Friday, July 21, 2017

One-on-One Personal Training - Girls Can Pull-Up Too! | Operation 健康アップ

I think there's a common misconception that girls can't or don't have the strength to do pull-ups.. but that is totally not true!! Girls can pull-up too!

Yes, it is a fact that women have less muscle mass in their upper bodies {up to 40%} compared to guys, but with proper strength training and technique, we are fully capable and can be just as competent as guys in doing pull-ups..

In fact, regardless of muscle distribution, since girls tend to be lighter, pull-ups should be relatively easier for us because it is also a fact that the lower your body weight & the leaner you are, the easier the pull-up will be.

But of course, strength and technique matters..

Every time I share something about my pull-ups on my social media platforms as a way to note my progress, there are usually many positive comments and sometimes people are literally in awe...

It's not a humble brag, really, but I ponder, aww really? Thank you so much.. but it's nothing much to hype about really, because GIRLS CAN PULL-UP TOO!! I am not the only one!!

Anyway, I thought of consolidating my pull-ups progress thus far in one post since I recently made my personal record in 1) max bodyweight pull-up reps, and 2) max weighted chin-up rep *grin*

FYI, although as long as you can pull yourself up most people say that's a "pull-up", technically "pull-ups" refer to a pronated or overhand grip, "chin-ups" refer to a supinated or underhand grip. Pull-ups might be harder for most people as you'll have to use more back muscles {that are harder to activate} compared to chin-ups that uses more biceps and arms... but both are just as useful and both should be trained well.

Hopefully if you ever thought of doing a pull-up but never really tried because you thought "you can't do it", you will be inspired to actually get down and train for it after seeing how I've progressed the past 1.5 years in it to get to where I am now.

In Feb 2016, while I was still training at Genesis Gym, Superman randomly asked if I could do a pull-up.

I knew I could as a kid when I was still swimming competitively, but I never bothered to do it once I stopped... so I honestly didn't know and was pleasantly surprised when I realised I could! #yayme

Pull-ups / chin-ups are excellent full-body exercises and once Jen knew I could do pull-ups, he added them into my workouts.

I started doing the Fighter Pull-up program to improve on them.

With pull-ups, one of the most important way to get better with them, is to just keep doing them. With the Fighter Pull-up program, I was literally doing them 4 out of 5 times I was training in a week and  the volume got too high, unfortunately, and I injured my biceps.

It wasn't like the usual soreness or muscle aches.. but really felt like throbbing, debilitating pain that kept me awake at night sometimes. So much so that I had to take painkillers.

Anyway things got really bad until I had to stop doing pull-ups / chin-ups for a period of time as I wasn't recovering fast enough.

When I started again, I had to start slow and from a low weight again... and this time, I really tried to focus more on using my lats/ back muscles when pulling, instead of my bicep and arms by changing my grip {using more pronated grips} and grip width {going wider}.

When I started doing more pull-ups again around late Sep / Oct 2016, I was actually training more of my upper body because I had my first major back injury and my lower back was messed up.. so I couldn't do my usual deadlifts and squats.

Getting the right technique and motor skill for pull-ups is important, and that's why you have to keep practising it..

But you also have to train for the strength to pull yourself up so that's why I do accessory work like lats pull-down, rows and bicep curls to help me improve my pull-ups.

Really stoked I managed to push 130kg on the prowler today!! 😅💪🏻💪🏻💪🏻 The gym has always been my respite for many things. My home away from home. To me, it wasn't just a place to pump weights.. it was my sanctuary when life outside got overwhelming, a haven where I found a fitter/ stronger me, and a place where I met some of the sweetest and most loving people. I may not show it much during my time there {sorry for my b*tchy resting gym face!!}, but I do appreciate each person I met there that taught me something about health, something about strength, something about life, and something about love. As this chapter closes, and a new chapter in my fitness journey starts.. I can only count my blessings for the opportunity to have spent 1.5 years here & all the precious memories will stay with me forever 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻🌸 #sakuraharuka #aifitnessdiary #nevergoodatgoodbyes #newyear #newbeginnings #trngwithB
A post shared by Ai Sakura  (@aisakuraharuka) on
Like I mentioned in the beginning, getting lean is also very important so I always did finishers after my workout.

Superman loved to give me prowler pushes haha as it is really good at aerobic conditioning {and also strength training for my legs too since I'm not doing much lower body work}... so most of the time, I had to push a heavy prowler for 20 mins...

