May 05, 2008

Pull Ups and Push Ups: For Women Too?

[By Crabby]

(Photo by hrtmnstrfr)

So, you want to learn how to do push ups or pull ups? The 2011 update of this post on  Pull-Up and Push-Ups for Women is a much better resource. Sorry for the extra click--but it's got much more in the way of practical tips and much less in the way of whining!

Or, well, if you're feeling too lazy to relocate, here's the original version:

Who Changed The Rules?

Pull Ups and Push Ups: all of a sudden, it seems, we women are being urged to take 'em on.

If I'm not mistaken, we used to be considered exempt. We had a special easy kind of push-up just for us, the "girls" version, with knees down. And as to pull ups? Most guys can't do 'em either, and they have all that testosterone--only Super Fit Weightlifter Gals were supposed to be able to rise to the challenge. The rest of us could crank out a few lat pulls or hop on the Gravitron and call it a day.

But as women have gotten more empowered and stronger and started to take over the weight rooms and fitness magazines, the "bar," so to speak, has been raised.

Wait, you're still here?  Did you miss the link above?  Seems a shame you're reading this old post (which I'm a bit embarrassed about, honestly) when there's a newer updated post that has all the information in this one, plus more handy tips.  So let's try that again, shall we?  Here's the 2011 Cranky Fitness post on how to do push ups and pull ups.

Or not. Sigh. Whatever....

And so while I'm usually able to ignore Fit Bloggers who do Incredible Things (like Bunny Girl or Nitmos) the call to master these two forms of torture exercises is getting louder every day.

The New York Times was recently pushing push-ups. Geek Girl recently dissected the anatomy of a push up. Even bloggers we love such as MizFit and Stumptuous and Jen at Survival of the Fittest and Kelly at Fitness Fixation (and in the News) seem to be telling us: Push Ups and Pull Ups are great and you gals can all learn to do them too!

Well, my response to these beloved sources of inspiration?

Screw it, No We Can't!

(Disclaimer: actually, I can do 25ish full-body push-ups, if I have to. I actually prefer other machine-based forms of upper body exercise. But I'm a bazillion years from being able to do an unassisted pull-up. So I can totally relate to those who have Push Up issues, and I will count myself as an honorary member of your Tribe).

What's Wrong With Rising Expectations for Women's Fitness?
Nothing! I am generally on the other side of the argument on this stuff, urging women to do their strength training and railing against the use of teeny tiny pink weights.

But Push-Ups and Pull-Ups are Unfair and Mean!
These exercises are Unfair Benchmarks for fitness. The larger your body weight, the harder they are, even if you're really strong. There are some incredibly fit women who do not have lucky lean metabolisms. Should heavy fit people feel like failures because they can't do some arbitrary body-weight lifting exercise?


So don't feel bad if you can't and won't ever to be able to do them. Keep getting stronger and set whatever goals motivate you.

That Said, I Really Really Want to be Able to Do Some Pull-Ups.
These gals are just a little too inspiring to ignore them entirely. I'm lean enough now that theoretically, pull-ups should be a possibility. On the other hand, I honestly think I'm (a) too old and (b) too lazy to do what it would take to get there.

But still, perhaps I'll try a little harder to get a little closer.

Some Resources if you want to Learn To do Push-Ups or Pull-Ups:

As common sense suggests, you need to approach it incrementally, but the gals above have creative ideas as to how to do that. More specifically:

Crabby Goes to the Gym!
Based on the above resources, it seemed like time for me to try some "negative" pull-ups. These involve starting from the top of a pull-up and lowering yourself down.

I started my pull-up remediation program last week and I learned several things:

1. Negative pull-ups are MUCH easier if you skim the article, ignore the part about "slowly" and just let gravity drop you down, then hop up again and drop down again, etc. in an entirely half-assed manner.

2. Even cheaty half-assed negatives can MAKE YOU SORE AS HELL FOR THREE DAYS AFTERWARDS.

3. If you go back and read the article, then return to the gym and do them right ("a slow three or four count per negative"), you may discover you can hardly do any. Hardly doing any still makes you SORE AS HELL for another couple days.

