It was indeed a slap in the face. Last week, the New York times published an article called “Why Women Can’t Do Pull Ups“. Before I even read the article, I was shocked, upset, and for a moment felt like I was being sent in a time machine to the 50’s where women were supposed to stay at home and cook, clean, and wear pretty skirts. Are you kidding me with this title? As a female, lover of fitness and an avid athlete, I feel the exact opposite of this title should have been used. How about: “How to Master the Pull-Up” or “Why are Pull-Ups So Darn Challenging?”Once we throw the word “women” in there, we are simply doing what society and the fitness world of years past has done before: reminding women of what they CAN’T do, versus encouraging them to go out there and just do it!
If you read the article, it states that a study was done at the
University of Dayton where 17 ” normal-weight” women (which isn’t specified in the article–what is normal weight by the way?) who couldn’t do a single overhand pull-up were chosen to participate. They were taken through a strengthening program 3 days per week for 3 months. Strengthening exercises included the lat-pulldown and bicep curls, which are muscles needed when performing a pull-up. The women also did a modified (I repeat, modified) version of a pull-up where they would pull themselves up and over an inclined bar in hopes of strengthening the muscles required to do the real thing. At the end of the study, only 4 of the 17 women could do one pull-up. Here’s the problem: the women never actually practiced hanging from an actual pull-up bar. One thing we practice at Fitness Evolved is the SAID principle: Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand. This means that your body always adapts to exactly what it does. If you practice something regularly, you will get better at it due to your body’s ability to adapt, and eventually, it will get easier for you. At that point, a new stimulus is needed, or the exercise needs to be progressed in order for a new adaptation to occur. In the case of the pull-ups, we would suggest the training program have the women hanging from an actual pull-up bar, and also trying some “negative” pull-ups. If you’ve never done a negative pull-up, come in and give it a try sometime! We’d have you step on a platform, jump up and pull your head over the pull-up bar, then SLOWLY lower your body weight down towards the floor. This particular movement helps strengthen the “eccentric” contraction of the muscles involved, which in simpler terms means the muscles you’re working are lengthening while they’re under load. It’s a great way to gain size and strength in your muscles. 
The bottom line is pull-ups are challenging. Both  blog link men and women struggle with them, but here’s the good news: They can be improved with the proper training, as well as the right mindset! After reading the NYTimes article, Carmela and Mary used it as motivation to knock out a few pull-ups of their own, and Kay Hutchison did her first chin up ever. 
Carmela Pull Ups
Carmela Pull Ups
 
 
Kay Hutchison Doing Her FIRST Chin Up, and a Half for good measure!
Kay Hutchison Doing Her FIRST Chin Up… and a Half for good measure!
Mary Chin Ups w/ an 8 kg Kettlebell on her Foot!
Mary Chin Ups w/ an 8 kg Kettlebell on her Foot!
 
Finally, to all of our female members, don’t ever let anyone tell you an exercise is impossible because you’re a woman. You can absolutely do anything you set your mind to and you’re certainly not losing anything by trying. I wonder if the writer of the NYTimes article ever even tried one….Hmmmm….

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