When I left Genesis in Jan 2017, I started to climb stairs with weights instead of pushing prowlers to get my cardio work in.

It's terribly mundane and boring.. and very tiring too as sometimes I've to climb for up to 45 minutes, but I do feel that it helps with my overall weight loss and leg strength. I used to be really terrible at unilateral leg exercises but now I feel like I'm not that bad? haha..  

A post shared by Ai Sakura  (@aisakuraharuka) on
Superman is very cautious with my injuries and even up to now, I have not done a single barbell squat. Even with the deadlifts, I am increasing my weights per session extremely slowly or once I feel a tinge of backache, we stop immediately.

Most of my training still revolves around upper body work with a big focus on pull-ups, {seated} shoulder press and bench press.

In Feb 2017, I tested my weighted chin-up max for the first time and managed to hit 15kg {or maybe 16.5kg if you count the pin weight...}! It's been a long time since I tested my PR in anything so it was certainly a happy milestone.

After that, Superman gave me a target of 20kg to hit.

Once you can do a pull-up, there are a few ways you can progress with it. You can train to do max reps.. or you can train to do max weight.. or you can also train to do max weighted reps.

For some time, most of my gym workouts involved weighted pull-ups / chin-ups so in June 2017, Superman gave me "homework" to do 1 set of max bodyweight pull-up reps at home whenever I could.

The first time I did it, I managed 11 reps which I thought was.. just ok haha. Superman was pretty surprised and pleased though as when I first started out, I could only do 3 reps. He really didn't expect me to do 11 reps of strict pull-ups.

So yup, 11 bodyweight pull-ups became my PR and baseline to improve upon.

Actually, I thought I could and was aiming for 15 reps.. That's why you can see in my video I rested after 5 reps; I know I can probably do 6-7 reps straight without resting but I wanted to bring it up in 3 sets of 5 reps heh.

In early July 2017, I tested my max weighted chin-up and managed to hit 20kg. Not bad considering that my right shoulder was aching and it was done in the evening after a hard day at work...

Most of the time as working adults, we do not get to train in the "optimum" environment or state, but we do what we gotta do, and train as best as we can to get the work done.

There are still improvements to be made, of course, and I'm aiming for 15 pull-up reps and 25kg weighted chin-up next. Hopefully both by the end of this year ❤

P.S. There are many resources online on how to train for a pull-up which you can refer to - How to Do Pull-Ups with Proper Form, The 4 Levels of Pull-Up Power, The Secret to Pull-Up Success and Bar Pull-Up Progression {video tutorial} are some I recommend if you don't even know how to do a single pull-up. Or... you can just hire my personal trainer, Superman, to coach you hahaha.. #notsponsoredplease

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Unknown said...

I never knew girls can do pull ups too, you're such an inspiration! Must have felt so good when you make a progress, nice work Ai!

--andy-- said...

Looking good Ai! Very impressed with your physique and fitness, keep it up :)
I doubt I can even do 2 perfect pull up now hee hee.

cheers, Andy

An Apel a Day said...

I can't wait to get back into the exercise game. Before I had surgery I couldn't breathe. I failed my breathing test due to polyps in my nose and an Asthma flair up from a cold I had. Well after being on meds I could breathe. YAY I passed my breathing test. was surgery time. My ENT doc told me no exercise for now. I'm low on energy, but really now that I can breathe I want to be active. When I get the ok I'd like to start out with stairs, hiking, and weights. I want Mica to do it with me.

YAY for pull-ups!

Phoebe said...

Since the day you started workout you are getting fitter and fitter! Really inspiring to see your exercise progress. What kind of exercise would you recommend for a hurting knee?

Phoebe @ BPDGTravels

Unknown said...

Are you seriously doing pull-ups WHILST wearing waist weights?! INCREDIBLE! You are a champion!

Shub said...

That must be such an awesome thing to experience..that your own body can do wonders if trained properly.

Shub from <a href=">RainbowDiaries</a>

mail4rosey said...

I'd REALLY have to work to be able to do a pull up. I've always had a hard time with those. I could never climb a rope either. I love your sticktuitude with your fitness goals!

Unknown said...

How do you pick the right best waist trainer ?

Theresa Mahoney said...

I always try to get out of doing pull ups but my instructor makes me do at least a few in every workout. They certainly aren't my favorite lol. But girl, you are killing it with yours!