4. After years of slacky weight training, wherein the goal has been pretty much to maintain strength rather than increase it, feeling SORE AS HELL is actually kinda fun!

(However, check back in a few weeks when I'll probably have stopped doing negatives because they're too hard. Sorry, you weren't, um, coming to Cranky Fitness for inspiration, were you?)

Is anyone else trying to master/increase their push-ups or pull-ups, or do you not give a crap whether you can do them or not?


  1. Im a big fan (of all the other bloggers you linked to and of) doing negatives.

    I definitely started there with push ups (I was too much of a feminist even when I started lifting weights back in the dark ages and REFUSED to do anything referred to as GIRL PUSH UPS. EVER) & my first time outta the gate completed ONE NEGATIVE and was sore for a few days afterward.

    great motivating yet still fraught with crab post,


  2. I've got the push up mastered, but not the pull up. I'm tempted, but don't have anywhere to work on them, as I'm not part of a gym and I doubt our apartment managers would like us screwing a pull up bar into a doorframe. Well, that and I'm pretty lazy.

  3. All this is way beyond me. I've done the occasional standing sort of push up where I lean against a countertop and push myself back at an easy angle. It ends there.

  4. Oh dear. I must really be losing it. When I read the subject line, I thought "pull ups? I thought disposable briefs for adults were called Depends?"

    oh, you mean a *different* kind of pull ups....

  5. Hey, I cannot agree with you. I also have the benefit of sluggish metabolism (and BIIIG appetite), but don't fear my own weight.

    We, girls set our standards too low. If you're too heavy for pull-ups, then you will just have to train harder.

    That's if you want to. If you don't want to, you can stay in the pussy class - we will not love you any less. :)

  6. Put me in the yes on push ups, no way on pull ups category. I have never been able to do one. Maybe it's just a big mental block?

  7. I had the same reaction as Marijke: Crabby's covering toddler training pants & bras??? Awesome! (I know, what kind of fitness blogger am I?)

    That said, I was NOT disappointed. This was hilarious! And you know I'm going to encourage you to do pull-ups. In high school I was the girl for whom the "arm hang" might as well have been the "arm drop to the ground and roll around in embarrassment." And now I do real, actual pull-ups. I credit CrossFit and the Monkey Bar Gym. It's doable! And negatives are the best way to start!! (Step away from the Gravitron...)

  8. I desperately want to be able to do pushups and pullups. I think I'm at a natural disadvantage, though. I'm thin, but I'm tall with looooooong skinny, muscle-free arms. I have so much further to push my weight on pushups! I keep on trying though...

  9. I do body weight exercises like chin/pull ups, push ups, and dips a few times a week. It feels good to be able to do them well. I especially appreciated the training when I locked myself out of the house, and had to pull myself up to the second floor deck to get in!

    Dr. J

  10. I go through phases on upper body workouts. I don't currently do full push-ups, but I feel guilty about it since I used to.

    I've never been able to do a pull up although I was getting closer at one point by training on the assisted pull-up machine at the gym. I really should do that again, but there are only so many hours in a day!

    To be honest, the best fitness philosophy for most mortals is "Do Something." Push ups and pull ups? Hey, if that's a person's thing, go for it. I wouldn't call it the One True Path, though.

  11. I love the idea of a negative pull up.

    As for push ups, I was trying to master the art of the one-armed push up (it really is all in the way you position your legs) until I got pregnant.

    So now I have a free pass until September but for anyone who's already mastered 25 push ups (Crabby) it might be a fun next challenge.

    The whole reason I started learning to do it was to intimidate the guys at the gym. And to feel stronger, blah blah blah. Really it was intimidation.

  12. The Bag Lady can't do push-ups, and hasn't tried a pull-up in many years. But lately she's been doing the calf-push. And the mud-pull-up, but that's a leg exercise....

