The NY Times recently wrote an article about why women can’t do pull-ups. This past weekend I was at the Level II Russian Kettlebell Certification and my strong friends (Mira Kwon, Emily Long) and I decided that we should tell the NY Times they have it wrong.
I am the “older one” with the blond hair on the right. Yep, I am 51, and I can do many pull-ups and even more chin ups. So before you get all, “it’s genetics” on me, let me tell you why I can do pull ups.
It’s not genetics for me. I was born with short neck and hip muscles. My body was kind of, twisted. I was fortunate to get quality training for my issues. I can do pull-ups because I am willing to do what most women don’t do, the small stuff. I focused on mobility of my shoulders and upper chest and back, doing all kinds of stretching/mobility work. I also worked on stability of my shoulders and was not afraid of heavy weights or the black kettlebell. What particularly caught my eye was the Russian Kettlebell because of its restorative training as well as the kettlebell’s ability to develop incredible strength. It didn’t happen over night.
At 41, I had twins, I had a full time job in education, my husband commuted to Los Angeles at times and I lived in Atlanta. It was hard, but it was not an excuse. My husband brought a kettlebell home from Los Angeles one day and told me it would really help me. Reluctantly, I tried it. I also started to learn the right way to do a pull up, to use my lats, and not just muscle through it. The correct technique didn’t aggravate my shoulders. Yes, there is technique involved, and it needs to be earned over time, not in an 8-week transformation DVD series.
I learned how to move my whole body properly, not just training one body part at a time (ex. Curls). I learned the KB swing, Turkish Get up, press and dead lift. Seemingly, a few exercises that require focus, attention to detail and no cheating by just muscling through it. These moves take time to learn. By learning to “own a movement” instead of just making a movement, I got strong; stronger than I have ever been. This didn’t happen overnight. It took years to develop, not 8 weeks.
I also discovered that for the years after my twins, I have actually become so much leaner with less training time. I gave up my hour-plus sessions in the gym, which I just didn’t have time for. Instead, I trained with KBs in my basement about 4 times a week, which actually was better for my whole endocrine and nervous system. Since I didn’t dilute my strength training down by doing excessive cardio, my body had time to develop the muscle through rest. This was a huge surprise to me, as I was told to always go hard with cardio. However, it is probably the biggest training mistake I see women make. I didn’t believe it, but I am telling you, it works.
The other reason I can do pull ups is because guess what, I EAT! Too may women out there think the recipe for lean and strong means starvation and cardio. NO! One must eat or your body will consume muscle for food, leaving you weak. You must eat. You must eat more than you think. I eat about 2,000-plus calories a day. If you want muscle, you have to eat to build the muscle to keep it on your body. This is a huge issue, and maybe I will blog more about it, but that is all for now. GO EAT!
NY Times… don’t tell women of the world they can’t do pull ups! They CAN do pull ups if they start training the right way, ignore every over marketed DVD series out there and stop starving themselves. Women of the world… don’t be afraid to pick up heavy weights! Go get expert training from a coach who is a Functional Movement Screen Expert, and is Russian Kettlebell Challenge certified (RKC). Pick a goal and STICK TO IT!
*YO NY Times! These are all THREE FINGER Pull Ups too! Not bad for “girls.”