Losing Weight, Looking Fatter: Why each diet makes it worse

Losing Weight, Looking Fatter: Why each diet makes it worse

Between your skin and bones, there’s muscle and fat. If you’re over the age of 20 (yes…20!), and have been consistently inactive, your body will naturally gain fat and lose muscle when not on a lifting and/or healthy (higher protein) eating regimen. This happens as a result of being sedentary, and not engaging muscles. Many of us set the same goal year after year to lose weight.  But as the years go by, we're noticing that every time weight loss occurs, the end result is a physique that looks different attempt to attempt. You may even think “I'm looking fatter than I did last time I was this weight.” But why?

(Watch the full replay for answers to this and other questions. Broadcast recap below video…) 

 

WEIGHT Loss Doesn't Equal FAT Loss

It's often assumed (*cough* ladies) that there’s no reason to have muscle — if we don’t want to be ripped, or look “manly.” (Really, ladies?…1990 called and wants it theories back).  We think that as long as we’re getting smaller, there's no point in lifting (read: gaining or preserving muscle mass).  While we may have been able to fool ourselves into believing this at 22, eventually we're faced with reality: muscle equals metabolism.  Having less of one, means lowering the other.  The more times we diet, the more muscle is lost, and fat is gained.  If the weight loss stints are really quick, we've just increased our odds.

The faster weight comes off, the more likely it is that we’re experiencing muscle loss and not just fat loss. The more yo-yoing our body does, the more weight we gain each time. This means we need to lose more weight each time, with more of the loss likely being from muscle mass. We start to notice that we look softer, and all that cardio we used to do, doesn’t “work” anymore.

Time to face the facts: Quick-fix diets will never “work.” The *temporary* WEIGHT LOSS primes you for FAT GAIN

Time to face the facts: Quick-fix diets will never “work.” The *temporary* WEIGHT LOSS primes you for FAT GAIN

Gaining fat isn’t a difficult job.  Our bodies are good at doing so without us even trying. (I doubt I just blew your mind, there, LOL.)  To gain muscle, however, we must put forth a conscious effort. While we may tend to think we have too much fat on our frames, the problem instead may be we just don’t have enough muscle.  Having too little muscle is like drilling for water in the desert, it's gonna take a heck of a lot more effort – which much less rewarding payoff.  Without a sufficient amount of muscle, our “weight loss” goals will never be sustainable for long.  This means that many of us ladies have to get over the fear of weightlifting, and thoughts about how gaining muscle will make us look like a bodybuilder (myth).

Do It Right, or Do It Over

When it comes to fat loss, programs and approaches that may have worked for you in the beginning aren’t necessarily going to work for you in the long run. This is why it's so important to remember to start small if you’re just getting into the swing of fat loss, healthy eating and resistance training.  There are many levels involved to getting to that peak level.  Trying to go straight to the highest level leaves you with little room for plateau adjustments (no trump card to pull!), and typically doesn't provide enough time to develop habits that stick.  So take the time to do it right, instead of constantly doing it over.  Always have another trick up your sleeve.  Pick one thing and nail it before you move onto something else. For example: incorporate more protein (from 90 grams to 120 grams, then 120 grams to 150 grams, etc) in your diet until you master it.

*Side note: Metabolism resets are key if you’re a yo-yo dieter or have been on a low-calorie diet for an extended period of time. It’s easy to get caught up in the scale weight, but the key is to think about the long term. Too much cardio and too little food will absolutely lead to muscle loss. Real progress takes time and requires a realistic perspective. If you/your clients want to get results, they’ve got to start weight lifting. Being skinny doesn’t equal results. Being strong and healthy does.

Cross section of thigh muscle, notice what happens to muscle/fat ratio over the years? Plan of attack must change with age. Preserving/building muscle is essential.

Cross section of thigh muscle, notice what happens to muscle/fat ratio over the years? Plan of attack must change with age. Preserving/building muscle is essential.

