The Chin-Up Challenge

The Challenge: Do 10 Chin Ups Within 94 Days

The Rules: I can do whatever I want… but by the end of the 94th day, I have to do 10 proper chin ups with no cheats and no assistance.

The Iffy Stuff: Nothing. I can prepare however I see fit.

The Exceptions: none


The Background: I consider the chin up to be the ultimate fitness test. There are many other more extreme things out there – marathons, ironmans, etc – but for a simple act of sheer strength, it’s the chin up. So naturally, when I learned that only 5% of people can do them, it felt like I was hearing a direct challenge. There are more stats on women and chin ups that are a bit disheartening and seem to perpetuate the idea that women really aren’t physically as capable as men when it comes to acts of strength. So even though I consider myself quite the fitness underdog, I can’t just walk away from this one because now there’s something to prove. Game on.

The Journey: This challenge was different for me in that it required daily failure on the way to hopefully obtaining success at the end. Many of my challenges are about will power, not physical power and so this one was mentally hard even though the challenge was about physical strength. It is hard to be weak every day, even though you know you are getting stronger, and to keep on going. Every day I felt like I wasn’t doing good enough, and as the outcome shows, I wasn’t, but it was easy to lose sight of the fact that I was doing better than the day before and that is what matters the most. To keep on getting better even if you aren’t anywhere close to where you want to be because if you can keep getting better, no matter how long it takes, or how slow or frustrating it is, then you will eventually get there. You will get to where you want to be as long as you don’t give up.

Putting a time limit on my challenges is a format I won’t deviate from for the sake of Exit Sideways, but it was a hindrance to this particular challenge because I could see the deadline coming and could see that I wasn’t close. For anyone who wants to take on something like this challenge, don’t put a time limit on yourself. It might help keep you working and give you a bit of a goal, but it will also give you a reason to quit when you get there and you still aren’t successful. It will keep you looking at a particular date rather than focusing on the task at hand.

Overall, this challenge was difficult in many ways and I had many obstacles to overcome, which I ultimately didn’t. I did learn that weight lifting isn’t as scary as I thought before and I did become stronger than I was previously.

Outcome: Failure.

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