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Pullups for weak chicks?

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  • Pullups for weak chicks?

    I'm starting to get frustrated. It's been about 3 weeks that I've been trying to do pullups (with my legs, cause I'm a weak chick), but I just don't feel like my muscles will ever grow strong enough to pull myself up on my own. I don't feel like I'm making any progress, no matter how much I strain myself on the pullup bar. Are there any exercises I can do, either in place of the leg assisted pu's or in addition to them, to help strengthen my muscles enough to be able to eventually support my own weight?

    I've considered lat pull-downs, and I know that they'll work some (but not all) of the muscles I'll need to build up. I've just never done pullups before, never thought I might try. I plan to keep trying to pull up, I'm just wondering if there's anything I can do to make the muscles stronger, so it won't take me a decade before I can do a decent pullup.

    Your book club may have scintillating discussions. But my book club can drink your book club under the table.

  • #2
    Try starting at the top and lowering yourself slowly to gain strength for a couple of weeks.


    • #3
      I'll give that a try, thanks for the suggestion!
      Your book club may have scintillating discussions. But my book club can drink your book club under the table.


      • #4
        If you are doing them at home, trying 'Greasing the Groove'. Basically, this means trying them little and often throughout the day, but never to exhaustion.

        Whenever you are at home, put the pull up bar on the door (assuming you arte using one), and every time you walk through that door try a single one (use your legs on the way up, but lift them on the way down, and go as slow as you can). No need to go overboard, though. 3 - 5 times a day is probably enough. If you are at home in the evenings, just do it then.

        If you go to the gym, you could try Greasing the Groove throughout your workout.

        You can also try it whenever the opportunity comes up - in a playground (my favourite when out with the kids), trees, doorways that you can grab (be careful). Anything. Just keep trying. Keep it comfortable, don't exhaust yourself and certainly don't beat yourself up. Give yourself a time goal to do one full unassisted one if you like (like a month?), but this isn't necessary. Just keep Greasing the Groove.

        Before long, I promise you will be able to do one. Then you can set your goal to two...

        Other back work will really help. Barbell / kettlebell / resistance band rows, or even rows with a slab of rock out on the trail, Grok-style. Table pull-ups are one of my travelling favourites. Lie on the floor with your head just under the edge of a strong dining table or desk. Reach up and grab the edge of the table with your palms facing you. Pull yourself up until your chest almost touches the underside of the table. For extra resistance you can put your feet on a chair. You can also Grease the Groove on these, keeping a few reps short of exhaustion on each set.

        You will get there.

        Hope this helps



        • #5
          bodyweight rows are okay to


          • #6
            Check out this article I wrote on learning to do a pull-up. Be patient, three weeks is nothing. A deconditioned female (deconditioned is a nice way of saying weak btw) can take several months to build up to that first pull-up.
            "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they couldn't be more different."

            "You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want."

            My blog:



            • #7
              i'm tall..long, long arms and i don't even try to do real pullups, and do negatives only..with a bit of a jump..i also hold at the top for a a knee up, then lower slowly on my own..... abs kill the next do my lats... (i do the underhand grip...).. oh yes, i'm a girl too.. :-)


              • #8
                Thanks for all the suggestions! I can't do pull-ups at home, no place to do them, my husband would have fit if I used our dining table, lol. It was made by his great-grandfather as a wedding gift to his great-grandmother and has been passed down to the firstborn child on his wedding day since. I can see why he's protective of it... But I do go to the gym M-F. I could do the greasing the groove thing in conjunction with Classic's lowering myself suggestion either on my LHT days or on both LHT and MS days, though I'm not sure if that would be overworking myself?

                Your page looks interesting, Al.
                deconditioned female
                Lol, what a nice way of putting it! I just got back from my 5 yo's birthday party, but I'll check it out completely after tonight's festivities with my friends.

                And, chia, I so appreciate your input! Great description on doing the negatives, thanks for that!
                Your book club may have scintillating discussions. But my book club can drink your book club under the table.


                • #9
                  Have you seen the Worldwide Pull Up Challenge of 2011 thread? Many of us are working toward unassisted pullups. The thread has some very helpful vids, descriptions of various techniques and movements to strengthen the muscles required to do a pullup, and lots of support. There's still plenty of time to join us!
                  “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t — you’re right.” ~ Henry Ford

                  My primal journal


                  • #10
                    My girlfriend has been doing what nestmeister suggested for about a month and is just barely short of doing her first full pull up. She's a golfer in pretty good shape and really close to that first one, then the challenge begins for two. She has one of the twenty dollar getups you can get from walmart that fits in a doorway and just does what she can when she walks by, great way to get started.
                    My Paleo Project:



                    • #11
                      Thanks for the input, Nutritionator! I had no idea I could get a bar that cheaply. I may give that a try, though it sounds like your gf is in way better shape than me. And, no, inquisitiveone, I haven't seen that. I will check it out, though! Thanks!
                      Your book club may have scintillating discussions. But my book club can drink your book club under the table.


                      • #12
                        Most gyms these days have assisted pull-up machines. The machine will counter-weight you so that you can do whatever number of pull-ups you want. This will let you improve your form and build up gradually without the nausea and sense of defeat that comes from trying and failing to do unassisted pull-ups. YOu will be able to move through the range of motion from bottom all the way to the top. You could do something vaguely like this at home by putting a chair beneath the bar and then assisting yourself as needed (obviously, assisting a lot less on the "negative" side as you let yourself down).


                        • #13
                          Thank you for that suggestion, Bookstorecowboy! I wish I'd seen your post before I worked out today. I'll search my gym tomorrow to see if there's one of those machines there. It definitely looks to be worth a try. I'm kind of excited about this as a possibility, now. I've tried negatives; I'm not even strong enough for those, but I'll keep trying. This looks like a good way to build my strength so I *can* do real pull ups. Very interested!
                          Last edited by Bevaboo; 05-09-2011, 07:35 PM.
                          Your book club may have scintillating discussions. But my book club can drink your book club under the table.


                          • #14
                            Al has some information on the pull up machine at the gym. He is a trainer and I believe he says he has never had a client go from that machine to doing them on their own. I might have to re-read that myself.

                            You will get there if you keep at it and don't give up.


                            • #15
                              FWIW - I went from gravitron (the pull-up machine at my gym way back when) to unassisted pull-ups once upon a time. I'm far from doing them unassisted now, but hoping to get my groove back.
                              First whole30 started 26 April 2011

                              Goals: Vitality, Joy, Play
                              (also look good doing pull-ups by my 40th birthday)

                              My Primal Journal