Arm Yourself for Sustainable Success

Ask somebody what their ideal end goal physique is and you’ll often hear “I just want to be skinny and not look like a bodybuilder.” By arming yourself with the proper information and knowledge, you can create a program that combines strength training and a proper diet (i.e. adequate protein intake).  Constantly working on those areas (knowledge, lifting, diet) will change your entire perspective on the body transformation process. Gathering information, like taking your own diet history into consideration, can be a very helpful in discovering if you are actually dealing with a muscle deficit. Using this information, you can learn how to train and eat for muscle. Eating around a maintenance level of calories (also known as TDEE) can often prove to be the best approach.

If weight loss were easy, everybody would be running around looking like fitness models. The reality of it is that there’s a science and method behind the madness. In order to create healthy, sustainable weight loss, you’ve got to target the fat mass and preserve/add to the muscle mass.

 

~Kiki

Burn Fat AND Build Muscle

Burn Fat AND Build Muscle

Burn fat and build muscle with this new ___________!!!

It's the promise we've been hearing for years (decades?) yet many of us are still (unsuccessfully!) chasing these elusive results we hear promoted in every magazine, website, and TV/Radio station known to man.  The advertising hype has us all wishing, hoping and searching high and low for this holy grail of diet and exercise where we accomplish two results in one fell swoop.

So…why isn't it happening for many of us?

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THinQuExnxQ

Topics discussed in the video:

*What we already know about multitasking – it doesn't work. Multi-tasking typically equates to doing more than one thing, inefficiently at best.

*Our metabolism is not built to (or efficient at) burning fat and building muscle at the same time. They require two completely different metabolic actions, and hormonal signals.

*Muscle building requires significant levels of insulin (a building hormone).

*Fat loss requires lowered insulin levels.

*When you strive to do both (while actually hoping for/focusing on weight loss), you end up burning through muscle stores rather than building them. This leads to the “skinny-fat” look.  On the flip side, hoping/focusing solely on muscle gain can lead to feeling “fat” or puffy. The key lies in finding balance between the two.

*Understand that you need muscle in order to have the toned, tight look — and you need to reduce fat in order to see the muscle. Ultimately the look that most are striving for requires individualized focus on accomplishing both.

Solution Options:

1) Cycle phases dedicated to each: Increasing cals (above TDEE) for muscle building phases, and lowering cals (below TDEE) for fat loss phases. This means that you do NOT look to see fat gains during your muscle phases, or muscle growth during fat loss phases. The results within each phase are fastest with this option, but you may experience mental/physical turmoil of “feeling fat” during muscle gain phases, or missing your muscle gains as you cut fat (many people underestimate how much muscle they have under their fat layers). The best way that I've found to do this is to work with your natural times of month/year that you tend to eat this way (most people naturally eat in a cyclic manner without realizing it).

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Body recomp can often feel like nothing is happening, because the changes are extremely slow and subtle. But if you put in the work, stay consistent, and take frequent pics, you will notice (like Melanie did!) how the changes compound ;)

2) Body recomp(osition): Eat at maintenance, utilizing a periodized workout plan, nailing your basic macronutrient goals. This is the the only safe way to multitask, and as stated before it's means that you are not looking for drastic changes in one way or the other.  This is a much slower process because you will essentially not see huge jumps in muscle gain OR fat loss at any one time. This can be a pro/con depending on your mentality and thought process.  If you are happy seemingly at a standstill for a few years — knowing mentally that you ARE making changes — then this is the best route for you.

Summary

Non-stop dieting for a “look” should NEVER be an option, as it will never achieve the results that you want long term.  Whether you choose to dive headfirst into fitness cycles, or take the slow and steady route – understand what your end goal is and accept that a lifestyle of perpetual dieting just won't get you there, no matter how amazing the results look at first.  With exception to newbie gains (which ultimately come to an end), metabolic multitasking is often severely over-touted and misunderstood.  Instead of spinning your wheels, eating and exercising in a way that will do neither process efficiently, take the time to understand how to match your eating and exercising to your workouts and take charge of your journey again.