  13. Pushups: I could never do "girl" pushups. I tried once, back in gym forty years ago, and it took three of them to make me so dizzy I had to lie down or throw up. (Still the case--my inner ear does not LIKE them.) In those days I could do maybe ten "boy" pushups. Then I sprained both wrists. Then, a few years ago I started doing weights and my wrists improved amazingly. Now I can do three pushups--four on a really good day--before my shoulders start screaming. Since I need my shoulders to groom dogs, I'm not willing to ignore pain.

    Pullups? How do you climb trees without doing pullups? Until a few years after puberty I could do pullups forever. Now, I'm with Crabby: too old, too lazy, AND too damaged.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  14. Baglady, the dog pull-and-push, like the calf push, is a Whole Body exercise!

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  15. yeah, i always thought it was lame that the girls got to do push-ups from the knees in high school. not knowing anything at the time about men's vs. women's upper body strength, it just seemed cheesy. still does.

  16. I used to HATE pushups. Now when I teach them in class I get all perky and people look hate at me. I've started teaching them in separate sets of 8, instead of doing all the pushups for the class at one time, in an attempt to get the women to try to do them on their toes (I figure if there are fewer reps, they'll be more likely to try them on their toes).

    Now I want to try a pullup just to see if I can do it. I'll have to see what kind of bar they have at the gym when I'm there tonight...

  17. I'm a big push-up guy. Do 'em every day. However, I hate/fear pull-ups. I've learned to comfort myself with the fact that my arms are abnormally long (think grass stains on the knuckles) and I'm physically incapable of doing them. The math doesn't work out right. Right?

  18. Oooh, also I do gliding pushup, which are fun. I do them on the knees, true, but I have my hands on gliders (imagine paper plates made out of nylon on hardwood floors), and just glide one hand forward (diagonal) with the pushup, or both hands out to the side with the pushup. They're fun :)

  19. Augh, Technorati ate my comment!

    I think the "pushups are only for men" thing is anti-feminist. Obviously, women can do pushups. Men have an advantage, but that's true for all upper-body exercises, and I don't hear anybody claiming that (say) bicep curls are "only for men" and women should just go back to their knitting and gossiping because they don't have the upper body strength. We all know that's bullshit, right?


  20. Hi Crabby,

    Not for me--nope, not for me.

    I'll just hang around and lift my big blue handweights!


  21. I'll admit it. Fitness Fixation inspired me. I've been trying to do them. I have pathetically weak shoulders and chest.

    So far I've been able to do three in a row with less than perfect form. But I feel like I've worked harder than I would with knees up push ups. So hopefully, as I get stronger, my form with improve and I can do more.

  22. I was trying to do one-armed push ups for a while there. I'm one of the lucky ladies who is pretty strong, but NOT lightweight. I got so I could do a couple, then your article reminded me that I just stopped doing them for no reason I'm aware of! Guess I'll go try a couple now.

  23. Hurray! Pull-up links! Thank you:) I'm determined to master the art of the pull-up.

  24. I'll stick to my Yoga poses. I find it funny though that as kids we used to pull ourselves up on monkey bars and such - but I guess that was just playing.

  25. Push ups I can do, pull ups - nope. Well, I'm assuming "nope" since I've never tried them and have no where to do them.

  26. A lot of men I have met have problems with leg exercises. As a woman, I can do leg exercises all day.

    I think the need to do push ups is simply part of the male dominated society that makes them think that push ups are more important than squats.
    When they start making squats important, I'll worry about push ups, thanks.

  27. TOTALLY with you. I need to do pull ups. Seriously. Mostly because I work out with a slew of eighteen-year-old boys, and I am twenty-four and a chick. And they MOCK me when I can't do the pull-ups.

    Also because of that damned scene in G.I. Jane where she does the one-handed push-ups. Stupid shaven-headed Demi Moore making me feel all inadequate.

  28. I am not a push-up or pull-up kinda girl...I can do the "girl" kind to get me through when I HAVE TO do them, but my upper body is not strong enough (or so it seems) to do either skill well...The boyfriend has been pushing me on the assisted pull-up thingy when we work out together, but I'm a weeny and I complain, 'cause it sucks and I don't like feeling like I can't do something. Therefore, I just don't do the things that I'm not good at...

