Friday, October 12, 2012

The Road to Twenty: Week One

First, a little introduction and a note about motivation:

Though this is my first post, I've been dabbling with weight training for somewhere around 6 years. I say dabbling mostly because I've never followed a strict plan, had a trainer or even been able to settle on less than 5 or 6 fitness goals. The result? Middling results and at the present moment, a pretty solid plateau. To fix this, I've been trying to make a conscious effort to focus myself. This means settling down and setting concrete goals, both long term, like qualifying for the Boston Marathon before I'm 30, and short, like conquering female kryptonite: the pull up. 

The inspiration for the latter came to me while  messing around at the same playground Lex and I visited over a year ago in this post. Let me tell you, nothing motivates you more than watching video immortalizing your feeble attempts at a muscle up. One year later, and I still couldn't do a muscle up. In fact, strength wise, I was largely in the same place I was back then. As a girl, I've always been proud to be able to do solid sets of pull ups (my one set PR is 10, though I usually only hit 5-7 consistently), but since nailing a muscle up wasn't happening, working on my pull ups seemed the next best thing. Enter the Twenty Pull-Up Challenge, a six week program I came across on intended to get you to a 20 pull-up set in six weeks. 

Physiologically speaking, pull ups, and their close cousins, chin ups, are widely considered particularly hard for women to do. But not impossible. Crystal West is a great example of this, and if we're really talking role models, so is Sarah Connor. If you're a 90's child like me, the movie Terminator 2: Judgement Day probably holds a special place in your heart. Who could forget those iconic shots of Sarah Connor knocking out chin ups in her cell or loading a shot gun with one arm. These days it's pretty common for female stars to get into amazing shape for a movie (i.e Jessica Biel), but Linda Hamilton was the original, and she wasn't messing with one pound weights or toning either. Even though she had an ex-Israeli Military trainer on her side, it was all her in those scenes. So there you have it ladies, proof that not only can you do one pull up, you can do twenty. (For the record, the most ever done by a female is 36 in a minute, set by Ms. West herself).

Embedding was disabled by the owner of this video, but you can still check out Sarah Connor in all her glory here.

The Initial Test

The 20 Pull-up program, like most other plans, is based off your initial stats. For me, this came out to be 5 full pull ups, from a dead hang with little to no kip or swinging. 

This places me in the lowest category, and to be honest, I am a little skeptical, judging from the low reps set for the first few days (5 sets at 2-1-1-2-3 and 2-2-1-2-3). At this point I've had little trouble completing with far less than the 90 seconds of rest allowed by the program. But I guess this isn't surprising since I am on the higher end of the lowest category and these programs tend to really build momentum in later weeks. 

And maybe that's the best part about committing to programs like this: whatever my doubts or motivation levels, at the very least, I have to see it through.


  1. Good to see some activity again, and good luck on your quest. I want to hear how Lex is doing also!

  2. Solid writing Christina. I remember when I first started the madcow program I was really skeptical, but it's amazing what a little bit of regimenting can do! I look forward to seeing your progress!