Friday, November 2, 2012

Below the Bar? What a Shitty Title!

If you're reading this page, I'm guessing that your thoughts about the modern industrial fitness complex are somewhat similar to mine:  they vary between nausea and pyromania.   They have a pile of bizarre ideas that don't do much in the way of getting strong or healthy.  The only thing that they do well is drain your wallet.  Just in case you forgot how stupid they can be and you needed a reminder, The New York Times just recently provided one for you:  Why Women Can't Do Pull-ups.

Somehow managed.  Great Blog, BTW!
We have to state the obvious:  women generally aren't as strong as men.  Men have more muscle, shorter connective tissue, and better levers for doing most things strength-related.  So, the article got that part right.  I do recall something from my couple of months of reading (and re-reading) books on anatomy (pre-baby days, when I had time to read and re-read stuff):  levers are designed to be either powerful or precise.  So, if a body doesn't have the inherent, raw power to pull itself up to the bar, then it's capable of more precise, coordinated manner to generate the force needed. 
In other words, if women, weak men, or tall-big men with poor leverage want to do pull-ups, they need to PRACTICE!   It's completely unknown to me what modified pull-ups, back and biceps exercises that they did in this story to produce the positively lackluster results but I'd venture to guess it wasn't nearly enough pull-up practice and progressions.  I'm certainly at a loss as to what a bunch of muscle-wasting cardio is going to help with. 
Genetic Freak?  Or just persistently smart  about the way she does things?  Either way, a nice and fun person!
Maybe that's what so many good trainers are getting at when they refer to focusing on movements and not muscles.  While most of us think about how great the pull-up is for the lats and the biceps, the fact is that's involving a whole lot more than just two types of human meat to successfully pull off the movement.  Were we to try to construct a routine based on strengthening every muscle doing some work to get over the bar we'd be left with an unwieldy-long workout that wouldn't produce the same results if we had just stuck to doing pull-up progressions. 
I could keep going on and on about how bad this article sucks, provoking ourselves to the point of projectile vomiting and firebombing but let's leave it at this:  it is entirely possible for all us, men and women alike, to do pull-ups with some proficiency.  We just have to stop treating this movement like a muscle-specific strengthener and spend some more time getting to know it better.  We're all going to vary on how fast we accomplish that goal but it's still doable.    

On the other hand, 6'3", 275 lbs with long arms=disadvantage??

1 comment:

Fi said...

Good article! And thanks for reminding me that I need to write my own de-bunk of that ridiculous article on my blog ( - a girl who writes about bodyweight training) this weekend :)