This week at the gym has been awesome. I get excited when I hit a single PR (personal record) at the gym, but when two happen… it’s almost too great to believe. Some PRs come fairly easily, such as adding 5 or 10 lbs to a deadlift, push press, or back squat. They require sheer determination, lots of energy, and, as a friend once recommended, a bit of anger. There was one time when I was trying to push jerk 110 lbs and I kept getting stuck at 105. “Think about something that makes you mad and goooo!” she yelled at me. Suddenly the bar flew into the air.
Other PRs are a battle because they just need to click, if you know what I mean. They’re skill-based, instead of strength-based. I’ve been fighting with double-unders for a year now. Admittedly, I haven’t been practicing as much as I should, and I’ve been losing a lot of time on my WODs by doing a silly single-skip-double-skip routine. You’d think double-unders would come easily, considering that I spent most of my elementary school recesses skipping on the pavement. I could do double-dutch, but double-unders? Forget it. This week, though, they just happened… and I pounded out nine in a row without missing a beat. I even got a few triples in. The crazy thing is that it almost seems too easy; why did it take me so long?
My second PR of the week is pull-ups. I’ve been doing unassisted pull-ups for a while now, but they still felt like a battle. I had trouble stringing them together, always needing to reset in between, and they took forever to complete. Jason, my impressively knowledgeable husband, gave me a few tips: “Keep your feet together. Use your back swing. Kick hard like you mean it.” Ever since, I’ve been thinking about pull-ups and playing them through in my mind, trying to visualize the ideal movement while cooking, changing diapers, and even writing.
My golden opportunity arrived on Tuesday night. The WOD was 10! (factorial) chest-to-bar pull ups, box jumps, and GHD sit-ups. (That means 10 reps of each, followed by 9 of each, then 8, all the way down to 1.) I started with unassisted pull-ups, a thin band hanging on the bar for when I got too tired. To my astonishment, as soon as I got on that bar, I raced through the first 10 without a single break. With Jason’s tips in mind, I kept my feet together, kicked violently, and lowered myself more slowly, pushing forward to swing straight into the next pull-up. Coach Mattie walked by and said, “Where did those come from?!” I was just as surprised as he was, and absolutely exhilarated. I did the entire WOD unassisted and felt damn powerful afterwards. Better yet, my hands didn’t even tear open after all those reps. For the past two days, I’ve been fantasizing about the pull-up bar. I want more. Muscle-ups, beware… you are about to be conquered.
So, take that, you ridiculously incorrect New York Times article about “why women can’t do pull-ups“! I’m living proof, along with countless other girls, that we CAN do it.