Newbie Gains: Why Your Workout Isn’t Working Anymore {LIVE Broadcast}

Newbie Gains: Why Your Workout Isn’t Working Anymore {LIVE Broadcast}

Tracy

Long after the newbie gains had faded, Tracy realized that her low calorie, high cardio lifestyle would never give her the look she wanted. So she took action, moved on, and got the results she was after.

Your go-to “this always works” workout isn't working anymore? uh-oh. Say goodbye to newbie gains…

Newbie gains are what I like to call the “Teenager Phase” of Fat Loss.  This is a period of time, that you can pretty much “rebel” against the basic rules of fat loss, and quite possible still see results.  Put simply, in the beginning of your journey, you can literally do ANYTHING (even if it's the wrong thing) and still get “results.”  Because of this brief period, we can often be led astray and down a longggg path of rebellion.  We tend to shrug off recommendations of not making drastic changes that are unsustainable, or that certain styles of workouts are not the best choice for our goals.  We think “Hey, I'm getting results…I don't know what they're talking about!”

I recount my own embarrassing rebellious phase here. 

During the newbie phase, even the impossible…is possible. Muscles grow super fast, fat melts off, everyone notices all your hard work and praises you for it. You're pretty much floating on cloud nine, feeling invincible, and telling everyone that you know that you've found “the secret” to weight loss (pretty much associating that secret to whatever the random thing is that you're doing.)

Side note…Buyers Beware: I can't even begin to tell you how many weight loss books would remain on the shelves if we removed all those that were written strictly on the basis of one person's newbie gains results.  It's really not the author's fault though…the results are so addicting that they truly believe they've found the cure.

Back to the newbie gains process.  The first six months can be ridiculously blissful, the results are insane and you think that you will FINALLY have the body you've always wanted with just a bit more work.  Right around the six month mark, muscle gains/fat loss progress begins to slow down (though most of us are in the early stages of denial, and push harder).  By month 12, many find that they are actually regaining the fat that they lost in the first six months and any semblance of muscle begins to fade.  What do you do when you realize that your “free pass” has expired? What are the next steps?

If you've been getting phenomenal results for months, then suddenly notice your go-to workout isn't working like it used to…it may be time to follow the “rules” now.

Main points covered in today's broadcast:

~Newbie Gains: The Teenager Phase of Fat Loss

~How to identify when your newbie gains phase is over

~What works now will not work forever. Accept this, don't ignore it.

~Plateaus WILL come, don't get too comfortable/cocky and think that because you're seeing amazing results quickly, that the rules don't apply to you.

~Have a plan (even if tentative/flexible) for what to do at each plateau (again…they WILL come).

~There is no perfect plan.  Once newbie gains fade, your plan must include a variety of phases (discussed in the broadcast)

~True newbie gains may last 1-2 years for some, with the best progress happening after the first few months of acclimation/neural adaptation. When “results” seem to come for this long, many can become easily deceived/convinced that a certain style of working out is the only thing that “works” for them.  Avoid this extreme thinking, and move on when the time calls for it.

 

BOTTOM LINE: Newbie gains will stop.  Enjoy it while it lasts, but be prepared to execute plan B. 

 

 

Hope you enjoy the replay, Fam!

~Kiki

 

PS. Got questions? I'm on Periscope and Facebook M-F, to answer your FAQs. So make sure you're following @EM2WL and click “live subscribe” to get notifications the second I start the next broadcast!

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Top 10 Supplements for Building Muscle

Top 10 Supplements for Building Muscle

Apple Pie Quest Bar (baked) with Oikos Frozen Greek Yogurt

Apple Pie Quest Bar (baked) with Oikos Frozen Greek Yogurt

Whatever reason YOU started lifting (get stronger, build muscle, lose fat, etc), by now you're likely seeing supplements promoted left and right as “must-haves.”  While it may not be that serious, there's a time and place for everything, including supplementation.  Supps can complete a diet that is perhaps lacking in some departments (vitamins, minerals, etc.), give you more energy, recover faster, or simply give you an edge in your training.  Whether you take preworkout faithfully or are completely new to the world of supplements, there are general supps that can help anyone.  Let's review the top 10 supplements for building muscle, and make sure you get your money's worth at the local vitamin store.

