VHALKYRIE   16,233
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Putting Together a Pull Up Plan

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Quest for "Sarah Connor pullups" continues...

I found a way to simulate assisted pullups: the swimming pool.

The DH and I went for a walk along the beach, wading in the water. The Georgia beaches are packed today because of the heat. We stopped in downtown Savannah for lunch, then headed home, where we jumped in the pool. In a moment of epiphany, I grabbed the side of the pool and found a way to do an assisted pull-up.

The motion of grabbing the side of the pool, then chucking yourself over the edge is not too unlike a pull up. As I am unable to do a pull up, I am also unable to pick myself up over the edge of the swimming pool gracefully. I have to throw my leg over the edge and flop over like a seal. Saving myself the embarrassment, I usually swim over to a ladder.

I tried to focus on the muscles being used. I attempted both a wide grip and narrow grip, and I could notice the difference. The narrow grip made my triceps and lower abs/back burn. Wide grip burned more of my rear delts, but also lower abs/back.

Yesterday I took a break from pushups because I was a bit sore. From my 'assisted' pullups results today, I'm going to add tricep kickbacks and core exercises. I'm thinking yoga and swimming are fun ways to build up core strength.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VHALKYRIE 7/1/2012 10:06AM

    WOUBBIE: Yay! It's funny, but as I walk around I find myself looking for all kind of things to hang from - lol!

BOB240: Thanks for your input. I agree that extra bodyfat is dead weight, and losing more fat is beneficial overall.

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BOB240 7/1/2012 9:23AM

    Ok.... not knowing who Sarah Connor is I did a google and found this:

http://www.youtube.com
/watch?v=XE-rT9sXPgI

hum
mm.. SHE'S CHEATING. In a pull up you extend down to a drop -arms fully extended- then all the way up!

Here if you want something to really aim for:

http://www.youtube.com/
watch?v=X2Sr6FFdcII

Any irrational goals aside: Deadlifts will help if you want to do this.

I know there is debate about bodyfat (although Ms Connor - or her body double - must be around 12% bodyfat) but in my view this is very much like running. Any fat is deadweight for a pull-up. Try doing a deadlift of your own body weight (deadlifts are easier than pull ups) then try adding 15 pounds... There is a big difference!

I would go back to my first point. You look great! Although Ms Connor has some attractions - her body image is an acquired taste!..




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BILL60 7/1/2012 8:20AM

    Way to go!!

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GETSTRONGRRR 6/30/2012 10:47PM

    Brilliant!

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WOUBBIE 6/30/2012 9:13PM

    Smart!

I found an odd way to evaluate my own progress! As I walk down my staircase I can grab the edge of the upper floor and pull up on it - not that I can even lift myself a micron yet!

Wow. Think what a stong swimmer you're going to be after this!!!

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BEAUTIFUL_REINA 6/30/2012 8:30PM

    I loved your blog! I love it when I have a great goal to shoot for, like your sarah conners pushups! ((HUGS)) thanks!

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Pull Up Training, The Evaluation

Friday, June 29, 2012

I did more research on pull ups and found that the most important muscle are the front, side, and back deltoids (shoulders), and biceps. Pushups are excellent for training the front delts, pecs, and biceps, but I need to add more training for the side and rear delts.

Last night was Day 0. It was just an evaluation of where I'm at in order to get to my ultimate goal of doing a "Sarah Connor pullup".

I basically just did a light circuit of various strength training exercises to find out where I'm at. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I do resistance training using mostly my body weight on the elliptical machine, treadmill, and stretch bands. My lower body is very strong - squats are no problem - I love them! But my upper body, well, it's kinda mixed.

I tested my core strength with planking. I usually plank on my forearms because I can't put extended pressure on my wrists, but with the contour bars I bought for pushups, I found I could modify my plank straight arm. That is a lot tougher, and revealed my upper body weakness. I held the plank at 1 minute, and my arms gave out before my core.

Next, the pushup. I haven't done pushups in a long time because of my wrist. With the contour bars, I gave it a try. I was able to do 2 sets of 5. 5 was the most I could do before fatigue. So 10 pushups total. Not great. However, I don't think my arms were the problem here. I can definitely feel the burn in my front delts this morning, so this is obviously my weak spot, and why I can't do a pull up.

I also tested my arm strength with 2 pound weights. I did sets of 20. Arm curls (bicep) was too easy - I didn't feel the burn at all. Next was lateral fly (shoulder - side delts) - terrible. I reached fatigue at 20.

Apparently my biceps are strong from carrying 20lb bags of groceries up 3 flights of stairs, but my shoulders are wimpy.

My plan of action is to continue dropping my overall bodyfat. Lower weight means less mass I have to pull. Now I need to put together a workout routine to strengthen up my shoulder muscles, which seems to be grossly out of balance with my arms.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ARCHIMEDESII 7/2/2012 11:18AM

    There is a park that does have adult sized exercise equipment. it's kinda like the stuff they have at muscle beach except without the free weights. Unfortunately, that park is a hike away. It would take me 45 minutes to walk there. the kids park is closer and the bars are manageable.

Oh and try a table instead of the bed to do your modified push ups. the bed just isn't stable enough for your wrists. You could try a chair instead of the table. that would be stable enough if you're short on space.



