The Pull-Up: Mastered. Kind of.

Finally, a breakthrough.

After a few weeks using a resistance band to do assisted pull-ups as part of my Coach weeks, but also as extra practice, I surprised myself yesterday.

Coach gave me 4 strict pull-ups as part of my conditioning workout. I rolled my eyes and thought ‘yeah, right’. Usually I’d not even attempt to do the pull-up properly. But yesterday, for some reason, I went to the bar without the band.

And I could do it! I did three pull-ups with correct form! Arms extended, feet off floor and then chin over bar. Couldn’t do the forth properly, but fuck it, I’d actually done three properly!

So how did that happen?

I’ve been doing Freeletics for nearly two years. Far longer than the 15 week transformation videos posted on YouTube. If you read back in this blog, you’ll see that I’m far from the disciplined trainer. I might be fairly good at training regularly, but I’m slack on diet and I drink alcohol.

And I’ve always struggled with the pull-up. I was a skinny kid. I didn’t have the muscles in my arm to pull up my bodyweight. So for nearly two years I did jumping pull-ups. And then when I was staying at a hotel, I used a resistance band for the first time. And suddenly being able to do a proper pull-up felt a lot closer. And so I bought one from the Freeletics Store and have been using it nearly every day since.

I think the good thing about using a band rather than the jumping pull-up, is that the band actually makes you use the muscles needed in the pull-up, whereas the jumping one doesn’t really. I’m no expert here, though, so please do correct me if this isn’t true.

Either way, by doing the assisted pull-up regularly I must have been training my arms in the right way. The challenge now is to build up beyond three (!). My plan is to keep doing assisted pull-ups until I can do more than ten without a break.

I had to do a further 30 assisted pull-ups as part of the day’s training, and they also felt easier, although I can’t do 10 back-to-back yet.

Today, I also did 28 lengths at the pool. Every time I go I’m adding two lengths. The window to swim on a Sunday is only 45 minutes after classes and before the pool closes, so there’s no hanging around. When I first started going I could only manage 20, and I had to take breaks every few lengths. Now I can do 28 without a break, with time to spare. I’m aiming to get to 40.

So all in all, I’m feeling good. And all this after a week off last week. I was tired, work was busy and I kind of got off on the wrong foot on Sunday. So I didn’t train at all last week. Managed a swim on Sunday and that was it. I was waking up late, not eating much fruit and veg, not drinking enough water.

But this weekend I’ve had lots of sleep, got all the food in for the week and cleaned my flat, so I’m ready for the week ahead.

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Um, this is not me. Photo by @japhethmast on Unsplash.com
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The Pull-Up: Mastered. Kind of.

Week 2: Day 1. Nemesis

Okay, that’s more like it. Day 1 of Week 2 was a full Nemesis. 150 sit ups and 150 climbers. And it was hard. Turns out I haven’t done a sit up in ages and I’m seriously out of practice. But I BLOODY WELL DID IT. And not only that but I did it with a slight hangover. So that’s an extra achievement.

I’m not sure my sit-up technique was brilliant, but I’m going to work on that.

It feels like actually the biggest challenge will be eating well and not drinking too much. Especially as it’s December and I’m about to go on holiday and then it’s Christmas. I can feel that I have abs there, under the little beer belly, and no amount of sit-ups will get rid of the belly. It’s putting down the beer and the wine that will shift that.

Anyway, I feel very good having done my first full workout. And I’m not too knackered either.

I even tried to unlock some of the ‘advanced skills’ afterwards. Just about managed a pull-up, and an OH push-up. Not a hope in hell of doing the strict HS push-up in my tiny flat without doing serious damage to myself and quite possibly a lot of my furniture. And then when I tried to do a pistol, I just kind of wobbled over. Glad I wasn’t in a public place.

What’s brilliant about Freeletics for me is the competitive element. Even though I’m doing it on my own at the moment, I can totally imagine getting a group together. And that it feels like a journey. I think about it an awful lot, probably more than I should. 

I’m off to Brazil on Monday. Gonna see how completing the week in a very hot place feels… Hmm.

Week 2: Day 1. Nemesis