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How many of you can do pull-ups effectively and how many you can do in a go? If not a minimum 10, why?

I asked this question to my #fitsians, the KaysFIT Academy members and also to a few running buddies.  Out of 15 people responded, except for 1 person, everyone said they either hate pull ups or can do < 5 count if they attempt.

Vannia Perumal, #fitsian from the KaysFIT Academy says jokingly “Basement strong, building weak”

Isn’t this interesting?

The problem with ageing

As we grow older we tend to lose our muscle mass gradually due to declining metabolism.

Testosterone levels generally peak during adolescence and early adulthood. As you get older, your testosterone level gradually declines — typically about 1 percent a year after age 30 or 40. It is important to determine in older men if a low testosterone level is simply due to the decline of normal aging or if it is due to a disease (hypogonadism) (reference here)

The solution is to continuously to engage in resistance training to maintain or build the muscle volume.

The problem with runners

Don’t you agree with me? if you are a runner, in general you are excellent when it comes to walking, running, doing squats, lunging or even doing a 3 minute plank. 

Many runners build leg strength by performing squats and lunges, twice or thrice a week, through body weight or even lifting weights in the gym.  I’m not an exception either and this idea of strength training has changed over time.

It is a known fact that those who are interested in the endurance sports like running and cycling do very badly when comes to pushing/pulling or doing well in the rotational movements. 

You may be an exception if you enjoy playing some contact sports which involves lots of pushing, racquet sports which demands you to be agile, quick and strong in all the plane of movements, or if you hit hit the gym frequently end specifically enjoy targeted workouts to focus on complex movements.

Holistic strength training - 4 primary movements

In general any fitness training must have a focus on enhancing the following primary movements,

  1. Squatting (bending) and lifting
  2. Walking and lunging
  3. Pushing & pulling
  4. all rotational movements
A lot of functional training are available these days to mirror these every day movements (refer here). BTSL is another acronym used to refer to Bend, Twist, Squat and Lunge

Will you jump in, it if I say you can run faster?

A strong upper body is directly related to running performance.

  • Stronger arms are related to faster sprint time, leading to better HIIT training cycles, leading to better cardiovascular strength
  • The arm swing influences your running performance
  • Well developed abs & chest muscles can absorb more running shocks and keep you away from running induced injuries
  • A stronger shoulder and back is key for your running form, to stabilize your body, and help you hold your form for multiple hours before you start to droop your shoulder and lose the running form

Reference: runtastic 

My hate with pulling and pushing

I always considered doing pull ups or push ups to be very challenging bodyweight exercises and I always hated them since I wasn’t able to do them. 

I’m always ready to go even in the middle of the night if you wake me and asks me to run.  I bet I would do the same if you are ready to challenge me to play 10 back to back competitive badminton. 

On the other hand, I always stayed away from hanging on a monkey bar or even signing up pull up challenges.  As a coach I would demonstrate the proper pull up or a push up method, but never included them as part of my training routines.

The benefits of the pull / push strength

Pullups or chinups help improve grip strength, postural alignment and appearance too. The more I read I now realize pull ups also help in strengthen muscles and stabilize the spine reducing the risk of back pain and injury.  

If the benefits are proven, why not have them part of my training routine?  Well, I somehow stayed away from them.

Knee injury vs improved strength

You may wonder how a knee injury helped me appreciate the importance of push and pull strengths.    I was found to have a torn meniscus back in September and I had to undergo an arthroscopic surgery in November.  This was a huge set back for me in achieving my running ambitions and I had to cancel all my key marathon and ultramarathon races (including a repeat 100 miler at The Border) planned for last year.

After one month of rest and rehab, in December I decided to focus on best utilizing my recovery months and fall in love with strength training routines.  After a lot of drag, I’m now able to focus hitting the gym and doing more weights.  I’m very happy to say I’ve seen a significant progress.

I would like to give one more month to see some more progress with my self-created pushing and pulling challenges.  

I’ve been doing these uncomfortable exercises and I should say I have already started feeling very comfortable.  The initial days were harder and I hated myself for committing to a “daily” completion goals.  But I should say, after a month, I no longer hate them and those weekly once random workouts have become 3-4 times a week exercises.

Stay tuned, I’ll be updating this post with more specific details about my strength capabilities and how I have been building them soon.

References: www.acefitness.org

Excited to build your pull/push strength?

If you are a runner and you have conveniently avoided your push/pull strength routines, then there is a challenge for you.

Write the number of pull up and push up reps that you can today in the comments section and I want you to come back after 3 months and update me the status.  

Give yourself some time to master the correct techniques.  Understand the baby steps involved in doing these exercises properly and make it a every day habit to hand or do push ups, gradually increase the hang time and push up counts.    Please remember if you have shoulder issues or injuries you must address them before attempting any such exercises.  Always remember to fix the Stability and mobility (Range of Motion) issues, correct techniques, before loading the muscles.  Consult a physio who can do a proper FMS (Functional Movement Screening) and a doctor if you have been having some chronic issues.

The benefits are proven and huge and, join me in making this a enjoyable workout like running.  Wouldn’t it be great if you develop a broader shoulder, more defined looks with erect spine and stronger muscles? 

To continue…


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