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VHALKYRIE 7/1/2012 6:23PM

    Pushups are difficult for me to do, so I am experimenting with variations. So far I am doing wall pushups, an elevated/inclined pushup using my bed for the lift, and floor pushups with the contour bars.

Do you have a park near you that has a series of exercise bars? Might be less awkward than the children's park!

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ARCHIMEDESII 7/1/2012 2:25PM

    Have you tried table push ups ? If your wrist is still bothering you, you might try doing push ups on a table or a weight bench. You may find being on that slight incline helps to reduce some of the stress on your wrist. So you might consider one set with the bars and one set of table push ups for variation.

Are you doing plank ? Keep doing a modified plank too. Doing plank will also help increase your core and upper body strength. Shoulder presses and rows. Add those too. And don't neglect your lower back. superman, bird dogs and dead lifts.

I found a local playground that has a set of monkey bars. I didn't try them this morning. Some dad was sitting on the slide talking on his cell phone. sheesh.... didn't want to work on the bars with someone staring at me.





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VHALKYRIE 7/1/2012 9:14AM

    EATNBOOGERS: Great work! I think lower bodyfat/weight is helpful because it means less mass to pull. But I agree that one should be able to do a pull up at varying levels of bodyfat. I'm understanding now that a pull up is an intense full body exercise, not just arms. If all of the series of muscles - back, shoulders, arms, core - are strong enough, you should theoretically be able to pull your mass. Less mass just makes it easier.

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EATNBOOGERS 7/1/2012 7:21AM

    I'll hang with you too.... I do sets of arm exercises a few times a week. I do chair dips (straight leg), pushups, side pushups, and the hanging thing/lowering thing. I can do about half a pullup now, which again, is proof you don't have to have super low body fat.

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VHALKYRIE 6/30/2012 9:04PM

    THELILEA: Let's all try and figure this out together!

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THELILEA 6/30/2012 2:37PM

    You are totally my perfect Spark Hero right now: Where I picked the goal to be able to do a pull up eons ago you are attacking it with the precision of a scientist. I love it! I wish I could hit the gym with you!!
Can't wait to see your progress. :)

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VHALKYRIE 6/30/2012 1:23PM

    Yes, I have more than 2lb weights. I was just using that as an evaluation. At the moment, I'm trying to use most of the resistance with my bodyweight, as I get stronger, I may add more free weights. Still working out details - more updates soon!

Wide grip requires stronger lats, narrow grip is more arms. From my current evaluation, it seems my best chance is a narrow underhand grip. I definitely have to hit all of those muscle groups - back, shoulder, arms - thanks for the insight!

Comment edited on: 6/30/2012 1:26:39 PM

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KAYOTIC 6/30/2012 9:39AM

    I'm not sure you really need to be 15% body fat (if you read Leigh Peele's stuff on that you know BF% is all a guess anyway....) to do a pull-up, since I was able to do them and was never anywhere near that low, probably around 22%, and I'm bottom heavy too...that said, your plan sounds good, do you have access to more than 2lb weights though? I think that would help especially for the back muscles, you will still want to work your lats even if the grip you're shooting for is more arm-centric. I think the movement to start the pull-up comes from the lats (or at least they must be engaged and firing to get up there!)

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EATNBOOGERS 6/30/2012 9:31AM

    Interesting inforation!

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VHALKYRIE 6/30/2012 9:25AM

    NINJALINDA: I've always been an upperbody weakling so this is setting a goal skyhigh!

WOUBBIE: I honestly have no idea? I'm getting the message that dropping bodyfat is a prerequisite, so that is going to be my "Stage 1" goal. This is going to require cleaner eating. I'll write more about this later.

GETSTRONGRRR: Thanks for the encouragement!

BOB240: Great points about the stress on the joints. I'll keep that in mind so that I don't work too hard, too fast.

Also good points about looking better being relative. I'm doing this because I need a fitness goal. I don't know if it's realistic, or if I'll be able to commit to what it takes, but the worst case scenario is that I become stronger. Muscle tone will make me healthier overall.

REDSHOES2011: Thanks for the tips! I'm not starting from ground zero, so I hope that will be helpful. My lower body strength is very good from being overweight for so long. My personal trainer a while back was surprised that I could press 2x my bodyweight on the leg press machine. On the other hand, I disappointed on the assisted pull up machine. That was a little more than half my bodyweight.

I agree with focusing on the weak areas.

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REDSHOES2011 6/30/2012 2:44AM

    I built up power doing front pull downs and using a assisted pull up machine.. As I got stronger I increase the weight with pull downs and decreased the assistance with the assistance plate. When training if I feel a weakness I train that area until it doesn't feel a problem.. I had to improve my wrists by adding a wrist exercise into my workout that improved my grip while doing pull ups..
I also had to improve my shoulder power so do several shoulder exercises.. I also warm up my rotators with a physiotherapy series of rotator exercises so my muscles know they will be working hard.. This can avoid injuries..
Just keep working on them, it took me a whole year to get my backside off the ground. The full pushups came as a extra bonus.. emoticon

Comment edited on: 6/30/2012 2:55:00 AM

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BOB240 6/30/2012 2:30AM

    First.. you look very good- in many mens eyes much better than the "fitness model" you pictured on your last blog.

