On exercise goals

Tank Green/ August 12, 2023/ Health

I don’t normally have specific exercise goals. I just have a commitment to exercise 3 to 4 times per week, to get stronger, and to generally support healthy aging. Actually, I suppose they are exercise goals! What I mean is, I don’t normally have a defined thing that I want to achieve like wanting to run x distance in under x minutes, or wanting to do x lift at x weight. I just kind of keep at whatever type of exercise I’m doing at the moment, and then switch up when I get bored.

This year was different. This year I wanted to get one pull-up. I have not been able to do pull-ups since I dislocated my shoulder in my mid-twenties. I have sporadically tried to get a pull-up for the last decade, but I never seemed to get close to achieving it. So I would give up after a while and do other strength training that felt less ego bruising.

However, I was determined this year was going to be different. I turned 48 this year and I felt like if I didn’t knuckle down and achieve this goal this year, I probably never would. And I had to get a pull-up!

To ensure I didn’t lose focus (read: give up), I cancelled my gym membership at the beginning of the year so I was left with my (crappy) over door pull up bar, parallettes, faux-TRX straps, an ab roller, and 4 different kettlebells at home. I also have access to a really good set of bars in a local park thanks to the fabulous charity Steel Warriors.

I started off in January being able to do 3 sets of 5 negatives. That was it. And it was tough! But I kept at it until I could do 3 sets of 8 negatives. By the time it was warm enough to go exercise in the park, I was doing band assisted pull ups, first with the purple band. Once I got to 3 sets of 10 of those, I moved onto to the red band. I seemed to get stuck at about 3 sets of 5 with the red band for ages. It was frustrating.

Then at some point during my carnivore experiment, I realised that I could do a pull-up unassisted from standing. By which I mean, if I was stood under a bar I could reach standing up, I could pull myself up and lower myself down for one rep. Woohoo! I would do 3 sets of 5 individual pull-ups from standing for a while. But again, I got stuck at 3 sets of 8. It seemed to be an impossibility that I would ever be able to connect the muscular dots to be able to pull myself back up again from the hang at the bottom.

Then one day, as I lowered myself down from the first pull-up, I realised I had it in me to pull back up again. HURRAH! I’m kind of annoyed that I didn’t mark the date in my calendar, but it must have been in June. I immediately shifted my goal to 5 chin ups by September.

Here’s me the other day. ?

My form may not be the best, but I’m fucking doing it and I am certain I will meet my September goal of 5 now. I feel really proud of myself, and it shows that you are never too old to have a go. I prove  that if you eat right and be consistent, stubborn, and determined in your training, you can be a motherfucking legend. ?

Given that I feel confident that I will reach my September goal, I decided to add in a new goal of getting better at the monkey bars. Just look at this girl go! Her backwards travel along the bars at the end of the video is pretty inspiring!

I have also watched a bunch of Rikki Walden videos for inspiration. He’s really good at the monkey bars. I could already do the two hands on one bar way of travelling, but now I can also do one hand per bar and the sideways travel. I tried that ‘new technique challenge’ shown at the end of the linked  video too! It nearly ended in catastrophe after about 7 rungs, but it’s a start. Worst thing about the monkey bars is that they really pinch your callouses. It hurts. ?

Anyway, OLDER FEMALES!!! I’m talking to you! I don’t want to hear any excuses about being too old to do this or that exercise. If I can do it, you can! Hard work, consistency, and determination may not get you far in life, but it will get you five pull-ups in nine months. ?

Monday 14th August Update:

SMASHED IT! 3 sets x 5 reps this afternoon. EASY! Shifting my goal 3 x 7 reps by end of September now. ?