Today’s article was inspired by a close friend, Paul. During a casual conversation he mentioned that he’d had an epiphany about something I’d said to him a few months back. Paul has always been fit and healthy, but over the last two years or so, he’s ramped it up a good bit. One of the exercises that he really likes and has done good at are pull-ups. Pull-ups are a great exercise and they can also be very hard to do when you’re just starting out. Several months ago, Paul asked me a simple question… How can I do more pull-ups?
That is an excellent question! I started with my standard personal trainer response… Weighted negatives, lat pulldown, interval training, assisted pull-ups, curls, bentover rows, yada yada yada…
While these are certainly ways to increase your maximum number of pull-ups, I also thought of something else, and said so. “The easiest way to do more pull-ups is to lose some weight.”
Wow! There… I said it! And, it felt good to say!!!
Paul laughed and said, “That actually makes sense.” The light switch clearly clicked in Paul’s head that day… But, he did something for me too. By seeing how simple this idea was, and by saying so, Paul opened my eyes. I decided to do a little investigation; which I am want to do in times like these. Can you guess what I figured out?
Did you know that the average person can do about one to two extra pull-ups for every 5% of body weight loss? If we go one step further, you can do approximately three pull-ups with each 10% of body weight you lose. Think about that for a moment and let it sink in. To make this more real, let’s show an example:
Say a man weighs 185 pounds and has 22% body fat. In order to drop his weight by 10%, he’d have to lose 18.5 pounds; which would take him down to 166.5 pounds and 12% body fat.
During the weight loss period, this “example man” would also be working out and increasing strength anyway, but now he’d have the advantage of a lower weight and do even more pull-ups then if he ONLY increased his strength. On top of that, he would be considerably healthier at 12% body fat instead of a beefy 22%
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Pretty cool huh?
Now let’s talk about my epiphany. To me, counting pull-ups is arbitrary. I mean what does it really mean, except being able to say you can do more than someone else. No real correlation to things in life, unless you challenge others in pull-up competitions. My epiphany was in a totally different area… Racing! I started thinking about it, and realized that I could also trim my run times and bike times by trimming the fat.
Here’s a simple question. If you ran your fastest mile with a 18.5 pound backpack on, do you think it would be as fast as you could do without the pack? Of course not!! Now imagine that stripping that extra bit of fat off your body (which is what most of us want to do anyway) is a weighted backpack. This gets exponentially more important when hills are involved! You get my point?
Wanna trim some seconds off your 5K time? Wanna get a PR (personal record) in your next triathlon? Wanna finish faster in a mountain bike race? Maybe you simply want to run up some neighborhood hills without feeling like you’re dying! Obviously you need to workout and train hard to continue improving… But, I just gave you an ace up your sleeve. Include a proper nutrition plan and cardio/weight training regiment to properly lose fat, while building muscle and you will beat your competition!!! Guaranteed or 100% of your money back!
I sincerely hope this advice helped skim some time off your next race!
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Something tells me this Paul may be a mutual acquaintance, ha! I think this is a great post and definitely makes sense. Could you ride your bike towing a cinder block? Probably, but if you were to cut that rope you might suddenly feel like a fully juiced Lance Armstrong.
I think another crowd to address would be the folks who don’t have much flab to shed, whatever the body type. This is where your favorite 4 letter acronym CANI might come in.
My approach and advice for these folks but be to ask themselves, “How many ___________ (pull-ups in this case) can I do TODAY?” At this point we have a benchmark to work from. Every time you walk by the pull-up bar, (yes, you must purposely place yourself within reach of a pull-up bar) rip off as many as you can. Repeat this process until you can rep out ONE MORE!. And keep repeating! Maybe make a game out of it. Then go buy some new shirts that are V-shaped
Exactly, Pat! I already know that you get it, and really appreciate your advice and comments. Excellent analogy with the cinder block… Also, love the tip of banging out pull-ups every chance you get.
As usual, thank you very much for your input!
p.s. Yep… Our Paul is one in the same. (;