Pull ups are a very severe exercise and you're right. You will need to hit around 15% bodyfat to do them. It's up to you but I think you'll just look different .. you won't look better..

The first thing is to drop about 15 pounds of fat. :(. It is vital to maintain muscle as you do this so up your protein to 1g/pound bodyweight a day. Combine this with real strength training. Pull ups are all about core so you need to do
1]deadlifts
2]squats
3] rows
4] bench press
5] Lats pull down

increasing weight each week..

Go here:
http://lonkilgore.com/free
bies/freebies.html

you should be at intermediate level on these exercises (as judged by weight) before the pullups start.

Do not try to do pullus too quickly. Your elbow joints will complain.

It is a very very tough challenge.. :)


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GETSTRONGRRR 6/29/2012 11:11PM

    I think you're right about the pushups helping you out. In the end, just hanging from the bar for longer periods of time, then after a few weeks, doing 4 to 5 sets of 1 or so pullup and adding to it over time is the way to get there

The toughest part is the beginning....don't get discouraged!

Comment edited on: 6/29/2012 11:11:40 PM

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WOUBBIE 6/29/2012 10:02PM

    Any timeline on how long it might take you to train for this?

(By the way, I decided to join you in this quest, though I still have a lot of weight to lose before I can realistically hope to do one. Maybe by Christmas for me.)

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NINJALINDA 6/29/2012 9:05PM

    I'm interested to follow your journey. There was a time when my upper body strength was pretty good (could do 10+ military pushups in good form), but pullups? could never do even one!

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VHALKYRIE 6/29/2012 6:03PM

    According to bodybuilder.com, these are the muscles engaged in a pull up:

For some reason, Spark isn't letting me paste the muscle groups. The link is here: www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ridgely9.h
tm

Yes, bicep and triceps are stabilizers for the shoulder joints.

Wide grip emphasizes more of the lat (back) muscles. I'm trying for a narrow underhand chin-up, which should be more arm emphasis.

Comment edited on: 6/29/2012 6:08:37 PM

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SEPPIESUSAN 6/29/2012 5:47PM

    I think everyone has stronger biceps than shoulders. Don't be hard on yourself. If you can do 10 pushups you're doing great. I've been strength training for years and still can't manage one real toe pushup in good form.

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CAROLJEAN64 6/29/2012 5:41PM

    What about triceps? Do they figure in at all? I know that is one of my weakest muscles.

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Pull Up Challenge

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I'm someone that needs goal to work for, or I fall off into slackerhood. Getting ready for my wedding was obviously a big motivator, but now what?

Weight goals are ambiguous. "I want to lose 10lbs". Usually that means we want to lose 10 lbs of fat. But even if I lose 10lbs of fat, it may not give me the results I want.

An example. A professional fitness model who is 5'2 130lbs, versus me, 5'0" 128lbs.



If I lose 10lbs of fat, I still won't look like her. Why? If we assume she has 14% bodyfat, that means she has approximately 18lbs of fat, and 112lbs of muscle.

[Edit:

NEILITHICMAN correctly stated that I forgot to account for muscle, bone, blood and organs:

"A person with 15% fat will have their skeleton weighing about 15% of their body weight muscle will be about 45%, with the remaining 25% being organs, skin, hair blood etc.

So if she weighs 130 pounds then she's got around 58 pounds of muscle."]

I am 128lbs and approximately 28% bodyfat. That means I have roughly 36lbs of fat. 20 extra pounds of muscle makes a big difference on body shape!

I don't care what I weigh, I want to be strong. I can't measure strong on the bathroom scale, so what can I do?

I've got it into my head that I want to do a pull-up. Maybe even 2.

Why pull-ups? I've never been able to do one. It was the bane of those stupid presidential fitness tests when I was a kid. I had to get in front of everyone and just hang pathetically on the bar until the gym instructor said I could get down.

But Janette Goldstein (Vasquez) in Aliens, Demi Moore in GI Jane, and Linda Hamilton in T2 all did them.

Will I ever be able to do one? I don't know. I've read that even some competitive female bodybuilders can't do unassisted pull ups. It's not just muscle, but something specific about how all those muscle groups interact during the pull-up.

Alright, this is going to be tough, but I'm going to give it a shot.

I've been researching what muscles are involved in a pull up to get a better idea of how I need to train.

There are multiple types of pull ups. They all use basically the same muscle groups, but some are stressed more than the others. There's pull-up or chin-up. Both use back muscles, lats, shoulders, chest and core. Overhand grip (palms facing away) emphasizes biceps. Underhand (palms facing toward) emphasize the shoulder muscles. Altering the width of your grip also changes which muscles are working harder. Narrow grip is more bicep, wide grip is more shoulder.

Oy.

Vasquez in Aliens had a wide overhand grip - shoulders and bicep. Sarah Conner had a narrow underhand grip - bicep-shoulder. I don't remember GI Jane.

All of those muscle groups are used, but the type of pull up/chin up varies which is emphasized.

I've decided on a Sarah Connor narrow underhand pull up. Why? Because Sarah Connor did it! And it seems to be a less common type. I never saw anyone do it until T2.

I can't do standard pushups because of a wrist injury from when I was a kid. I can't bend my wrist back and support my bodyweight. A personal trainer once had me doing pushups with contoured bars.



