Weaknesses. We all have them.
Whether it is life or in the gym, weaknesses will come up and at some point you must face them. Its like the pull up test in school… it was no doubt i`d give it my best shot, but i would miserably fail. Every. Single. Year. *Sigh*
All the gymnastic girls could do like 20 in a row without even showing an inch of struggle. Myself on the other hand, would attempt this shrug-like movement that ended up in defeat and the unavoidable big, fat ZERO on my assessment sheet.
Why could I not do a pull up?! Was I not strong enough?! Was I just skipped over when God was handing out the “Pull up Genes?”
Of course not.
My solution was simple. What I needed was practice.
It wasn`t until college that I learned how to do my first pull up. I started with negatives (jumping up so that the chin is above the bar, then slowly lowering yourself down) and slowly progressed to doing assisted pull ups with a heavy resistance band. I would do 3 or 4 sets till failure. Once I could do 12-15 pull ups with that band, I would go down to the next heaviest band. This repeated itself until I could finally get 10 pull ups with the smallest, least resistance band Brockport had. From there, I tried my first pull up. The first pull ups was followed by not one, not two, not three, but FOUR MORE PULL UPS.
Now don`t get it twisted. Getting 5 pull ups didn’t take me a couple months. In fact, it took me three whole years.
Not everyone will struggle with their weaknesses like I did and for as long. And some people`s weaknesses may require longer, depending on the weakness. Regardless of what your weakness(es) may be, the key to note here is DISCIPLINED PRACTICE.
You must earn your mastery.
This might include:
1. Training the weak area daily or every other day in some way
Rome wasn`t built in a day. And either were my pull ups. Every other day I would drag out my band of choice and make sure my chin touched that bar until I was exhausted or I would do some type of lat pulldown or row to build up my back strength. The weeks that I would slack off would return in a week from heck when I finally returned to the bar. Make it a habit.
2. Exercise Selection to compliment weakness
This is one that most people get tripped up on. You do not have to perform the same exercise in order to reap the benefits. As mentioned before, I used rows and lat pulldowns to help with my pull ups. These lifts help strengthen my primary movers, secondary movers and my stabilizer muscles that aid in the performance of a pull ups. So for me, training my Latisimus dorsi, Teres major, my rhomboids and Rear Deltoids were essential.
3. Change your stimulus and program regularly
At some point, repeating the same exercises, the same way, in the same order will result in a plateau. This is normal, but can be avoided through proper programming. This can be done by changing the stimulus (i.e. changing the band every 2-3 weeks), changing the exercise (i.e. doing lat pulldowns for 2-3 weeks, then switching to T-bar rows or seated wide grip rows the following 2-3 weeks, etc), or by changing the order/ sets and reps in which you complete the exercises. Try pull ups at the beginning of the workout when you’re fresh, or try doing them at the end when you`re fatigued. You can even play around with your rep scheme. Try pyramiding it (10 reps, 9 reps, 8,7….1, 2, 3….10 you get the point), maybe high sets and low reps to increase strength or low sets and high reps to work endurance. If its different, try it. Bottom line.
4. Set short term and long term goals
As for me, my short term goal was 1 pull up, and my long term goal was 5. Now that I haven’t been training for over 5 years, my short term goal is 10, while my long term goal is 15. Set attainable goals for yourself to keep you working hard and gaining confidence, but also set long term goals to keep you humble and constantly working at mastering the task.
5. Never. Stop. Working.
It is so easy to stop working at an exercise once you`ve reached your goal. Its like all this hype for this one thing, and then boom. Its over. Hype gone. But it doesn`t have to be that way. That type of attitude goes in the complacency bin over there in the corner. And yes i am referring to the garbage. That mindset deserves the trash bin because it will bleed into your other facets of life and make you lazy. Seek after your passion and goals unceasingly. It will not only make you a better lifter, but a better athlete, a better mom or dad, a better student, a better citizen…and the list goes on and on.
Point blank- No one will do the work for you- and that will forever stand true. And this is in all things of life. Find yourself constantly complaining about something or someone? Maybe you want to do a regular pushup on your toes, or deadlift 300 pounds, or you want a nicer house or a better job?
THEN GO OUT THERE AND GET SOME.
Work for it. Continually perform disciplined practice at making yourself better. The only person that says ” I can`t,” is YOU.