Whey Protein– Great for recovery and repair of muscle tissue. You can get whey protein in the form of a powder or a bar, but it's best to consume in shake form to hit the blood stream fast. Chug a post-workout whey protein shake as soon as possible (30-60 min) after a workout.

Branched Chain Amino Acids – Also referred to as BCAA's, this supplement allows your body to workout longer, as it delays the time it takes to reach exhaustion. It also helps reduce the amount of damage done to the muscles, as well as increasing speed of recovery.  Sip BCAA's throughout your workout for best results.

Creatine – Our bodies naturally produce creatine, but supplementation can help further increase the effect and function. Use of creatine increases shorter bursts of energy and helps boost recovery between back-to-back exercises. Take creatine as part of a pre-workout drink.

Caffeine – Hands down the most common stimulant, caffeine helps delay the onset of fatigue, improves endurance and makes you feel more alert. Because of this, you may work very hard but don't realize how much you're exerting yourself, allowing you to work extra hard. Caffeine is best taken 1/2-1 hour before a workout.

Green Energy – Green energy, or green tea, can help enhance the muscle's ability to recover. Green energy also contains antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation and destroy free-radicals that cause harm to the body. If you are stimulant-sensitive, take green tea earlier in the day.

Nitrates – If you've ever experience a workout pump, that's largely due to your blood filling out your muscles as a result of them being worked. This is referred to as vascular response. Taking nitrates such as arginine, beet root extract and citrulline will help vasodilation and secretion of growth hormone. These ingredients are often found in pre-workout drinks.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – If you're looking to reduce the amount of damage the muscle tissue undergoes as a result of exercise, Omega-3's can help. DOMS, delayed-onset muscle soreness, has been shown to reduce when Omega-3's are regularly taken. Take some Omega-3's with your morning vitamins.

Carnitine – Much like Omega-3's, carnitine also helps reduce DOMS. Additionally, carnitine helps reduce inflammation and the amount and severity of muscle damage. Take carnitine before or after your workout to enhance muscle growth, performance and recovery.

Beta-Alanine – If you're wanting something to reduce the amount of fatigue you're feeling throughout your workouts, this may be the supplement for you. Beta-alanine also reduces muscle fatigue. This ingredient is often found in pre-workouts or can be added to one that doesn't contain it.

Ginger Root – Experiencing some level of pain after a workout kinda comes with the territory.  By taking ginger root, you can help reduce the amount of pain you experience in the 24-hour window after exercising. Inflammation reduction is a large part of how ginger root keeps muscle soreness at a minimum. It is best taken at interspersed intervals throughout the day.

In addition to following a structured, progressive workout routine, the use of supplements can help improve your performance and perhaps even help take it to the next level. While there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of supplements out there, it can make it very confusing to figure out which ones are best for you and worth the investment.  If you're an advanced lifter, looking to enhance performance in the gym, feed your muscles properly, and reduce the amount of damage/soreness you feel — you may want to give a few of these top ten supplements a try.

As with anything in life, some things work for some people but not for others.  Never feel obligated to take EVERY supplement listed.  Remember that supps are meant to supplement what you're doing in the gym (and the kitchen!), not replace it.  So make sure your eating and workouts are already on point before even concerning yourself with supplementation.  Then, add a supplement to see how it helps.

 

Happy Eating!

~Kiki :)

 

I Can’t Do Pull Ups! Mastering the Pull-up: Part 2

I Can’t Do Pull Ups! Mastering the Pull-up: Part 2

IMG_1169.PNGIn our last post, we discussed the the necessity and benefits of working your back muscles regularly, learning to do pull-ups, and why I'm just so in loveee with them as both a trainER and trainEE.

I hope I've convinced you to give this beloved exercise a shot. If nothing else for the confidence boost both inside (from knowing how dang strong you are!) and out (the upright “confident” posture courtesy of the lat muscles balancing out the over-worked anterior muscles). The super sexy back, and über cool points that it will get you with friends, family (especially the kids!) is just an awesome bonus. ;)

It doesn't matter if you've never been able to do a pull-up in your life, it's never too late to start training for it. I was the wimpy (and proud) girl in gym class that participated in ZERO fit tests for fear of looking silly to my classmates (mainly one particular, future-hubs-classmate, if we're being honest). I didn't learn to crank out pull-ups until well into my adult years.