Because the bar elevates the body higher than a standard pushup, it is harder. You can dip below the bars for extra range of motion, which works more shoulder muscles. Fantastic.

The contour pushup bar also has an extra advantage for my pull up goal. The bar allows for doing dive bomb pushups, which is an intense workout on the core, shoulder, and biceps. Excellent.

I'm an upper body wimp, though. That's going to take a while to work up to on its own, nevermind the pull up.

Here's why everyone should consider at least adding a normal pushup to their routine. It works out your core, arms, chest, and shoulders. It's like exercise multitasking. Do more, in less time.

I'm still working out my full routine. I've got to add a lat-pull down machine in there somewhere. I don't have access to an assisted pull-up machine, which is a major bummer. I have a pull up bar, but I can only hang (it's like being in 6th grade again!).

I'll keep you updated on my progress!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VHALKYRIE 7/1/2012 9:09AM

    Linda Minard is a professional figure competitor, so she really does look like that. :) But I get what you're saying. The point of me comparing me to her is to show that 'weight' doesn't mean much. I weigh similar to her, but we have different body compositions.

I met my long time goal of getting back to my college weight, so I'm ready to take my fitness to another level!

Comment edited on: 7/1/2012 9:10:03 AM

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BEARCLAW6 7/1/2012 5:09AM

    Vhalkarie, you rock! The goal of doing (and then doing more) pullups is a great one. It gives you focus. I have never done one and due to a long family lineage going back to before the Civil War of wimpy upper bodies I will certainly never do one. This doesn't take away from the fact that I can leg press the entire set of weights in the gym, but upper body for me will be (at best) moderately ok.

Just be sure to remember that the woman on the left doesn't even look like that in real life. Yes, she is probably pretty ripped, but Photoshopping almost certainly took her muscled body and made it even more defined. If we ran into her on the street, most of us would probably go, "Wow!'...but not quite photo-on-the-left-wow. Be sure to work out for the next year really hard and then hire a graphic artist with good photo editing skills to finish the job for you.

I like how in the past you have always compared you to you. You this year compared to you last year, is what I mean. Keep it up! Keep improving.

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ARCHIMEDESII 6/29/2012 11:08AM

    KAYOTIC,

I find the underhand pull up method a bit easier than wide grip. Although personally, I do best with a parallel grip. That seems to work better for me, but I do have to work on wide grip overhand. ugh.

We do have an assisted pull up machine at the gym. I'm going to give that a try for practice. Eventually, I'm going to go over to real pull ups using a resistance band (or two) for assistance.

I have seen a resistance band pull up device you can buy, but it's a little pricey.

VHALKYRIE,

You know, practicing on monkey bars isn't a bad idea. I actually need to find a play ground that has a set for the kids. One of the obstacles in a Spartan Sprint is being able to move from rung to rung, one hand after the other. I haven't done that since I was a kid. I wonder if I can still do that.

What did "I" get myself into ! LOL !!!





Comment edited on: 6/29/2012 11:13:23 AM

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KAYOTIC 6/29/2012 9:53AM

    I found the underhand pull up to be easier for me....not sure why! And the negatives will get you part way there, or starting from half way up too, it's really hard to start from straight arms, even if that is the ultimate goal, if you don't have access to an assisted pull-up machine, that will at least get you doing the motion on the bar, especially if you lower very slowly....I also went to a gym that had a giant rubber band they tied onto the bar as an assisted pull-up aid, it was very thick and long and you just put one foot in there to help pull your weight.



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FITGIRL15 6/29/2012 1:30AM

    PS... I saw Linda Mynard compete in her first body building show here in Calgary. She was even fierce then! But NOW... OMG, watch out!!!

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FITGIRL15 6/29/2012 1:23AM

    When I was in competition shape (15 pounds lighter) I could do many unassisted pull ups... and I could easily knock out a bunch of men's push ups, on demand!

I think it has a lot to do with the weight to strength ratio. The lighter you get, the easier it is for the muscles to work with you. LOL

I can still rock a man push-up like no-one's business... but I practice them weekly, 2-3 times. I do not practice pull ups. I was like you though... always wanted to do them. It is an amazing accomplishment to achieve! You will get it! (The easiest one for me to accomplish was also the narrow underhanded grip... because you use mostly bicep to accomplish it. My back is weak, I guess... cause the wide grip pull up has always been my nemesis! LOL)

GET IT GIRL!

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CAROLJEAN64 6/28/2012 10:42PM

    I am 67 years old and can do 8-10 regular push-ups... how... five years of yoga with a 40 minutes 5 times a week practice for the last six months. Practice include 14 sun salutations each with a full push up.

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VHALKYRIE 6/28/2012 8:11PM

    THELILEA: I'm not sure I really know what I've stepped into! But I'm going to give it a try! You sound way more advanced than me, so maybe I should be copying off your notes!

K-SHIN: Oh no the monkey bars! I never was able to do a pull up even when I was a kid! Hanging, yes. Pulling, no.

GETSTRONGRRR: Now I know I'm really in trouble! If you're still working up to it, I wonder how long it's going to take me!

Those apps sound interesting, I'll check them out! I'll try and post tomorrow what my training regime is going to be, and maybe you can offer some tips?

WOUBBIE: I need some intermediate goals, and Michelle Obama arms are a great one!

