• Zaol


Updated: Jun 8, 2019

What on earth could have possessed me to buy this? 

What on earth could have possessed me to buy this?

2 things; 1. Ninja warrior UK 2. I’m realising that in my my mid 30s my body takes a bit more looking after, I’m not invincible after all. I suddenly feel the need to address the areas of my fitness that I have previously not bothered with, cardio and strength training (can you tell I’ve never been a gym freak? I literally walk and do yoga) here starts a whole new me; running, chin ups, the soon to be ripped ninja super mum. It may seem that I’m getting ahead of myself here but in actual fact it is clearly stated on the box that I will “GET STRONG...GET RIPPED...QUICK!”  and I am pretty sure I’ll look like this soon.

So as a 5ft 3 I would say reasonably fit woman not carrying too much extra body weight this shouldn’t be too hard right? Wrong. This was my first attempt.

I start to wonder if this is even a good idea? Are pull ups going to do my any good? Amy Vassell @happybalancefitnessassures me that “They are an amazing compound movement. Done correctly they use many muscles including back, shoulder, arms, core and glutes, so if they are included in any work out they certainly pack a punch” and Kerrie from www.benefithealth.co.uk says that “Pull ups are a convenient exercise, which can be performed almost anywhere. A compound upper body exercise it uses multiple muscle groups at the same time.  OK I’m convinced, onward and (hopefully) upward.

I decided to consult the fountain of all knowledge, the oracle of our times (Google) and find out where I’m going wrong. Well for starters I discover that I don’t know the difference between a chin up and a pull up, it looks like I really need to start with the basics. Here’s what I found out.

A Pull up is done with your palms facing away from you, then, beginning with arms fully extended (oh dear! That makes it even harder!) you pull yourself up with control until your chin comes up to the level of the bar. I literally cannot do this, I just squirm about a bit like a worm on a hook. How am I supposed to GET RIPPED QUICK! If I can’t even do 1?

A quick look on www.ironmaster.com (lol) suggests that I try to “isolate my lats.” Just in case you’re not down with the bodybuilder lingo and are wondering what these are, the ‘lats’ are the latissimus dorsi, large muscles of the back which reach around to under the arms. I know what they are and where to find them but unfortunately I don’t think I know how to isolate them and even if I did I’m not convinced that this will make up for my obvious lack of upper body strength.  Maybe I’ll have more luck with chin ups.

A chin up is essentially the same action but you grip the bar with your palms facing you. This is actually a bit easier, www.ironmaster.com helpfully tells me that this is because a chin up places the lats in a better position to contract, allowing the biceps to contribute more, but don’t get excited, you still have to start with your arms fully extended and I successfully managed a total of 0.  I’m not sure this website goes back to basics enough for me.

www.fitstep.com gives me a bit more hope, it actually has a plan for progression for those of us who are not yet ninjas. The first stage is to hang from the bar, arms extended for as long as you can until your grip gives out, if you can manage more than 30 seconds you can move on to the next stage... I can do this! I managed 46 seconds! Finally some success, I feel like I might actually be on my way to getting RIPPED! 

Feeling somewhat smug about my obviously superior hanging skills (I totally smashed that 30 second target) I move on to stage 2, reps at partial range. This basically means that I start with arms fully extended and just bring myself up a couple of inches, hold for a few seconds and back down. OK I can do this, it’s certainly not easy but it is doable. I manage 4 and I am slightly concerned that if I do any more my biceps might explode, so that’s probably a good indication that I’ve reached my limit for today. 

I am not allowed to move on to the next stage until I can do at least 10 partial reps so here I hang for now, at stage 2 of my journey to GET RIPPED! The box lied, it isn’t going to happen QUICK! But at least now I feel like there is hope. 

Have you got further along this journey than me? Any tips for success?

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Written by Helen Coleman