Motivation Monday: The pull-up edition

I am equal parts triumphant and embarrassed today. Embarrassed because as a person with strong shoulders who took pride in beating all the boys at push-ups in high-school gym class, this is a goal I should have achieved long ago. Triumphant because yesterday, I did a pull-up!

I’ve been trying—OK, fine, *wanting*—to eke out a single pull-up for years. But last year, I realized it wasn’t just about shoulder strength, but also grip strength, of which I had none. So I got busy with my Black Diamond forearm trainer. That, plus my work on the assisted pull-up machine at the gym, paid off yesterday.

I was doing sets of six pull-ups with 10 pounds of assistance when I realized 10 pounds is really not a lot of assistance. So I tried one without assistance—and did it!

This is motivational for me because it proves something all endurance athletes know: If you pick a sensible training plan and put in the work to complete it, you can accomplish pretty much any athletic goal you set out to. It’s a timely reminder, too—I was in the gym yesterday because I still can’t run or ski or otherwise play outside. But I know that if I keep following my PT plan to strengthen and rehab my right leg, I’ll be there soon.

By the way, at six-plus weeks out, my PT lineup is actually worth sharing as a workout. I did a slightly revised version of this workout on my own at the gym yesterday, doubling my time on the StairMaster (SO HARD!) and using a leg-press machine that isolates each leg rather than doing straight-up single-leg presses.

Single-leg quad extensions – 40 pounds, 4 sets of 10 (it’s getting stronger!)

Single-leg hamstring curls – 35 pounds 4 sets of 10

Single-leg press – 90 pounds, 4 sets of 10 (or 210 pounds on the aforementioned machine that lets each leg work independently, but simultaneously)

Medicine-ball throw—at trampoline, while standing on right leg on wobbly thing- with 15 lb. medicine ball

Single-leg squat – 4X10

Squats on wobble board, placed diagonally – 4X10

Hurdles and side shuffle with machine – 5X, each way

Stairmaster – 15 minutes of intervals, at the highest level you can handle (again: SO HARD! I broke up my 30 minutes yesterday into two sessions)

Treadmill: walking backwards – 5 minutes

Stool scoot – two laps around room. I literally sit on a stool with wheels, and scoot myself around the room using the heel of my injured leg.

Calf raises – three directions – 2X15

Leg lifts – 11 pounds – all four directions

T.K.E.s I do these with a gray TheraBand to strengthen the V.M.O. muscle, which runs along the inside of the quad. My physical therapist says this is the first muscle to go and the last to come back in ACL rehab.

Of course, I supplemented all this with a healthy dose of core and upper-body stuff—including lots of pull-ups, some assisted, some not. Want to train yourself to be able to do one, too? Try Women’s Health 12-week plan, which starts with a flexed-arm hang and takes you through negative pull ups and mini pull-ups.

Today, I’m still patting myself on my (very sore!) back for my accomplishment. What accomplishments are motivating you this week?


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11 responses to “Motivation Monday: The pull-up edition

  1. Way to go! Your PT sounds hard!! I did laugh picturing you scooting around the track on a stool!

    • It IS really funny! Everyone else in the room at PT has to get out of the way, but since it’s a slooow movement, it takes a while to get by … ends up being quite the spectator sport!

  2. amy

    Oooh! I love VMO training! I was always so psyched when the trainers at school would comment on how strong mine was during rehab. I made it a goal during PT as I hadn’t done a very good job on my first one. I think it’s made a big difference in my overall leg strength, even 13 years later!

    • I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t even know the VMO existed before this round of PT. Now, I’m obsessed with it! What else do you do to strengthen yours?

      • amy

        A lot of one leg balance stuff – on the bosu, a proprio-pad, the floor. I also roll my quad out slightly on leg extensions and leg presses to make sure it gets the max benefit.

        I’m not diligent about it now but definitely was during rehab.

  3. Lauri

    Way to go on the pull up! That’s my 2011 goal to do an unassisted pull up. I’m still at 40lbs resistance, so I’ve got a ways to go!

  4. hot DOG, woman! i don’t even try with the pull-ups. maybe next year. also, my VMO has a death grip on my leg. why? no clue.

  5. that’s so awesome! i definitely had way much more assistance when i did them…

    this workout would give me more doms, for sure.

  6. Congrats on your pullup! Being a big guy (250lbs) it’s not easy for me to do them either. Luckily, I’ve started rock climbing so I’m pretty much forcing myself to do more. My goal is to be able to do 20 by the end of the year (I used to be able to 2!).

    Keep up the good work!

  7. Congrats on your pull-up!!! Isn’t it a great feeling when you set a goal, work towards it, and then accomplish it!

  8. Pingback: Am I getting a very good upper body workout? : Body Building Blog | Free Fitness Tips & Body Building…

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