NEILITHICMAN: You're right, the other 82% is muscle, bone, organs and blood. Nice catch! Thanks!

Comment edited on: 6/28/2012 8:11:42 PM

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NEILITHICMAN 6/28/2012 7:51PM

    You haven't taken into account the skeleton and internal organs.

A person with 15% fat will have their skeleton weighing about 15% of their body weight muscle will be about 45%, with the remaining 25% being organs, skin, hair blood etc.

So if she weighs 130 pounds then she's got around 58 pounds of muscle.



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WOUBBIE 6/28/2012 6:32PM

    Sweet! You just made me change my long range goal from "have Michelle O arms" to "do pullups like Sarah Connor".

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GETSTRONGRRR 6/28/2012 6:17PM

    Good on you, I've had pull-ups on my list for a while. I do use the assisted pull-up machine at the gym, but I just recently got to where I can do 5 sets of 2 each.

I like the Fifty Pull-ups app and PullupFu from the app store...they have good beginner's programs to help you (things like a negative pull-up; get on a chair and start from the elevated position and lower yourself in a controlled manner)

Keep us up to date on your progress & we'll cheer you on....maybe we can even get a team challenge going!

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K-SHIN 6/28/2012 5:55PM

    Lol This post rocked! I'm totally with you on hanging there on the bar and waiting impatiently for the coach to show mercy and let me get down. I always dreaded them and still do. I tried the assisted pull up machine at my gym and found that even though I'm physically at my best I still have about 60lbs that I can't lift which is why I still just dangle on my own. It was embarrassing when my personal trainer friend went on a walk with me. Afterwards we stopped at a playground for our kids to play and she happily announced it was pull up time. emoticon Noooooooooooo!! I told her I had never been able to do one and she was surprised. But, yep, I proved it by dangling and grunting. Trying my hardest and getting nowhere fast.

The kind I do is narrow underhanded. Why? Because that's the way I was taught when I was a dangling kid. Lol

Good luck! You can do it!!

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CATLADY52 6/28/2012 5:24PM

    emoticon

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THELILEA 6/28/2012 5:19PM

    I love this!! I picked "pull up" as my dream fitness goal about.... a year ago? Yeah. I had no idea at the time what that really meant. It's a long term goal for me, hahaha. I pretty much think that if I can do that it will mean I've become strong in every part of my body. I'll have officially "made it"!! :)

I 100% agree with you about the importance of the push up. For me, full push ups are something I can do a bit now but still a REALLY good challenge to many of. Doing those, dive bombers, burpees, and lat pull downs are what I theorize will get me where I want to go. OH, and doing negatives on a pull up bar is AWESOME.

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VHALKYRIE 6/28/2012 3:00PM

    Excellent! Let's do this together!

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ARCHIMEDESII 6/28/2012 2:59PM

    You Go GURL !!!

I don't know if you read my blog, but I signed up for a Spartan Sprint that's being held in Fenway Park in November. I too need to be able to do a handful of pull ups by then. So, I'll be plugging along with you !!

I can hold plank for over 2 mins. I can do a million billion good military style push ups. Pull ups I need to work on.



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Colorado News

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I'm feeling less worried today. They had a good day with the winds yesterday, and a little bit of rain. Not nearly enough, though. The fire isn't contained, but it isn't spreading either. Part of the panic on Tuesday was because of the wind gust in the Canyon, the fire doubled in size in a short period of time.

Yesterday I posted a picture of a familiar feature of my hometown. Here's a comparison photo of what it's supposed to look like, versus what it looked like on Tuesday:



This is why I paniced!

They didn't know how much faster or farther it would spread. The houses closest to the mountains are still in very precarious situation, and hundreds of homes have been lost. Some of my friends can't return to work because the smoke makes it too treacherous. Air quality is bad because of the ash and smoke. The local YMCA near my parents' house is being used as an evac shelter, so that's a good sign they consider that area a safe zone for now. It is wait and see, but less dire today.

It's been really incredible that despite the devastation, not one life has been lost. The firefighters and emergency response teams have been superb in getting people to safety.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EATNBOOGERS 6/29/2012 4:00PM

    The number of fires this year has been absolutely crazy. The monsoon rains can't get here soon enough.

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STARTINGINLIMBO 6/29/2012 9:24AM

    Been praying lots about it. Thank you for sharing the pictures...wow...

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 6/29/2012 7:45AM

    emoticon

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DDOORN 6/29/2012 6:14AM

    Hoping and praying for the best for ALL the dry, tinder-prone parts of the USA! There's too much of our country I haven't seen yet...don't go up in smoke yet! :-)

Don

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ANDYLIN90 6/29/2012 3:31AM

    Colorado is one of my favorite states having spent lots of time in the Pagosa Springs and Breckenridge areas. I am so saddened that these fires are so devastating. I will pray for you, your family and your property as you live through this.

My husband is a retired City of Chicago fireman and of course thoughts and prayers are with all those public service people involved in containing these fires.
emoticon

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VHALKYRIE 6/28/2012 11:20PM

    I found a wildfire map, and was shocked by all the ongoing fires in the west right now!

