There are no quick fixes to improve fitness!
I was thinking last night about what I was going to blog about this week, and came up with the idea of this blog after finishing my weight session yesterday evening. I got my pull-up bar for my 41st birthday, my lovely husband bought it me as my wish was to be able to perform 10 pull-ups. At that time I was just indoor rowing and doing some bodyweight stuff as I hadn't got into all the weight training I do now in my sessions. Anyhow I was very excited about the prospect of achieving my target of 10 pull-ups and after hubby had fixed it to the rafters in the garage I set to work training on it.
Now a pull-up is a pretty hard bodyweight exercise for anyone to do. You have to use all your strength to pull yourself up so your head is above the bar and your feet are dangling off the floor! Its a massive feat of upper strength and many women struggle with it for many reasons, such as lack of strength due to lack of strength training or just lack of technique and not knowing where to start. The internet though is a wonderful thing and although there is a lot of heresay and false information on it there are some really interesting fitness articles, so I started reading the ones that focussed on pull-up training. Then I started off small, luckily as I was training anyway I had some upper strength and managed 2 for my first go, I was ecstatic and this made me more determined to succeed!
Over the months I carried on and by May last year - so a year after my pull-up bar arrived - I was able to perform 8-9. Now pull-ups have to be executed properly in my book and that means full range of motion, you see some people who are able to knock off 15 no problem but there is a problem. They are using bad form and not fully extending their arms on the way down. This is frowned upon in the fitness world and obviously I was focussed on 10 reps done perfectly. By August I had done it, I achieved my goal so it had taken a whole year of doing these pull-ups 2/3 times a week 2 sets of how many I could push my body to do. It sure as hell wasn't easy and by the end of the 10 reps your back, lats well everything is screaming! By October I was getting cocky and then I became unstuck, my form hadn't been as good as I thought it was and I started to get forearm pain so I stopped them for round 5 months.
By March my forearm was better and I had studied good form and decided to start again but slowly. It is amazing how quickly you lose muscle strength! It was frustrating after all my hard work to have to start at the beginning again but I was also excited for the challenge. So I started small, I was able to do 3 'proper' ones then added 1 every week or couple of weeks. See there is no quick fix, you have to train and challenge your body so that it is able to make the right adaptations so that what you are working toward is achieved. Last night I was very pleased as I was able to do 8 full reps for 1 set and after 1 minute of rest another 7 reps.
Now some people may say 'its only a pull-up what's the big deal?' and yes it is only a pull-up and not an amazing feat to some people, but my point is it was a challenge to me and also required some hard graft to get there. It wasn't something that could be achieved in a week or even 2 it took training and some guts to push a little further every week and add another one. It felt uncomfortable on some occasions and had me puffing on others but I did it and I am proud I did it too - I have also made my target more of a challenge this time and have added 5 more to the tally so I have to get to 15, but with consistency and my determination to succeed I will!
Getting back to general fitness after a break for whatever reason also sometimes feels like a mountain to climb and I am sure that's why some people just get 'stuck in the rut' of not performing exercise, as they think 'what's the point and its too much like hard work' , well yes they're right it definitely won't happen over night, and it will take some guts to pull on the shorts and trainers and step outside their comfort zone for 30 minutes 3 times a week and get that heart rate up, but I can also tell them that the feeling they will get from completing their first ever exercise session will be quite something, and how they will feel when they realise their general fitness has improved after working really hard and consistently for 3 months will be priceless as will the change in their health and general well-being.
So come on and take the first step onto that mountain, its a great view from the top!