Monday, March 28, 2011

Pull-up #3

My headline refers to the fact that today I did 3 pull-ups in a row and it felt pretty good. It is probably time to push myself to do 4 next time (good thing this is an anonymous blog, or else I would feel so embarrassed at the small number).

I am very cautious with pull-ups because I seem to pull a muscle every time I do them. I'm exaggerating, but still, I seldom do them because (1) I need to make sure I'm warmed up by doing other exercises, (2) I need to make sure I'm not too tired to do them properly, (3) if I'm at home, my doorway-mounted pull-up bar is too close to the floor so my form suffers, and (4) if I'm at the pool or fitness center, I don't want anyone to see how few I can actually do. Looking at this list, I'm pretty much screwed. First, the first two items are often contradictory. Because I don't want to pull a muscle, I don't start a workout with pull-ups. In fact, I often wait until the end of my workout to ensure I am warmed up. But by then, I am tired, and the danger of pulling a muscle increases because of that. So many days go by without push-ups because I am too afraid. I have previously discussed the frustration I have with my doorway-mounted pull-up bar at home. I still do push-ups at home, but I am leery. My best option for pull-ups is on the pool deck where I do my swimming workouts. But if there are too many people at the pool, I don't want to be a spectacle. All this adds up to the simple fact that I physically don't have the strength to do many pull-ups in a row. And of course, if I don't push myself to do more, I never will gain the strength I desire. So I'm stuck with making very, very slow progress over doing two in a row for several months, and then adding a third. 

About the graph: I started doing pull-ups in December 2009, and each day I do pull-ups I do as many as I can in one set. I probably should do more than one set, but I never have. So what is plotted here is the maximum number of pull-ups I could do in a row during one of my workouts, separated by month (red line). Also plotted (blue bars) is the average number of pull-ups completed per day in each month. Most of these averages are below 1.0 pull-up because I do not workout every day, and on the days I actually do pull-ups, I do a small enough number that it averages out to less than one per day. Looking at the data, there really isn't any trend. I haven't improved any over the last year; nor have I regressed. The only patterns I see are drops in the number of pull-ups done in the months of February 2010, March 2010, July 2010, and January 2011, which all correspond to minor shoulder or upper back injuries caused by doing too many pull-ups (or doing them with poor form, or with fatigued muscles, or with muscles not properly warmed up). So you can see, I have every right to be cautious as I try to increase the number of repetitions...

1 comment:

  1. I just realized my graph's y-axis label is wrong. I'm plotting pull-ups and not push-ups.