Comment edited on: 6/28/2012 11:20:47 PM

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MUSHCAT 6/28/2012 11:18PM

    I think all of Colorado Springs and the other areas of the state that are on fire would greatly appreciate our prayers.
emoticon

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VHALKYRIE 6/28/2012 10:47PM

    CAROLJEAN64: I heard that this is now Colorado's worst wildfire on record in terms of property destruction. :(

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CAROLJEAN64 6/28/2012 10:45PM

    My DS, who now lives in Panama, lived Colorad Springs and her husband is there now. As you can imagine we have be following all the news closely. Last we heard almost 400 homes has been lost, but some people were being allowed back into their homes and businesses.

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VHALKYRIE 6/28/2012 8:35PM

    I thought that myself today when I saw some other pictures. I decided that I'll appreciate the awesome force of nature after all this is over!

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NEILITHICMAN 6/28/2012 8:06PM

    Scary...but an awesome photo though!

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CATLADY52 6/28/2012 5:27PM

    It is amazing that no one has been hurt!

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My Hometown is Burning

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I'm from Colorado Springs originally. My parents moved there when I was 4, and I lived there until I was 28. Colorado Springs isn't a big city, nor is it a small town, though it was a lot smaller when I was growing up.

In the school years, my friends and I used to dream of moving away. Maybe we would go some place exciting and glamorous like LA. Or maybe go some place cosmopolitan like New York. It seemed like almost anywhere would be better than where we were. We just thought that COS was boring. Nothing exciting ever happened there.

When I moved to Seattle, I went there without ever having visited first. My life had fallen apart, and I figured if there were ever a chance for me to get out of there, that would be the best time to do it. Blank slate. Go to a town where no one knew me, and couldn't make judgments about who I was based on who I had been. But I would have to do it on my own. No family or old friends to run to if things got tough.

And that really was the best thing for me. Being an only child, I was often sheltered. I was protected and made safe. But I never really knew who I was, and what I could do, until I had to stand on my own. When my life had fallen apart, I either crawled out fighting, or I stayed there and withered.

I moved to Seattle because I had to. Those moments when I discovered sides of me that had always been there were immeasurable. I discovered I'm someone who loves to hike mountains. I never learned to ski in Colorado because I didn't have the money. I would be too chicken spit to kayak the Colorado rapids, but I loved sea kayaking. These were things I could have done in CO, but I learned to do in WA. Perhaps I never thought of it because I grew up with the Rockies, and took them for granted. They had always been there. They would always be there, in my mind.

But every time I went back to Colorado, it always felt like 'home'. It felt comforting and familiar. Even as things changed, it still felt the same. Even if I had been away, I could remember a dozen different roads, like an ant trail.

Colorado is pretty lucky in terms on natural disasters. We don't have earthquakes, tsunamis (that would be something else!), or hurricanes. The tornadoes only happen on the eastern plains, which is basically Kansas. But now I know what people who go through these disasters must feel.

I'm looking at pictures, and it takes my breathe away. These are pictures where I am connected. I recognize the landmarks as I recognize the back of my hand. I grew up with it. It had always been there.



What's particularly significant about this picture is you can see the mountain scarring from the strip mining a long time ago, from the 70s I believe. Notice how very little of it has healed over. I dread to think how long it will take the forests to recover from this fire.

When I visited Mt St Helens in Washington, I was speechless. There was an abrupt wasteland of a barren, treeless landscape. I wonder if my Colorado will look the same once this is over. Will I even recognize her?

The fire has spread way too close to where my family and friends are. They aren't in immediate danger, but they can't open windows because of the smoke. This is particularly bad because Colorado has been getting 100 degree weather, and not everyone has air conditioning.

My parents aren't in the immediate evac zone, but it's a lot closer than I'd like. Only 13 miles now. This is one of the times when I feel the distance between Georgia and Colorado. I feel so helpless, because I can't help them if they needed it.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

K-SHIN 6/28/2012 5:35PM

    Oh poor babies! Stupid fishermen. Like their fishing hobby is more important than people having water to drink. emoticon

CO has had snow all right. Every year. But in such small amounts. When we first moved there 15 years ago there was a big blizzard in my town and my university town was flooded. About 5 years later there was another blizzard that collapsed roofs of supermarkets and gas stations. Since then? Barely anything. Two winters ago the best snowfall would stick around for maybe two or three days with maybe an accumulated foot at the very most. Mostly it was just super cold and dry.

I know what you mean about carrying lotion and chapstick everywhere. God forbid I forget either. I'd have to go to any nearby store to buy more if I was dumb enough to forget it. Bath and Body Works is probably one of the most successful businesses in the whole state! Lol One day I went to work and forgot my chapstick. I went one day without it and it looked like I was wearing red lipstick. Good grief it was painful!

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VHALKYRIE 6/28/2012 5:21PM

    Colorado always has been dry, but recent years have been especially so. A few years back, one of the reservoirs was drained for city water use because of lack of rain. There were a lot of fishermen who were upset, saying it was their favorite fishing spot, but that's what a reservoir is for...

My skin always crack when I visit there, and I have to keep lotion and lip balm in my purse. I never need to use it in Georgia.

Glad you are having a nice time in Denver!

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MYLADY4 6/28/2012 2:53AM

    I am in Denver right now and i have to say this a beautiful place. My heart goes out to eberyone dealing with this. It has been hot out here and no humidity which we aren't used to. It did rain for a little bit today but not nearly long enough. Praying that the get rain out here and soon.