Side note: because of my shame over my past pull-up transgressions, my homeschooled son has never been able to escape my militant pull-up training. At 17, he can “jump and give me 10” no matter how long it's been since he last officially “worked out.” (Just challenged him, pop-quiz style, yesterday because it had been about a year…”sooo how many pull-ups do you think you can do now?” He proceeded to crank out 15 with ease before tossing the smart aleck teenage smirk my way…whatevs).

Try hanging from the pull-up bar.

Jump up on a pull-up bar, or pull a step or dumbbell up to the pull-up bar and instead of jumping up, use a stool to boost you closer to the bar and release your feet to a hanging position once your arms are securely gripped. See how this feels. If this isn’t horrible, proceed to the next tip.  If you struggle with this task, see part one of this series, and work on exercises listed there, as well as the following for at least a month and then try bar hangs again:

*Work on your back strength. Use various back exercises such as lat pull-downs, single arm cable rows, one arm dumbbell rows, bent over rows, etc. to test your strength gains.

*Work on your grip/forearm strength. Do open finger dumbbell holds, farmer carries and plate pinches.

Remember that the strength rep range is about 5-6 reps or less. If your strength phase proves nonproductive (your numbers are stagnant for 2-4 weeks), move to an endurance phase and then try again after a few weeks.

Try (a variety of) assisted variations.

*Vertical pulls – hold on to any vertical surface (bar, pole, door frame, etc,) and pull your body “chest to bar.” This may seem like a basic move, but building the endurance here will benefit later. Often we skip the exercises that seem “too basic” only to discover that we don't have the base muscle strength/endurance to advance in the real move.

*Jackknife pulls or inverted rows – hold your feet out straight in front of you and lie under a bar, or chair. Pull your chest toward the bar, practicing both an over AND underhand grip position. Bend your knees as needed if you need to further modify this move.

*Move on to partner assisted pull-ups, not on a machine, but with the aid of a workout partner. Have your workout partner support your legs (bend legs at the knees) and help push your body weight up. You essentially need to take the majority of the weight yourself, but your partner can assist as needed and to the appropriate degree.

*No partner? Try band-assisted pull-ups. There is another variation of assisted pull-ups you can try that can be done without a workout partner and not on an assisted pull-up machine. This other variation involves using a thick resistance band. Hook the band around the top of pull-up bar/handles and let it hang. Hook your hands on the bar and bend your legs behind you, resting your knees in the band loop. It’s kind of strange to do these at first, as you feel like you have to really balance yourself, but you will catch on shortly.

Assisted Pull-up Machine

The assisted pull-up machine is a great tool if you don't have a partner. Just remember that the goal with this machine is to go *down* in weight over time — rather than up, like most machines. Using less of the machine weight means that you are pulling more of your bodyweight. ;)

Other assisted variations:

Chair Assist

Machine assisted 

Go negative. 
When you can do assisted variations with ease, start incorporating negative pull-ups. Negative pull-ups will develop your lat strength like no-other. They will teach you how to pull with your back (not your arms), and allow you to pull more of your own body weight each time. You can do either straight sets of negatives-only (3-4 sets of 1-6 negative reps), or incorporate them with your assisted pull-ups. Simply do as many assisted pull-ups as you can, then bang out another 2-3 negative reps. Or go up assisted, and come down negative with full body weight.

Tying it all together: Pull-up Progression Schedule

If you've done all of the above, and allowed yourself to patiently progress through various stages, you should be ready to crank it! But if you've gone to attempt a pull-up again and still feel ill-prepared, try the following pull-up progression from one of my fave bodyweight exercise books: Convict Conditioning.  It breaks down pretty much every bodyweight move and gives you awesome guidelines on how to progress from beginner modifications to the “elite” version of each (one arm push/pull-up, one-leg squat, etc).

