbs hanging on your dip belt like a fat toddler with space issues and knocking out 8 clean reps.

*Muscles lack the ability to be confused, unless of course your muscles are made of tiny civilizations of brains. The only reason your body becomes confused is when you stand on a bosu ball. Your body realizes what a stupid fucking thing you're making it do, and does its best to seek out any and all cancerous cells in dingy intestinal bars, encouraging them to hurry up and end it all.

Say NO to bosu ball earthquake training. Get stronger.

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