When I chose the headline for this article I immediately pictured a bunch of moms with toddlers eagerly reaching for the newspaper, assuming the word “pull up” was referring to the best diaper in the world. Sorry moms, that’s not the direction I’m going with this article.
The pull up I’m talking about is that exercise that makes most normal people cringe. Unless of course you are one of those crazy people who enjoys the challenge of lifting your entire body weight with your two little arms over a tiny bar. And just to be clear, I am not one those crazy people.
This week, at Sierra High School, I noticed two clean cut Marines setting up a table with lanyards, shirts, pens and information packets in the quad right before lunch. I assumed they would be passing out information to students who may want to consider the military for a career upon graduation. But then I noticed something else. Right next to their table was a rack of some sort. At first I thought it was a portable coat hanger that the Marines might hang uniforms on for display. My curiosity got the best me and so I asked what it was all about. It turns out it wasn’t a portable hanger but instead a portable pull up bar for the students to try.
My first thought was, “oh the poor Marines are going to be standing here during lunch by themselves because no-one is going to want to do pull ups.” I wrong.
As soon as the lunch bell rang, a large cluster of students immediately began to form by the pull up bar. I watched from a distance as the Marines explained to students the proper technique of grabbing the bar with an overhand grip, holding hands slightly wider than shoulder with apart and how to pull themselves up.
Watching the students use all their strength to pull themselves up properly was inspiring. And I admit, if there had been a step stool I could have used to reach the bar, I just might have been tempted to give it a shot.
As I watched the Marines working with the students I wondered, what the big deal is with pull ups anyway? With a little research I found my answer. Doing regular pull ups:
Develops a Strong Back
Between the Internet, video games and TV, we all do a lot sitting which can weak our back. Pull ups work the back and core muscles which keep our middle strong and that’s something we don’t always think about, until we have to.
We all know we are not supposed to slouch, but we all do and at times we are achy for it. Strengthening our core and back naturally improves posture.
Improves Your Grip
When doing pull ups, you have to use your grip to get yourself anywhere near the bar. Though it may be tough at first, the continual practice helps increase your grip strength.
Increases Functional Strength
Because pull ups involve using most all of your upper-body muscle, this one exercise helps to increase overall functional strength needed for our daily activities.
Creates a Toned
If you keep with it, one great benefit to pull ups is the defined “V” shape and toned physique that develops from working your core muscles.
Seeing how the Marines encouraged the students to use their strength and pull themselves up in addition to researching the powerful benefits behind the exercise, causes me to think that pull up people aren’t crazy people after all. And perhaps if I can recruit those Marines to push me up by my feet to reach the bar, I can give pull ups a try.