Incorporate the following into your regular back workouts over the next few months.  Start at the beginning of each “level” – once you work your way up to the “progression” amount, move to the starting amount of the next level. Do NOT rush through the progressions, but rather allow your body to acclimate to each level, so that you have the strength and endurance of the muscles needed to pull your entire body weight, with zero assistance: (see the playlist below for demo of each “level”)

Vertical Pulls: Start with 1 set of 10, work your way up to 3 sets of 40

Horizontal Pulls: (inverted rows): Start with 1 set of 10, work your way up to 3 sets of 30

Jacknife Pullup: Start with 1 set of 10, work your way up to 3 sets of 20

Half Pullups: Start with 1 set of 8, work your way up to 2 sets of 15

Full Pullups: Start with 1 set of 5, work your way up to 2 sets of 10

Regardless of which level you're at in the process, continue to test and retest. Even if it seems like a shot in the dark, jump up ever-so-often, and give it a shot.  Can't do a full pull up? Can you bend your arms a bit more than last time? Eyeballs almost over the bar? Great! That's progress. Keep executing your steps and retesting. Take every new milestone as a sign that you're that much closer!

It should go without saying, but I figure I may as well address the elephant in the room.  FOOD.  If you're still afraid of getting your grub on, don't expect too much from your lifts.  Gaining strength requires sufficient fuel, and you will often notice the difference in your level of beastiness based on your intake (amount AND type). I won't go into much more detail, but just an FYI so you know where to look if you are doing “everything right” and still seem to be plateauing in your lifts — you simply may not be eating enough.

As with any progress, patience is key. Gaining strength and perfecting a new exercise, especially a difficult one, takes time. Focus on increasing your upper body strength and you will notice that other lifts will subsequently increase as well. As you become stronger in your journey towards perfecting a body weight pull-up, you’ll notice your lifts in general will take off in an upward trend. Before you know it, you’ll be showing up that guy that’s flailing around under the pull-up bar! And THAT moment…priceless. ;)

 

Now…you have a plan, go kill it!

~Kiki :)

I Can’t Do Pull Ups! Mastering the Pull-up: Part one

I Can’t Do Pull Ups! Mastering the Pull-up: Part one

Building MuscleWhat lift/exercise is the ultimate test of strength?

Depending on who you ask, you’ll likely hear different answers to the question. Most trainers (myself included) will agree on the basic beasty moves as gold standards of testing strength: bench, overhead press, barbell row,  squat and deadlift. But when I see someone (man OR woman) squatting, benching, rowing or deadlifting massive amounts of weight, then flailing like a fish out of water trying to pull-up their own body weight, it makes me wonder if the pull-up is the ultimate strength test exercise.  Not only do pull-ups require well-developed back strength, but they also require grip, forearm and core strength, too.

My clients know that I'm a stickler about tackling pull-ups, no matter how weak they feel they may be in their upper body. The guys may feel like it has nothing to do with the overall chest/abs/bicep physique they covet, while ladies tend to be afraid of getting a “wide” back (v-taper) for fear of looking too “manly.” Instead of bicep curling into oblivion, many men would be fairly impressed by the bicep development they would get from merely tossing a few sets of chin-ups into their arm routine. Ladies would do well to know that it's VERY hard to develop a v-taper without properly periodized nutrition and training for that precise purpose. Not to mention that developing one would actually give more women (especially pear shapes), a MORE feminine, hourglass shape. Whatever the case for not wanting to do pull-ups, the benefits of developing this skill go far beyond the physique changes.

Most women are inherently weaker in the upper body when compared to the lower, and in the back side of their body when compared to the front. We ladies tend to spend most of our lives in anterior or “forward” motion: we push strollers and shopping carts, nurture children in our wombs, hold babies, pick our toddlers up and down, type, text, have boobs, etc.  Essentially, we are always pushing, holding, handling weighted objects, or attending to general business on the front side of our bodies.

