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Is doing a pull up a reasonable goal for a woman


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Thanks ladies! I think I'll set that as my goal instead then. I only just managed full bridge after over a year of trying, so I'm not expecting to get pull-ups right away either.

 

Can I ask a question about form? I have my grip so my hands are facing toward me, but as I pull to a certain height, I feel restriction in my shoulders like they don't want to rotate around enough to allow me to pull up farther. Is there something I'm doing wrong or is this just something that will change with practice?

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I am 165 cm, 53 kg and I can currently do four pull-ups. With hard work, you can certainly get there. How quickly probably has a lot to do with your proportions and how easily you put on muscle. I would characterise myself as a "mesomorph" and it took me eight weeks to go from 0 to 1 and then another month to go from 1 to 4. That is with training for pull-ups three days a week. The first one is definitely the hardest. Also I definitely second not shooting for that first one in six weeks. I did, and it just frustrated me that I was "so close" and yet not quite there yet. Luckily I didn't let that discourage me and kept at it after the challenge was over until I got there. But I could just as easily have given up. 

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Thanks ladies! I think I'll set that as my goal instead then. I only just managed full bridge after over a year of trying, so I'm not expecting to get pull-ups right away either.

 

Can I ask a question about form? I have my grip so my hands are facing toward me, but as I pull to a certain height, I feel restriction in my shoulders like they don't want to rotate around enough to allow me to pull up farther. Is there something I'm doing wrong or is this just something that will change with practice?

 

How far apart are your hands? About shoulder width? Can't say without seeing you, but if you're getting stuck you probably just aren't able to squeeze with your lats enough to finish the pull yet. But you could try parallel grip (palms facing each other) instead and see if that feels more comfortable; I'm pretty sure it's the easiest on the shoulders.

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you mean palm in or palm out?

 

because technically- in the strictest of sense- palm in is a chin up- and you are getting massive bicep activation- so all this "work your lats" advice means rubbish.

Chins still use the lats quite a bit. Using biceps alone is a BW bicep curl an extremely difficult exercise. That is an exercise I'm not sure is possible for a female, its not really possible for most males either.

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But the feel is totally different no?  I wouldn't tell someone to be opening their chest to the bar- and think about bringing elbows to their sides if they were doing chins.

 

It seems to- me anyway- women have a great deal more apptitude to do a chin than a pull up and part of that is muscle awareness- if she's doing chins and we are all describing pull ups- it's going to not be incredibly helpful. 

 

bodyweight bicep curls suck- I've done TRX ones.  They blow.  I can't do a full bw one that's for DAMN sure. 

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Okay, then if the definition is palms in = chin up, then that's what I've been focusing on right now. (This is the easier of the two?) My trainer has told me that inverted rows will help, but if there are any other movements I can try daily/weekly to help improve my form/work the necessary muscles, then I appreciate any and all advice. I'm really new to this kind of stuff.

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I still can't do pull ups but it took me only about 8 weeks to go from Australian pullups (inverted rows) to my first 90-degree chin-up - I can do sets of four now.

 

PhoenixBurning recommended "jackknife pullups" as training and they totally did it for me.

Basically what you do is you sit on the floor under the bar with legs outstretched, then pull yourself up with your lats so that your bottom leaves the ground. Heels stay on the floor. 

It looks a little bit silly, but, as I said they totally help. :)

 

Second thing that really helped was IJo and Waldo going on about "work your lats". It's a mental thing. 

Most people don't even know where their lats are, you have to focus on them to make them work. :)

 

I had to take a break due to a non-related back injury, but I'm back in training now and am confident I will be able to do pull ups soon. :)

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I can do pullups using an assist machine--have you tried using one?  Although after many years of regularly doing pull-ups I am still not able to do a full bodyweight/un-assisted pull up, I have definitely increased my pull up strength.  Pullup/dip machines are available in some gyms.  I bought a relativey inexpensive simple lever pull-up/dip assist machine for my home basement gym that uses weight plates I already own for my barbell/dumbell set.  While I agree that pullups exercise many muscles, beware that they may make your shoulders/neck/upper back extremely tight and sore to the point of injury (that is the downside of pullups for me), although perhaps this is because I am still doing pull-ups with poor form, too much weight, too many rep's, too frequently, not frequently enough, whatever ...

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  While I agree that pullups exercise many muscles, beware that they may make your shoulders/neck/upper back extremely tight and sore to the point of injury (that is the downside of pullups for me), although perhaps this is because I am still doing pull-ups with poor form, too much weight, too many rep's, too frequently, not frequently enough, whatever ...

 

That's strange, for me chin ups were the first back exercises I could do again after injury and I have always felt that they were most efficient and positively soothing back workout.

Have never used an assist machine though, maybe using your own back strength only prevents you from putting too much strain on your shoulders. :)

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I can do pullups using an assist machine--have you tried using one?  Although after many years of regularly doing pull-ups I am still not able to do a full bodyweight/un-assisted pull up, I have definitely increased my pull up strength.  Pullup/dip machines are available in some gyms.  I bought a relativey inexpensive simple lever pull-up/dip assist machine for my home basement gym that uses weight plates I already own for my barbell/dumbell set.  While I agree that pullups exercise many muscles, beware that they may make your shoulders/neck/upper back extremely tight and sore to the point of injury (that is the downside of pullups for me), although perhaps this is because I am still doing pull-ups with poor form, too much weight, too many rep's, too frequently, not frequently enough, whatever ...

that isn't pull ups- that's any exercise if done to excess or bad form or what not. That's not special to pull ups.

 

Pull up assist machines are the last on the list of useful tools for training pull ups though. 

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that isn't pull ups- that's any exercise if done to excess or bad form or what not. That's not special to pull ups.

 

Pull up assist machines are the last on the list of useful tools for training pull ups though. 