  29. ewwww...push ups! Those are the things I'll get really motivated for about a month over- do them every day, increase the amount I can do, etc...and then stop. I'll go back a month later and not be able to do one. Pitiful, I know.

  30. Look at Tei working the 18 year-olds!!

  31. I was a big kid who became a bigger adult, so I have never done a successful pull up in my life. It's almost a mythical exercise to me, how can one person lift themselves up lik that?

  32. A different Red here. I love push ups because you don't need any equipment to do them and they do really provide a good core/back/arm workout. I'm still working on the pull ups. I've been lifting for a couple of years but fell into a rut of old routines so I've been working my way through the routines in New Rules of Lifting for Women and have to say that they're pretty kick ass. They even have a section devoted to mastering the pull up. Can't wait to do that!

  33. Pull ups? Ha! Out of the question. I can't even do a push up to save my life. Truly, I thought I was alone in that embarrassment.

    My military-trained son gives me that incredulous look and says "Really? You can't?" Then he proceeds to show me how he can do them while grasping weights in his hands, which he brings all the way across the front of his body, one at a time, on the up motion. Who raised that freakin' little showoff?

  34. I've been doing pushups as part of a workout for a while. It's part of my exercise ball workout. The nice thing is I can put my legs on the ball and move it further and further away from my waist area as I get stronger. It makes you helluva stiff at first, but really makes for toned arms and shoulders. It is rather annoying to have a bit of a bicep though - today's styles aren't really cut for muscles there.
    It's cool to flex and see mucles developing there.
    I'd like to try the pull up, but have no bar anywhere...I've been thinking of putting one up in my craft room hard are they to mount so they won't rip the door frame apart?

  35. One more girl here that has no problems with the push-up, but couldn't do a pull-up to save my life. But for me, and I've never really seen this addressed, it's my grip strength that is lacking rather than the arm strength. My hands just can't take my body weight, even an arm hang. Any suggestions on that problem??

    Full disclosure, I've had arthritis problems in my hands since I was 18, so I don't see this resolving in my lifetime. Good thing it's not required learning!

  36. In my prime, a mere handful of decades ago, I could do 50 push ups in one minute and 12-15 "pull" ups. (Does nobody call them "chin ups" anymore?) I could even do a few one-armed jobbies, but I cheated by clasping my pulling wrist with my other hand.

    I can still do a few push ups but haven't tried a pull up in ages. I suspect they're a heck of a lot tougher now.

  37. I have to say that I wish I could say I have the pull-up mastered. I can do 4 pull-ups bicep curl style, but the goal of doing 1 or more wide bar front grip is kicking my ass.

    I save this exercise until last because I hate it so much, using the weight assisted machine makes me feel so weak. On every other exercise I have exceeded my goals and am making good progress but I am stuck at the weigh assisted machine...

    Argh to wide grip front grip pull-ups!

  38. Oh, I shall never forget the feeling of embarrassment and shame I experienced one day a year, every year, throughout junior high and high school - Presidential Fitness Day. I could do the Bent Arm Hang for approx. 0.0 seconds. I would love to be able to do pull-ups - how tough did Demi Moore (or was in Linda Hamilton) look doing them in that movie? Yes, it was Linda, in the asylum. Anyways, my husband went to the gym yesterday and jumped on the pull-up bndwagon, eeking out 12 on his first try. Garh!

  39. I think my lack of upper body strength and general athletic ability really pissed off a few P.E. teachers in the mid to late eighties. Oh well, I've done O.K. in life and I still can't do a pull up.

    What is it today about pull ups? This is the second conversation I've had about pull ups today and let me tell you, I just don't talk about pull ups normally.

    -- Karen

  40. I want to do a pull up so badly! I can do push-ups till kingdom come, but something about hoisting myself up just doesn't work.

    I'm not a fan of excuses, and never did push-ups on my knees. When my gym teachers told me to start on my knees, I'd tell them I could do whatever the boys could do. I guess that mentality is still very much in place.

  41. "Girl" push-ups - I do those. Not ashamed. Pull-ups... can't remember the last time I did those! I think it was back in elementary school!

