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I, Clausewitz : A Would-be Conqueror's Diary
Neither holy nor Roman nor an Emperor
Does anybody have suggestions on ways of improving my upper-body… 
23rd-Nov-2011 06:56 pm
medieval merchant
Does anybody have suggestions on ways of improving my upper-body strength for a pull-up test? Right now my record is a bit uneven, since on my best day I may be able to do three consecutive pull-ups while on a bad day I can barely manage one--whereas I'd like to be able to consistently do five, and preferably after a reasonably short timeframe (is three months realistic?) If I can get there it'd probably go a long way towards addressing the imbalance between my upper body and its rather more well-developed counterpart below the waist.

Anyway, it seems like I've been creeping my way steadily towards my fitness goals. When I read that the US Marine fitness test calls for a three-mile run in 28 minutes, I thought that'd be a pretty difficult standard to match since I was used to thinking that I ran a lap on the athletic track (400 m) in three minutes and thus it'd take me 36 minutes to do 4.8 km (12 laps). But then I recorded the time I needed to run the first 12 out of the 25 laps (10 km) I do every weekend and got 31 minutes--only 3 minutes slower than the Marines' standard. It shouldn't have surprised me considering how much I had improved my speed and endurance within the last few months, but still it's pretty encouraging to know that I only have one-thirds of the ground left to cover.
23rd-Nov-2011 04:01 pm (UTC)
In our gym at work, there's a pull-up machine that enables you to take some weight off your body as you do the pull-ups. If you can find something like that, you can counterbalance as much weight as you need to be able to handle five reps easy. Then you back off the weight a bit at a time until it's just about a struggle. Repeat daily until you can take more and more weight off and then you are up to what you need. That is, if you can find a gym with that kind of equipment.
23rd-Nov-2011 05:27 pm (UTC)
There's a gym right next to the athletics track. I've never been in it, though, since somehow I've always been more attracted to the outdoor facilities along the edges of the track. Maybe I should try going inside once in a while.
23rd-Nov-2011 05:46 pm (UTC)
The Armstrong program works really well. 5 pull-ups in three months is absolutely reasonable-- I got to 12 in a little less than that, starting from scratch at 2. I'm currently an officer candidate of the Marines myself, if you have any other questions regarding physical training I'd be happy to help.
25th-Nov-2011 07:29 am (UTC)
Hmm. I'd like to try that one--but it's probably going to be a while (something like a month or two) before I'll have the luxury of being able to visit the pull-up bar daily, so I wonder if there's some way to prepare for it during the (hopefully short) period when I'm still going to be confined to exercising on weekends (except for the push-ups, of course--I can do them at home). Would it be any good to do just the first two days each week for the time being?
25th-Nov-2011 05:15 pm (UTC)
Yep. You won't get there as fast as the program estimates but you will still get to 5 or more easily, if you're consistent about the push-ups on the days between. I was in the same boat as you, only had the pull-up bar in the park a few blocks over (or the door frame if I was feeling spunky) so could only do them 2-3 times a week until I got a door gym. Worked out fine. Might want to think about switching up the types of push-ups, too, work all the different muscle groups that you'll need for pull-ups.
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