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How many women can do pullups?

Discussion in 'Female Health & Fitness' started by Magoo, Jul 10, 2007.

  1. Magoo

    Magoo Active Member

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    I am a 37yo female, 5'8" 132lbs, have stayed in reasonably good shape, but just started lifting weights in earnest. Currently I cannot do a single pullup, but really want to! I have been making some progress toward this goal (using the Gravitron at my gym) but have quite a ways to go.

    I have searched a bit around the internet and have found some how-to articles, most of which suggest that very few women can do an unassisted pullup, and that hardly any women who are > their ideal body weight can do so. But when I raised this topic amoing a few random friends my age, who do not work out regularly and are to varying degrees out of shape, nearly every one told me that they can do a couple pullups. I suspect they are thinking back to the last time they tried... at age 16. Am I crazy or do you other women out there think pullups are pretty damn hard?
     
  2. keldink

    keldink Active Member

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    I was never able to do a pull up until I started lifting. The last time I tried (maybe a month ago) I managed a couple. I don't do them on a regular basis, but now you have me wondering if I can do more. I'll try the next time I'm in the gym.
     
  3. Fet

    Fet Active Member

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    Pullups are hard. I started with the Gravitron, worked my way up to negatives. At the height of my last bulk I could do a set of 8, but while cutting I go back to the Gravitron.

    Also I have RC issues that complicate things.

    I think sometimes people who claim pullups are easy are really refering to chins, which are more bicep-assisted, and for me, easier.
     
  4. JoeSchmo

    JoeSchmo Well-Known Member

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    Don't feel bad ... I read a stat somewhere that the average GUY can only do 1 pullup. Most women I see at the gym usually do assisted pullups, but I suspect that most of them can do bodyweight pullups if they work at it. I saw one woman at my gym do 15 parallel grip pullups! I was very impressed.....
     
  5. JoeSchmo

    JoeSchmo Well-Known Member

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    I had RC problems for awhile too, which made pullups painful. Try doing parallel grip pullups -- I found those to be much easier on the shoulder.
     
  6. mastover

    mastover Well-Known Member

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    Add weight on these until you're doing 3-4 sets of 4-6 reps. Or do them Gironda style.....chinning up to the sternum, leaning back so that your back is perpendicular to the floor. :tu:
     
  7. Magoo

    Magoo Active Member

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    Thanks for the feedback.

    If I remember correctly I think I am currently getting 50lbs of assist from the Gravitron (=38%) to do 10 reps. Am doing 3 sets twice a week (well after the first set I fail before #10, but I do as many as I can). So really I am only lifting 82lbs and have 50 lbs to go.

    Is this the best way to go about it? Anything else I should add? Do I stand any chance of doing an unassisted pullup in 2007? Has anyone been in my shoes before and succeeded in the almighty pullup?
     
  8. guava

    guava Elite Member
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    I never had access to an assisted pullup machine, so I worked with the lat pulldown (various different grips) until I got to near my bodyweight, then moved over to the pullup bar to do chinups and pullup negatives, then moved on to multiple small sets (1! :lol:) of regular pullups. It took less than six months to progress between these steps, and since then I've slowly been working on adding volume to each set.

    You can do it! :flex:
     
  9. zenpharaohs

    zenpharaohs Elite Member
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    There is always this.
     
  10. lou1974

    lou1974 Active Member

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    When I started working out again, I could only do about 4 pushups and I would just collapse.. I went back to it yesterday morning and whipped out 10 without any problems... hoping to get back to 50 in a row that I could do about 15 years ago.. of course that was right out of military school where I had a big mouth... heha.. Just workout and see what happens...
     
  11. Alana Calloway

    Alana Calloway Active Member

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    I'm a 20 y.o. female and I can't do pull ups because I don't have the upper body strength so I don't even bother I remember when I was in High School and in Gym Class we had to do Pull ups as an activity I hated doing that but I have problems with my legs so I was excused from Gym the whole 4 years of High School
     
  12. Fet

    Fet Active Member

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    I can do 1-2sets of 10-12 of parallel grip pullups. No pain there!
     
  13. Fet

    Fet Active Member

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    If I could complete even 1 sternum pullup, I'd be a happy camper. :lol:
     
  14. mastover

    mastover Well-Known Member

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    Well I was a lot like Guava, I couldn't do 1 pullup. But after a while, you keep doin em and you get places :)

    If you can do 10-12 pullups, you will eventually be doing sternum pullups. You're not that far behind! In fact, I bet you can do them now ;)
     
  15. zenpharaohs

    zenpharaohs Elite Member
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    I'd like to put in a good word for inverted rows.
     
  16. tennisball

    tennisball Well-Known Member

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    I saw them called "Fat Man Pullups" on a few other sites. I think those would be a great way to work up to sternum pullups.
     
  17. zenpharaohs

    zenpharaohs Elite Member
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    From an athletic point of view, inverted rows are often preferred to sternum pullups, because of the shoulder health issue.

    From a bodybuilder point of view, the two exercises work different muscles.
     
  18. tennisball

    tennisball Well-Known Member

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    Right. But as a progression, it could work.

    I actually saw the only bodybuilder from my gym superset the two yesterday.
     
  19. M@

    M@ Senior Member
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    I would start trying to do one unassisted pullup before you get on the Gravitron. Just try to get one before your first set, each time. So much of what it takes to get you over the bar is occurring between your ears that actually training the free pullup is, IMHO, the best way to do them and do more of them.

    At 5'8", 132lbs I'll wager you've got the necessary strength to weight ratio to get one out right now, but not the muscular coordination. People go from not being able to do one pullup to being able to get 4-5 in no time. The key is teaching your body to fire off the necessary muscles in the necessary order. Using the assisted pullup machine is a great way to work the muscles involved in the exercise, but in a completely different way than if it's just you and gravity.

    You've an excellent chance to do an unassisted pullup in July. Certainly by the end of the summer.

    Often linked Men's Health article on pullups, from getting just one out to improving your rep capacity.

    :tu:
     
    #19 M@, Jul 11, 2007
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2007
  20. JoeSchmo

    JoeSchmo Well-Known Member

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    That is VERY good by the way. I think alot of women just assume they'll never be able to do them, so they don't really try. You are proof that not only can women do them, but they can excel at them. :tu:

    Heck, at 10-12 reps, you might even be able to start doing weighted pullups. :flex:
     

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