The repetitive motion of these movements causes the muscles at the front part of our bodies (pecs/anterior shoulders) to tighten (shoulder to shoulder across the boobs), and the muscles across the back (shoulder to shoulder across the upper back) to become lax from under-use. Going into the gym and regularly maxing out on your bench, with little attention to the back side of your body, can horribly exasperate the problem. This leads not only to increased shoulder pain, but also to a forward rounded shoulder (the dreaded “hunchback” look) as we age.  Exercises such as deadlift, row, and yes – pull-ups, that challenge your back from all angles is essential to a well rounded routine and an upright body that screams confidence!.

Put in pull up practice...everywhere!

Put in pull up practice…everywhere!

Pull-ups are NOT easy! 

Back in the day (can't believe I'm old enough to say that! LOL) pull-ups were part of our education. They weren't necessarily mandatory, but we were tested on them at least once/year and it was generally accepted that it was something that most boys should be able to do with ease.  Girls were often graded by how long they could “hang” on the bar.  With the more relaxed Physical Education requirements in recent years, it's not uncommon to see boys become men who can't even do one pull-up (my husband cringes at the sight of my nephews' attempts at pull ups).  If men are struggling with pull-ups, it’s no wonder us women tend to be, too.  Simply jumping up to a pull-up bar and hanging on for dear life can seem more taxing than it was in our youth, but learning to do body weight pull-ups isn’t impossible!

But it DOES take patience and persistence, which our generation seems to have lost…

The amount of time it takes to learn to do a pull-up will vary – depending on factors such as current fitness level, consistency, body weight, etc. Obviously, the more you weigh, the more you have to pull-up, and vice versa. But don't get tempted to use your weight as an excuse (“I can't do pull ups, I'm too heavy!” …”when I lose weight I'll learn” or “but they're so light, it's easy for them!!”), start practicing NOW.  Pulling your body weight is pulling your body weight… per capita, it's tough for everyone.  Take your time, be consistent, and build up your strength.  You CAN eventually do a full pull-up.

Then 2…4…10 and so on!

Ready to dive in?

Let's talk equipment.

Simply hanging from the bar is the first step!

Simply hanging from the bar is the first and hardest step!

If you have a membership at your local gym, they should have you covered (in which case, feel free to scan/speed read through this next bit).

If pullups aren't currently a part of your routine, you may not have an actual pull-up bar, or even access to one.  I highly recommend ultimately investing in a pullup bar like the iron gym or similar apparatus (they're fairly cheap), if you plan on working out at home exclusively.  I'm a home exerciser myself, and my bar is worth it's weight in gold!

But until then, enjoy homemade versions, and the great outdoors… always keep your eye out for pullup “bars” hidden in plain sight to work on perfecting your craft ;)

Some places you can practice your pull up skillz:

  • monkey bars
  • stairs with no riser (like in outdoor apartment buildings)
  • under chairs/tables

Beginner Pull up Prep

The biggest mistake that most newbies make with pull ups is simply walking up to the bar, attempting a pull up, and walking away discouraged.  No one can/should expect to dive right in to doing pull ups without first having a base strength/endurance levels. If you currently can't even hang on the bar for an extended period of time, do NOT attempt pull ups just yet.

Here are a few exercises that you can start doing now to build up the lat strength to be able to do a pullup:

  • Dips (best if they are done on parallel bars or positioned between two chairs in this manner, to fully involve the lats)
  • Elbow Presses (on a wall, or on the floor with elbows in at your side for more challenge)
  • Vertical pulls (use any bar or wall alternating hands at different angles)

Once you have sufficient strength to perform those exercises, you should be able to move into a basic pullup progression.

Whatever your starting point, just start. Take on the challenge! If you're completely lost for where to start, there are a few steps you can take and exercises you can add into your weightlifting routine to get one step closer to being a pull-up princess.  In the next part of this series, we'll go over a few tips on how to bang out that first pull-up.

 

Until then…

~Kiki :)

 

 

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Should you just do cardio to lose weight? How heavy is heavy lifting? Do "strength" DVDs count? What if you don't want to lift? Sign up now for in-depth info on strength training and fat loss.  You'll also receive special vids and free workout plans to help you get the most from your time in the gym.

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