 

totally agree.

 

First statement - that's true of just about anything.  Want to know how many people I know injured from oh sit-ups, crap pilates technique, yoga, etc.?  True of anything.

 

Second - what Jo says.  There are much much better options out there for training.  It's like training push ups on your knees - not a good transition exercise. 

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I agree with both Jo an cline you can get injured overdoing any exercise no matter what it is.

 

I have found the best way to help girls is with the super big rubber bands that they sell at any of the crossfit places normally start them on thicker bands which take 50-60 pnds off there body weight and work them down over time.  Alot better then a lat pull down machine.

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I agree with both Jo an cline you can get injured overdoing any exercise no matter what it is.

 

I have found the best way to help girls is with the super big rubber bands that they sell at any of the crossfit places normally start them on thicker bands which take 50-60 pnds off there body weight and work them down over time.  Alot better then a lat pull down machine.

 

the bands are awesome!!!   Helped me a lot.

I AM going the distance

 

'Cause all I wanna do is go the distance. Nobody's ever gone the distance with Creed, and if I can go that distance, you see, and that bell rings and I'm still standin', I'm gonna know for the first time in my life, see, that I weren't just another bum from the neighborhood.

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I agree with both Jo an cline you can get injured overdoing any exercise no matter what it is.

 

I have found the best way to help girls is with the super big rubber bands that they sell at any of the crossfit places normally start them on thicker bands which take 50-60 pnds off there body weight and work them down over time.  Alot better then a lat pull down machine.

Haven't tried the heavy-duty rubber bands--sounds like a good, low-tech assist method, and they certainly should be cheaper than a pullup/dip assist machine.

 

My point in the original post was that pullups, while a terrific compound strength developer for many, may be problematic for some people's shoulders.  I also use a lat pulldown machine--not to be confused with the different pullup/dip assist machine to which I referred--and this exercise does not bother my shoulders nearly as much as pullups.  So, I suspect it is the specifc pullup movement mechanics that aggravate my particular shoulder anatomy (overhead presses are also problematic for my shoulders).  But, lat pulldowns do not feel to me like they are recruiting/working quite the same or as much muscle as pullups do, which is why I prefer pullups (maybe this is what you meant when you said you think rubber-band assisted pullups are a lot better than a lat pulldown machine?).  I suppose routinely performed pulldowns that do not injure shoulders are better than intermittent pullups in between repeated shoulder injuries...The objective is to get stronger, not injured, right?

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yeah but if someone has a problem with pull ups- it's not the pull ups fault.  There are certain things that are just not great exercises- tear drop squats and sit ups are two that come to mind. They have a much higher risk injury and are fundamentally NOT a good exercise.

 

But pulling yourself up- is a very natural human thing to do. There is NOTHING about a pull up that should bother you unless you have a previous underlying issue- or bad form. 

 

The assisted are easier because they are easier (duh- right :)) and and they aren't the same form- which MAKES them an easier movement. 

If you have problem with military presses- you have an underlying issue already- that's not the pull ups fault.  

 

I would suggest trying inverted rows and see if that helps you out- if you can do lat pull downs- you should be able to work up to a pull up with no pain- because the movements are very similar.  You already have shoulder issues- AND I am pretty sure you have a form issue inpinging your shoulders just from what you have said here.

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yeah but if someone has a problem with pull ups- it's not the pull ups fault.  There are certain things that are just not great exercises- tear drop squats and sit ups are two that come to mind. They have a much higher risk injury and are fundamentally NOT a good exercise.

 

But pulling yourself up- is a very natural human thing to do. There is NOTHING about a pull up that should bother you unless you have a previous underlying issue- or bad form. 

 

The assisted are easier because they are easier (duh- right :)) and and they aren't the same form- which MAKES them an easier movement. 

If you have problem with military presses- you have an underlying issue already- that's not the pull ups fault.  

 

I would suggest trying inverted rows and see if that helps you out- if you can do lat pull downs- you should be able to work up to a pull up with no pain- because the movements are very similar.  You already have shoulder issues- AND I am pretty sure you have a form issue inpinging your shoulders just from what you have said here.

Rows are an exercise that should greatly help with shoulder issues. The underlying cause of a large % of shoulder issues is weakness in the muscles between the shoulder blades; causing constant internal rotation in the arm bones and slumped forward shoulders (which then also tends to cause excessive hip tilt, flexor tightness and knee soreness; a big ol chain of problems).

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^Those shoulder issues sound sadly familiar. I've been increasing the amount of inverted rows and dumbbell rows weekly and I'm slowly starting to see more movement in my shoulders. They still hurt right at the blades though. This has been an issue I've had for the past 2 years. (Partly due to a badly sized desk.)

 

Are there good stretches for those upper back/shoulder muscles?

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Office desk jockey problems.

^^^^^^^^^ 

 

I ended up with a rotator cuff injury from hyper rotation in yoga - part of the problem?  Desk jockey (and well, then my yoga injury)

 

adjust posture at desk properly and work on some easy mobility throughout the day.

 

Lat pull downs did wonders for my rehab.  As did this  <--- Use TINY TINY weights (seriously).

 

All this being said - I had a rotator cuff injury.  That might not be your issue.  But these things worked and yes I can press and do pullups.

I AM going the distance

 

'Cause all I wanna do is go the distance. Nobody's ever gone the distance with Creed, and if I can go that distance, you see, and that bell rings and I'm still standin', I'm gonna know for the first time in my life, see, that I weren't just another bum from the neighborhood.

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I also found LYTPs helpful for preventing/rehabbing rotator cuff problems. And like with the exercise cline mentioned, start with tiny tiny weights. Do high reps and you can work your way up to slightly less tiny weights. But you're not meant to go heavy on these at all.

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