  42. i can do 30 pushups ! okay maybe 3 sets of 10 and this ain't no girly shit either

    i beat all the girls on my team including my 2 coaches.

    pull ups? now thats another story. maybe after i master doing clapping push ups... you know where you clap your hands after you push-up?

  43. Member those presidential fitness tests where girls just had to do one pull-up. Just one to pass. My whole life I've still been trying to do that one pull up. Even at my best shape when I worked with a trainer for almost 2 years, I could leg press 400lbs, but still could not do that one pull up. Pissed me off! But that's ok. I'll take my strong where I can get it.

  44. I've learned to do full push-ups since January. It was one of my New Year's Resolutions and it had nothing to do with fitness, really. I sorta finally realized this year that if I'm really going to achieve my professional goal in life, I was going to be doing something that mostly boys do, for the rest of my life. (I mean really, how many girl chemistry professors do you know? Probably none.) This idea made me really uncomfortable, and I realized I was going to have to get over this, so I devised a list of things that mostly boys do that I thought I could learn to do. Push-ups was #1 on the list. I finally did three sets of 10 full push-ups last Tuesday, and it was awesome!! Pull-ups are next! I've been practicing with the assisted pull-up machine since January, but I'm still using 60 pounds of assistance. I'll definitely look at the articles for ideas. Sorry, for telling my life story here in the comments, but this push-up/pull-up thing has taken on a life of its own here.

  45. Hmmm... Ashley, two of my chemistry professors were of the female persuasion. Three if you count biochemistry. :)

    I don't mean this comment to sound sexist, but 2 of the 3 were by far the best of my chemistry teachers.

  46. And I don't equate biochemistry with chemistry because I've linked it in my mind with biology instead. Pray excuse my bias: my degree was in biology, not chemistry, because I found biology fascinating. Therefore (MerryLogic), since I found biochemistry fascinating, and I loathed O. Chem and classes of that ilk, biochemistry must be considered part of biology.
    (Well, it makes sense to me.)

  47. "Real" pushups hurt my boobs. In not a good hurt kind of way. That's my excuse to stick with girl ones, but I can knock those out. ha ha. As for pull ups/ HELL NO. I always hated that day in gym class when you had to do at least ONE pull up to pass the "Presidential" exam or whatever it was called. Damn that day. I think they tested our body fat too. Now, that alone will make a teenage girl leap off the deep end.

  48. It's comforting to me to see the range of opinions on push ups and pull ups here! I've never been able to do either (well, pushups I can do against a wall or a few from my knees), though when I belonged to a gym a few years back I thought the Gravitron was pretty fun. I also kind of like the exercise ball push ups geosomin mentioned, and if I ever actually get around to buying myself an exercise ball I'll work on those again. (First to work on where to put an exercise ball in my postage-stamp-sized apartment...)

    With push-ups, I always get lost trying to figure out exactly where my hands should be, where my elbows should go, and where my face should end up in relation to my hands at the lowest point of the move. Suggestions welcome!

  49. Merry.... yeah! I'm glad somebody has female chemistry professors. Allegedly, 10% of the chemistry professoriate is female, but somehow none of the professors I've had have been. I'm a physical/theoretical chemist, which you probably didn't have to take if you were a biology major. Usually bio majors stop at OChem. PChem is were you deal with physics on the molecular level and the classical laws of mechanics don't apply and you have to use quantum mechanics.

  50. Wow, what an awesome and educational and hilarious bunch of comments! I'm finding the bio chem discussion fascinating, for example, and who knew we'd get there from push ups?

    I'm SO glad to discover that even tough rugby players (I am in awe of rugby players) still can't necessarily knock out a bunch of pull-ups, nor can guys, nor can many people who are obviously sensible and fit.

    (And I'd almost forgotten about the Presidential Fitness test thingy--ick.)

    I'm extremely impressed by all the exercises you folks do--one armed push-ups and clapping pushups and all kinds of ridiculous things. It makes me want to work out just a bit harder... either that or take a nap.

