Got Pull Ups?

Pull ups have been considered a standard for measuring strength and human performance for decades. It is an element which is included to assess our military soldiers in the PFT (Physical Fitness Test), the Presidential Physical Fitness Award and the Youth Fitness Test Norms.

Most men I talk to reminisce about the “good ole days” when they were a buck fifty or less and could knock out pull ups like they were nothing. Asking most 30 or 40 something’s nowadays how many pull ups they can do usually elicits a chuckle followed by flash back to their youth when they could do them. Most men I meet think it would be cool to be able to do pull ups again…to be able to reclaim something in their human movement tool box that has been rusted shut.

Fitness programs like MoveNat thrive on this idea of reclaiming human movement patterns that you were born with but over time have lost. Pull ups are a big part of this program as they seek to incorporate fundamental movements while building capacity for strength and conditioning.

While training as a CrossFit instructor I have seen athletes (in their 30’s and 40’s) go from being unable to pull themselves up more than a couple inches to doing sets of pull ups with full range of motion during workouts in which they are being taxed in various other modalities simultaneously. There aren’t any supplements to take or secrets to share to get to this level other than the dirty four letter word…work.

There are different ways to approach building the strength and capacity to pull your body weight to chin level or higher over a bar. Beginning with shoulder mobility, folks should go through drills to help loosen tightness in order to get their joints moving in their full range of motion. Body Rows, which are completed by pulling yourself up to a bar or rings is a great first step in building the prerequisite strength to perform a pull up. Watching my two year old run around the house provides evidence of how to perform this movement on almost any object he sees…always beginning with the phrase “Daddy, watch this”.

Got Christ?

In the same vein, pull ups draw a similar response in men who are asked about their faith. They usually conjure up memories of being an alter boy or going through catechism, but the resounding answer is that those days are long gone…and mostly forgotten. They may have fond memories (or not) of their youthful desire to know God, but distraction, the pull of the world and sin have all but snuffed out those inclinations. I would argue that faith in God of every man, although often tarnished and forgotten, is a normal human movement pattern. Much like pull ups, faith in God should and can be reclaimed.

Developing a pull up requires incremental and intentional work by the athlete. He must go through a process to develop the prerequisite strength and movement patterns in order to complete a pull up. It is something that we are made to do but it requires a daily decision to stick with the process and work at it. Similarly, growing in faith requires a daily decision and the knowledge that we were made for Him.

So…how many pull ups can you do? Where are you on the road to becoming a Saint?

“Put on the Armor of God” (Eph 6:11)