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VHALKYRIE 6/27/2012 11:53PM

    GETSTRONGRRR: The weather can change quick out there! It's still plenty cold in the winter, but no snow in recent years. Colorado's water supply depends on the snow melt. And when there isn't any...well...trouble.

Right on the money about the 'get out of town' kit. I told them to get their medications and documents ready. I said to start taking pictures around the house for insurance purposes. Fortunately, the winds were cooperative today and it didn't spread much today. Yesterday was so shocking because it spread so rapidly, it caught everyone by surprise.

CATLADY52: Yes, it's a very frustrating feeling, wanting to do something, but helpless to just wait and see. I donated to the Colorado Red Cross today to aid those brave men and women fighting the fire.

MILLISMA: Thank you for the well wishes. A YMCA near my parents is being used as an evac shelter, so they must consider that the safe end of town. I have some friends, though, who are much closer. They had good luck with the weather today, so it hasn't spread further. Bless those firefighters.

Comment edited on: 6/28/2012 7:49:38 AM

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CATLADY52 6/27/2012 9:38PM

    Any kind of fire can be bad given the right circumstances. I think that what is needed now is cooler weather (a fire can create it's own weather) and seven days of light rain. emoticon emoticon
All anyone can do is pray.

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GETSTRONGRRR 6/27/2012 9:33PM

    Funny, I was just out there 3 weeks ago and really enjoyed the cool spring weather.

Real sorry to hear about your family there....keep in touch with them often...probably wise for you to have them prepare "get out quick bags"....tough as it is, you may need to be the calm collected one, especially if they are elderly.

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MILLISMA 6/27/2012 8:10PM

    I have been watching the news since I have friends in CO and the devastation is so sad. Hope your parents remain safe.

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VHALKYRIE 6/27/2012 6:48PM

    I saw a funnel cloud once in COS, but it never touched down. In the years I lived in COS and Denver, I never saw or heard of any except out in Limon. Maybe there were others, but I recall the Limon tornadoes being the bad ones, or perhaps the only that our local news covered. I can't speak about recent years, I haven't lived in CO in almost 10 years.

But the weather is very different than when I grew up. I remember 6 foot snow drifts and blizzards. They were fun as a kid, and a pain in the butt as a teenager shoveling the driveway. I haven't seen a snowfall like the ones when I was a kid. Last Thanksgiving my husband made a joke to me that it never snows in Colorado. It hasn't been snowy any time he's been there (which I was thankful for, but it should snow when I'm not there - lol).

CO always had variable temps, but 5 days straight of 100 degree temps...I don't remember that in the two decades I lived there.

Fires everywhere this year. Best wishes for your friends and family.

Comment edited on: 6/27/2012 8:12:16 PM

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K-SHIN 6/27/2012 6:43PM

    I moved from SoCal to CO when I was 15 and, although I adjusted to it, I did so grudgingly. My family still lives there, between Denver and Colorado Springs but I moved away last year and have always thought of it as an escape. My family isn't so close to any of the fires THIS time but the air around their home is thick with smoke from the fire near the Springs. I went to university in Fort Collins and lived there for about 10 years so I'm mainly worried about the fire up there even though it's 55% contained.

But honestly I'm not sure what you're talking about when you say the tornadoes are only on the eastern plains. DIA gets lots of tornadoes and when I was in high school tornadoes were sighted just south of Denver about 15-20 miles north of us. Then the last couple years the tornadoes even hit down in the north near Fort Collins and Greeley. That was unheard of before but it happens now.

I never knew what life in CO was like without droughts and nasty temps. This summer seems to be the worst though. Other people have mentioned their weather changing as well though. My dad suggested global warming.

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VHALKYRIE 6/27/2012 1:32PM

    My concern is mainly after viewing the devastation from Mt St Helens, but you're right. The heat from the pyroclastic blast from Helens was magnitudes higher than a forest fire. It incinerated everything alive - trees, animals, and top soil biomass. The landscape is recovering very, very slowly.

Strip mining is a rape against the mountains. Fortunately, after the mountain scarring in the 70s, regulations were put in place preventing any further strip mining in areas where it is important to COS tourist industry. Unfortunately, certain political parties are trying to dismantle these regulations.

The landscape in CO recovering depends a lot on rain. Much the same as it depends on getting the fire contained to begin with. =/ My best friend said the firefighters are estimating they won't be able to get this contained until July 17.

Comment edited on: 6/27/2012 1:34:10 PM

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 6/27/2012 1:23PM

    Hang in there. emoticon

I'm concerned about some friends, colleages, and my brother and his family too - they all live in Ft. Collins.

I might be able to allay one of your fears somewhat, however. Strip mining and fires are two very different forms of disturbance to an ecosystem.

Fires burn the standing biomass (dead or alive) and generally leave it on the surface. Mudslides can rearrange it, but it's still pretty much there and ready for regeneration.

Strip mines are different because they completely remove the topsoil, unless the people who did the mining were very conscientious. The stuff down below topsoil is like a virgin volcanic eruption - no biomass, just minerals. So areas that are strip mined take a LOT longer to recover.