  51. I too am working on conquering push ups and pull ups. Negatives do leave me really sore! But I refuse to give up.

    Anyway, to all the folks talking about needing to damage a door frame to install a pull up bar... you don't have to! I have this one, and it just sits on the door jamb. Literally, you set it on the frame in about two seconds. I've had it through 6 apartments (military wife) and it's never damaged a single door. There are several versions out there.

  52. I have a love/hate relationship with pull ups. I feel super tough doing them, but they hurt like hell.
    A while back, I celebrated a huge landmark: being able to do ONE unassisted pull up!! Woohoo!

    *Champagne s'il vous plait!*

    I remember telling my massage therapist about it. Turns out, she is a downhill ski racer, crazy mountain bike chick and... a rock climber...
    She can 25 unassisted pull ups in a row. I would struggle to do that many assisted ones.

  53.'re right about the biochemistry biology thing.
    It's why I ended up with a double major in made the other so interesting I just had to learn more :)

  54. This was quite an interesting post! Is it biology or the noted lack of tree climbing as kids that has kept so many women from being able to do a "pull up" or "chin up" all their lives? I'm appalled!

    I remember the Presidential Fitness thingy, I was in 7th grade and I was the only girl who could do 2 pull ups, I could have done more but they said you had to hang at the bottom or pull evenly or something, I could have got the 3rd or more if I wasn't scared silly and could have bump started more with my right arm. As a kid I was amazed that all those girls could not do even one pull up, they just hung there! And here you all are saying the same thing?

    As a teen and until my late 20s I never needed a pull up bar in a doorway, I used to "chin" myself on the top of door jambs, either by grabbing with my fingertips ONLY from one side, or both sides in a pincer move, and pull up and touch my head to the top of the doorway.

    I was not super skinny and not super muscular, but I was a tomboy and I played hard as a kid. I think it's a matter of growing up using one's muscles the way they were meant to be used. Physically it's probably something like use it early or lose it forever.

    Now that I'm 20+ years older with a bad back that's gotten better, I can finally do ONE pull up at the outside gym in the park, and I can swing across the overhead whatchamacallit, bar to bar. My muscles have the feel of a rotten rubber band sometimes though, I think it's that they are cold, but I know I need to get back to weights consistently. Because of my back and carpal tunnel, I do lots of "counter" push ups, but otherwise for the full body, my wrists can't take it anymore. And I just did a test pull on a door jamb, and I can't believe I ever did those so easy or walked on my hands either.

    Damage to my wrists, elbows, hands and shoulders over the years means those days are gone forever. PLUS I weigh 20 pounds more! BUT I sure appreciate everyone who posted on equipment and technique!

  55. Ah, yes! I wrote about the same thing in my post called Real Pushups vs Girly Pushups.

    One of the things on my 101 Things list is to be able to do "at least one unassisted pullup." I practice, but I'm nowhere near being able to do one, either!

    Go, you! For being able to do 25-ish on-the-toes pushups! Mad impressive! :)

  56. Aaah -- I'm late to the party! (I didn't allow myself Google Reader until I finished the article I was working on, and it looks like I really missed out.)

    First, thank you Crabby for linking to my pull-up posts -- I don't think I'm done talking about them yet, as I still can't seem to shake the topic.

    So interesting to see the range of opinions, from "HELL NO" to "of course"! (You know what camp I'm in.)

    For those looking for a bar that won't screw up their door frames, try the Door Gym -- it doesn't need to be screwed in at all, so not only does it keep your jambs lookin' good, but it's portable. The cheapest one I found is at Karate Depot:

  57. Because

    1) of an injured knee and wrist, courtesy of attempting to keep up with the skinny girls at various stages during my formative years,

    2) of the fact that my lean body mass -- that's muscles, organs, and bones, for those playing at home -- is apparently bigger than a size zero, so a Hollywood figure I will never have, and

    2) the more Pilates I do, the stronger I get and the cuter I look,

    I have a tendency to look at the pullup bar and say ...
    "Hmmm ... how about never? Does never work for you?"

    P.S. CF, congrats on the 25, you hardcore, you.

