At the start of this week, I could not do a single (proper) push-up, or a pull-up from a dead hang. Now, I can do both. During my lunch break today I was finally able to do 10 consecutive push-ups. My arms and back muscles were trembling on that last one, but I was able to push through and finish before collapsing onto my yoga mat. And after work I went by the park and was able to do 3 consecutive pull-ups from a dead hang.
Pull-ups are still incredibly hard, and painful for me, but the more that I practice and try doing them, the easier they get (even if only by a little bit). A big challenge for me was overcoming the thought that I just can’t do pull-ups. Getting over that, is really what has made doing pull-ups, or at least trying to do them easier.
As my friend recommended, repetition was key. Everyday I practiced each exercise for at least 20 minutes, usually doing two sets of each during the day. Practicing push-ups was easier because no real equipment was needed. For pull-ups I was able to find a door frame at home with a wide enough frame to get a grip on, but it was still more challenging than using the pull-up bar at the park, probably because I could not fully wrap my hands around the door frame and engage my thumbs like on the bar.
Sometimes, when my muscles would start to twitch and give out on me during my push-up exercises, I would change things up a bit and transition from a regular push-up to a downward facing dog yoga pose. I found that this helped to relieve some of the pressure between my shoulder blades, without totally disengaging my core and those muscles, and thus, allowed me to continue working on push-ups longer. Unfortunately, I could not find any stretch to smoothly transition to from a pull-up. Letting go of the bar in order to stretch really shifted my momentum, and I found it hard to jump back into the exercises after a stretch. I’m sure that will change as my strength improves, but for now I will focus on staying on the bar for as long as possible before letting go. If anyone has any recommendations for transitional, or resting exercises for between sets of pull-ups I would much appreciate them.
Swimming at least every other day, really helped as well. While swimming laps, I focused on having proper form, and maintaining a slow and steady pace in order to engage my muscles with minimal impact. I think that it also helped to keep everything aligned and my core relaxed. Thirty minutes to an hour after swimming is when I usually felt best to practice push-ups or pull-ups, and found that my muscles didn’t tire as quickly.
Overall, I am pretty pleased with this week. It would have been nice to see improvement with my pull-ups as fast as I did with push-ups, but I just need to be patient with it, and recognize how much my ability has improved this week. I have definitely noticed an improvement in my energy level by squeezing in a few short workouts to my daily routine. I think I will change things up a bit from just push-ups and pull-ups, but will try to keep with this new exercise routine.