Here's just one reference I pulled up that supports this - they're talking about sand mining here, but the same principles apply.

http://onlinelibrary.
wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1442-99
93.1996.tb00600.x/abstract

Comment edited on: 6/27/2012 1:25:36 PM

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EATNBOOGERS 6/27/2012 1:15PM

    This isn't a brush fire (at least, not all of it), it's a forest fire. Harder to do controlled burns. We had an extremely dry and warm winter, spring and start of summer. Doing controlled burns would have been very hazardous.

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VHALKYRIE 6/27/2012 12:53PM

    Unfortunately, controlled burns are very hazardous in Colorado due to the extreme arid conditions and high winds in the mountains. There was a controlled burn just a few years ago that went out of control, and the decision was made to stop them.

The situation in CO has gone out of control because they've been in a 10 year drought. Snowfall was nearly non existant in COS this year, so there is almost no moisture in the ground or vegetation to begin with. They've also had a terrible pine beetle infestation that has left a lot of dead trees, that are pure kindling.

There are reports there might be a thunderstorm later today, but that might not be a good thing. Rain would be good, but more wind and lightning is not. :(

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LADYROSE 6/27/2012 12:36PM

    Many, many hugs. I have a friend that lives there and have been freaking out right along with her. It's so scary how fast this fire has grown and hit the town. The fact that it's so hot and dry isn't helping things, either. :(

Been sending lots of prayers to the folks that live there and to the fire fighters who are working around the clock to get it under control... also thowing in an extra prayer for a steady rain with no wind or lightning to come along.

Comment edited on: 6/27/2012 12:38:02 PM

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NAYPOOIE 6/27/2012 12:20PM

    I wish they would realize that controlled burns would keep this kind of thing under control better than trying to put out every brush fire that starts. After decades of fire suppression, any fire is a disaster because the fuel has built up. If the wilderness burns frequently, like it did before people decided they knew better, fires are generally a minor disruption.

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GERIKRAGH 6/27/2012 12:11PM

    Several years ago Yosemite burned in a lot of places. We've been there several times since and new growth is going on. It's not fun watching fires burn around our loved ones, but fires are sometimes necessary for new growth. Acorns break open due to the high heat of fires. I hope God gives you peace.

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REDSHOES2011 6/27/2012 12:04PM

    Is looking at the weather Gods looking down on denmark and asking our dear maker to send some of the rain we are having over to your town.. We have had more than enough and are willing to share.

emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 6/27/2012 12:05:40 PM

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SKINNYPOWELL1 6/27/2012 11:45AM

    Saying a prayer for your loved ones in CO.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MYTURN11 6/27/2012 11:41AM

    I have been watching the reports of these fires and I hope your family and friends remain safe. This is all so very sad.

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ARCHIMEDESII 6/27/2012 11:26AM

    I've been watching the reports from the news. It's just frightening how bad those fires are not only in Colorado, but across many Southwestern states like New Mexico and Arizona.

Hopefully, many of these burned areas will be able to recover. Do a google search for Yosemite. There was a terrible fire there in 1988. Rangers were worried those burned areas would never bounce back, but they did. Some fires can help.

Hopefully, things will get better soon.



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VHALKYRIE 6/27/2012 11:20AM

    LINDAKAY228: Thank you for your comment. That is a very interesting point about the flooding due to the lack of trees, oh dear. Best wishes to you down there in NM for the summer.

CTTAGENT: Thank you, I hope they get a good turn of events soon.

NICHOLE_4: Colorado Springs is very uniquely Rocky Mountain beautiful. I hope it will recover quickly.

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LINDAKAY228 6/27/2012 11:16AM

    Living in New Mexico we also deal with the fire threats all the time. It's so sad to see on the news what is happening around Colorado Springs. I was there once a number of years ago and it was so beautiful. I was actually born outside of Denver but we left there when I was young. It's heartbreaking to see areas we love so much burning like that. We've had major fires here this year too and now the threat is that once the rains start flooding is a major concern as a lot of brush, shrub, grass, etc that slows down the flow of water is gone. My sympathy to you, your parents, and all those who are affected so badly by the fire. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone.

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VHALKYRIE 6/27/2012 11:09AM

    DDOORN: I agree. But unfortunately, the time to get serious about it was back in the 70s. Climate change is a rolling boulder. It takes decades to change something that massive. It is going to be painful.

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DDOORN 6/27/2012 11:03AM

    Our country has much to learn about respecting our land and climate change is going to visit some *serious* learning on us whether we like it or not!

Don

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CTTAGENT 6/27/2012 10:51AM

    I am so sorry to hear what is happening. I hope they get it under control soon.

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EATNBOOGERS 6/27/2012 10:15AM

    I've gotten the most up to date info from Twitter. And yeah, FB is a valuable tool, too.

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VHALKYRIE 6/27/2012 10:07AM

    The amazing thing to me is the era that we live in. I get current reporting on the situation from friends on Facebook. I know that they, personally, are safe because they're posting statuses. This would be more nerve wracking without social media, as it would feel like a lot of dead air.

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EATNBOOGERS 6/27/2012 10:04AM

    I've been really freaked out about the fires this summer. The fire near Ft. Collins is in familiar territory (we like to hike and camp up that way), and the images from the Springs last night blew me away. We've got fire behind the Flatirons now, and the house smells like a campfire. It's unreal. I hope your family and friends stay safe.

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NICHOLE_4 6/27/2012 10:04AM

    I love Colorado Springs! This is just soooooooooooo sad!

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