Achievement: One Feminine Pullup


Yes I am a woman.

IMG_6378Yes I can do a pullup.


I can do three of them now — in a row.

I can do one almost anytime I want.

If this sounds like bragging then it is. It has taken 3 years of this being a “goal” before I made it a SMART goal and actually got it done.

More important than my personal achievement is this…

Women can do pullups.

Period. But just in case that wasn’t clear: Women can do pull-ups. Women can indeed do chin ups. Females have the ability to get their chins over the bar. Women have the muscle mass to build the upper body strength to do a pull up.

I am all about breaking gym boundaries but really “can women do pullups?” shouldn’t be a question. Yet there have been a plethora of articles and back and forth in the last few months about women and pullups which is disheartening. I’m not going to link to the articles because I honestly don’t want them to get any more attention but I liked very much this “but hey, don’t let facts get in the way of being an asshole” piece by Fit and Feminist.

You can google it or look on youtube. Lots of women can do pullups, chinups and lots of other wonderful feats of strength. So let’s just banish the idea that they biologically can’t. A little stickier is the idea that it is “harder” for women to train to do them. This, like may persistient myths, becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

As with a great many — if not all — physical feats: the pullup is a large portion mental. It is damaging, oh so very damaging, to believe that it is “harder” or “more difficult” not to even mention “impossible” for women to be able to train to do pullups. 

I know this because I, much as I hate to admit it, had it working back there in my brain.

When I first posted on Facebook that I had gotten my first pullup, there was a fair amount of chatter, especially my badass female friends about this phenomenon. For a lot of women, once they get their first the others come easier (that first mile is always the hardest). For others, it was having other women around them that knock through the perceived boundary first that really helped (the trailblazer effect).  No doubt it can be a long slog to get there and you’re a lot less apt to start if you think it is “impossible.”

There is like psychology and stuff to that.

But we busted the “impossible” myth right? So no more excuses. 

It is training. Pure, simple training.


Over The BarAs I first read in a book by Dan John: “If it is important, do it every day, if it isn’t, don’t do it at all.” (which he attributes to Olympic Gold Medalist Dan Gable)

I attribute getting my pullup, after halfhearted attempts over 2 years, to finally, finally making it a priority. Every workout, every day when I could, I would make attempts. Until finally I got one. And then repeated the next day to be sure. And then I went for two… and now I ‘m up to three (sometimes)… and on and on.

Which is all to say…

Train for what you want to be able to do.

I love the term “functional fitness” but that means something different to every person. So does “General Physical Preparedness” which means something different to me — “I wanna lift heavy things and walk around with bricks on my back for 12 hours… and be able to do pullups” — versus Jen — “I want to do alllllll the marathons and play soccer.”

You might not care about a pull up. That’s totally cool! What do you care about being able to do? What sounds “impossible” now that maybe you want to be able to do? A triathlon? A double-your-weight deadlift? Climbing a rope? What would make you (yes you!) feel like a badass babe?!

Training starts now.

Again I ask: What do you care about being able to do? What are you doing to get there? And, most importantly, have you really banished the idea that somehow you can’t?


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