  58. Pull ups are a MUST, not to hit some arbitrary level of fitness, but because they really change your upper body more than any other exercise I know of! Want a sexy back and toned arms? You'd better be doing pull ups! Seriously, after years of doing curls, pull downs, etc. I have never seen my upper-body physique transformed as much as when I started doing pull ups and chin ups.

    When I first started, I could not even do ONE. So, I started with a gravitron machine. Once I was able to do about 80% of my body weight about 10 times, I headed for the pull up bar. I did one, and it was all I could do. Then I did it again. And again. Pretty soon, I could do 2. Then 3. Then 4...

    So YES, they're hard, but it's just like anything- if you practice it and really work at it, you too can do pull ups! Now, I strap on 25lbs and do about 6 reps. With body weight only, I can do about 12 without stopping. I do 6-7 sets per workout. I weigh 160lbs.

  59. Girl, get your fat ass off the couch and drop and give me fifty! Who cares if you're a girl or a guy, even Arnold Schwarzenegger said that human muscle is human muscle, you're just making excuses for yourself because you're some wussy girl who can't run a mile in less than 10 minutes. Guys have to work out at the age of 14 just to be socially accepted by society, and girls are going around screaming for equality but at the same time whining "oh but we don't want to have to work for it like the men do." If you're too fat to do a pullup, then stop eating. If you're too weak to do a pushup, then hit the bench. It's as simple as that, if you want equality, you have to work for it. Enough with the "girl pushups," that's so last decade. Do you think the girls in the Marines do girl pushups? It's girls like you who whine and cry instead of sucking it up who are making it harder for girls to be accepted in athletics. Either do it or shut up.

  60. Hey!
    I just wanted to say that I really appreciate your blog and your post - and I think your response to Nikki's blog post was appropriate. I just wanted to let you know that a lot of the writers on there all have different points of view, and...she is one that stirs the pot.

    This was my response:
    The deals I do have with your post, to kind of piggy-back off of Crabby, is that
    1) I've seen your pics. You're young and lean like a tiger. This is a walk in the park for you. I dig what you're saying that we asked for "equality" and now we have to deal with certain things, but some of us don't have your physiology, and pull ups are a bitch. I've been lifting weights since I was 15 and I still can't do them. My body won't let me.
    2) "If you're too weak to do a pushup, hit the bench." - I agree. I think all women need to lift weights because it will help when you get to be old bastards like us in our 30's and we realize we need healthy bones. However to say "If you're too fat to do a pull up, lose some weight." - I think that is a misinformed and fucked up statement. There have been times in my 20's when I was in top athletic condition, actually at the perfect if not underweight, and I STILL couldn't do a push-up. And I have the broad muscular shoulders to do a lot of upper body stuff.

    To say "if you're fat, lose weight," in this context is...a bit harsh, I think. Crab is right - it's a slap in the face to all the chicks who actually are at a good weight (and I mean healthy weight with a healthy lifestyle) who couldn't do one - and who are told every day when they open a magazine that they are too fat - when their doctor says that if they lose any weight they will be too thin.

    I appreciate your candor and the ability as a woman to chastise many women for thinking that equality should be handed to them on a silver platter if they bitch about what's on the platter. Your stories about rowing and fighting fires are always a delight. But I worry that you think more women are like whimpering whiners than there are. There are a lot of women who are tough as nails and they don't need to do a one-armed push-up to prove it.

    I like to do regular push-ups because girl ones hurt my back and I feel like I get better peck work out of the "dude" push-ups...but I still can't do a pull-up, and I don't know if I will. And I can live with it. LOL

    Be well, sorry to take up so much space, but I didn't want you to think the because people write on my blog that I always agree. On BlogCatalog it lists ME as having written it...and that caused some horror on my end.

    ~ d

  61. Thanks Billychick!

    Appreciate your stopping by and sharing your thoughts and providing great balance about the issue over at your site.

    Nice to meetcha!

