Last March I made a commitment to myself. I was going to stop whining about wanting to do pull ups and start working towards doing them. Even when I was younger, in grade school, high school, college, I had never been able to do a pull up. It was a rare time in my life when I could do monkey bars. But doing Crossfit had infected me with a desire to prove to myself that I could perform an athletic feat that I had never before considered within my reach.
On April 26, 2015, I took a pull up workshop through Arbor Crossfit that gave me a plan for getting my chin over the bar. I put the exercises into an Excel spreadsheet and printed out 5 weeks of the 3 days a week plan. I started going to the gym at work 3 days a week, after work or during lunch. I got myself really sore and started to see results in other areas when I went to Crossfit.
I thought I could get a pull up before July.
July came and went, months of work. I took a bit of a break for my hike on the Wild Coast. I took more of a break when I had some health issues that culminated in a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome. But once I figured out that the pain I was experiencing from that wasn’t something that I could make worse with exercise, I jumped back into the pull up plan.
I put my head down and I worked. 3 days a week. Every week. For the last 28 weeks. I have been focused on this goal.
I got closer. I started being able to do “un-strict” pull ups. Every chance I had to work pull ups at Crossfit, I took. After almost every class, I’d jump on the bar and try.
On Friday, after an exhausting WOD, I tried again. I got a few with minimal movement, but no one was looking. So I called over one of the coaches to watch. What I was doing wasn’t quite strict. So I tried again and got within 2 inches of my chin over the bar. I just didn’t have the energy to finish the movement.
On Saturday, I went to the gym with my husband to do my day 3 workout. I finished the superset of curls and strict band-assisted pull ups, and then the barbell assisted pull ups. I ran for 30 minutes on the treadmill, a hill workout. Then I had a snack, used a foam roller and did the core exercises that are a part of my pull up workout.
And then I took my husband downstairs to the pull up bar to witness my attempt at a strict pull up.
I had been having trouble with the transition from a reverse shrug to bending my elbows. But somehow, this time, my muscles all worked together. A tight core, hollow body positioning, feet together and pointed… from a dead hang I raised my body until my chin was over the bar.
I dropped from the bar in excitement and gave my husband a leaping hug to celebrate.
Then I went back to the bar and tried again. I got in two more reps, with rests in between. The fourth attempt was a failure and we adjourned to the hot tub.
Now, I didn’t have my phone with me, so I wasn’t really sure if this counted for my official Arbor Crossfit goal – not without proof. And, to be honest, I didn’t really believe I could do it again. So, after the hot tub, dressed in my street clothes, I had Ambrose take a video of strict pull up number 4:
I’ve done it. I can do a strict pull up. And now I want to do more. It’s not going to be my official goal. I promised myself I’d work on double unders after getting my strict. But I don’t want to stop at 1. I’ve got my eyes set on at least 5.
And I was able to do more reps on Monday, despite my fear that perhaps Saturday was just a fluke. It wasn’t a fluke. I have put in the work, and I’m continuing to put in the work, because I like my 3 day a week exercise plan.The work has become a habit, and now that I’m seeing results I see no reason to stop.