  62. Really fun to read these posts! I've been working towards doing a pullup since February of this year (Nov 3 today!). When I started I could not even hang from the bar. I started out just getting strong enough to do hanging leg raises unassisted on the bar. Also I've been using the assisted pullup machine, working more on negatives with less and less weight. I can do 10 negatives unassisted from the "real" bar now - and every time I do them they feel stronger and slower! My goal is to do my first unassisted pullup on December 1 - which will be my 50th birthday. NOTHING has EVER toned up my upper body like this process has! So even if you never make it to a pullup - just start HANGING from the bar unassisted, start doing some HANGING LEG RAISES, and things will really start shaping up!

  63. Hey thanks anon!

    I'm getting closer, but hitting a plateau with the negatives and the gravitron.

    Hadn't thought of the hanging leg raises, great idea!

  64. How can you call these exercises arbitrary? They are probably the most fundamental and natural upper body exercises, or at least among them. And they are not benchmarks of absolute strength, but of relative strength, which many find more indicative of one's fitness level. So I disagree that women can be extremely fit and not be able to do these because of metabolism.

  65. And 'd,' there is no way you were in great physical shape and couldn't do a push-up, that is ridiculous. How you said you have been lifting weights since you were 15, what is your point? Push-ups are not the same. Do push-ups if you want to get better at them.

  66. Late to the conversation, but just stumbled upon it. I just had my third child (2 months old) and have entered a local "biggest loser" competition for the next three months to get rid of the 50 pounds I gained pg.

    I found out today at registration that one of the mandatory events is a monthly team push-up, sit-up, pull-up comptetition. I guess I shouldn't have been hubby is Active Duty and the event is being held at the base gym. I've had years of being in great shape and years where I really let myself go.

    I am motivated and dedicated to succeeding at this...but I don't know how realistic it will be in the three month time frame to be doing pull-ups. I'm 35 and didn't workout much during the last pregnancy. I've been back on the treadmill and eating healthier for about a month....any suggestions and "friendly" comments how to reach my goals would be greatly appreciated!

  67. Are you saying its unfair to ask someone regardless of gender to be able to efficiently move there own body weight? The fact of the matter is that if you can't do dips, pull ups, and push ups you are out of balance physically.

  68. Not liking being a woman in general (no pregnancy for me, no pregnancy weight, no toddlers, no pink PLEASE) I hated the distinction between female push ups and male ones. It's just socializing girls to think that push ups are impossible. It is true that for the sake of popping out one or two we as women lack upper body strength and muscle-it's all fat fat fat but one can work against this trend.
    I started off with being able to do about 25 push ups and one unassited pull up. I've been doing P90X for a while(not to sound like an advertisement) and discovered that finally I can do unassisted pull ups-both wide hands and narrow hands and about 7-8 chin ups. I can only do one pull up at a time, true. It's a start. Not sure how many push ups I can do in a row now..hopefully more than 25.
    Granted I have the 'petite' advantage (5 4 114 lbs) so I don't have much to lift-but then again, my arms aren't long as arm span pretty much matches height.
    Go for it girls. Show them boys we are not all about babies and gossip!

  69. I am getting closer and closer on the push ups. I've been doing Cross Fit...yeah, it looks good on paper, but it's the hardest workout I've ever done. My goal in life is to be able to do pull ups. I am looking forward to doing that first ONE!!

  70. Oh my lord you guys are hysterical. finally! Kindred spirits! My hubby was so helpful and made a chin up bar just for me. The first day I reached up on my tippy toes, grabbed hold of that bar and just hung... for 5 seconds. When I picked myself up off the ground and manuevered my shoulders back into their sockets I went and got a stool. As far as being strong enough to "pull" myself somewhere..... I'm still waiting.

  71. Do push ups and eventually you'll have enough power to do bar dips. Do Australian pull ups(bodyweight rows) and gain strength for pull ups. Pull ups and bar dips are harder. When you are able to do 3 sets of 10 reps of Australian pull ups, you'll be most likely to do one strict pull up. Luv to all you ladies uzeyr from Pakistan ;)

  72. I am in the military and have trained many of my female buddies to do more pushups and pullups. I find that the biggest difference between the women who can do pushups/pullups and the women who can't I'd that the ones who can work hard and push their limits. Many of these women had never really worked their lats before, so of course their muscles were weak. Ladies, push yourselves!


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