Chin-up Challenge Workout 19: All Sorts of Hurt

The first exercise today was the chin up. As in, no assistance – just your straight up, chin-over-bar exercise. From there, I was to do as many as possible and then do assisted chin ups once I failed. I haven’t tried to do a real chin up in a while because I know it’s not going to look pretty and it’s a bit of the ‘ignorance is bliss’ syndrome, but today I had to do it. It was written in the stars.

I did everything right.

I bypassed those amped up pop songs and let the hardcore rock songs stay silent. I went for the motivational speech. It’s one of those things that make you feel powerful when you listen and you really believe that whatever is holding you back doesn’t have a chance.

Today is your day.

This is your time.

Take a listen, it’s worth it: Mindshift Motivational Video (The video itself is fairly typically cheesy, but the audio is what gets me going.)

I started stretching with the words sliding over the air and setting up camp right in my very core. I even put on gloves for better grip. I paused before reaching for the bar, envisioning my muscles going through the motions. And then I started to lift.


As in I have maybe gained a centimeter or two, maybe even an inch of distance since the beginning of this challenge. I can’t blame the motivational speech – that was spot on. The chin up really is a mark of physical strength. There’s just no way to cheat it. When you’re doing cardio, you can run slower; when you lift weights, you can sacrifice form. With the chin up, you just do it or you don’t. There is no gray area, no sort of, no excuses.

So, needless to say, I went straight to the assisted chin up from there. I also had my second run-in with the devil’s trifecta: front raise, lateral raise, rear delt raise – no breaks. Individually, these exercises are A-OK, but one after another is a rough go, particularly with my weak left elbow. Now, I also had a sporting commitment in the evening so my workout was followed up with a grueling season opener broomball match. Grueling in that my team only had one sub… And this was my third sporting event of the week. So, If I were to add on to Tuesday’s soreness diagrams…. it would look something like this:

stick all pain_edited-1

Today’s Workout

  1. Chin ups (do assisted once you fail)
  2. Deadlift
  3. Bent over row
  4. Assisted chin ups
  5. Crunches
  6. Stability ball plank
  7. Dumbbell squat
  8. Reverse lunge
  9. Chest press
  10. Front raise
  11. Lateral raise
  12. Rear delt raise

Chin-up Challenge Workout 12: A Begrudging Truth

Welp. I take back what I said about Workout 11. Not all of it, just one teensy, tiny, little bit – which just so happens to be the only measure of progress I had that day.

Today I did not do any assisted pull ups that were actually what they were supposed to look and feel like. No four count descent for this gal right here. I’m back to the I-just-leapt-from-an-airplane-without-a-parachute plummet. At least the floor isn’t 30, 000 feet below… not that I let go of the bar or anything.

Now, it’s time for honesty here. I jumped the gun and I jumped the gun hard in the most overzealous manner. Every time I pump the iron, (Yup, just said pumping the iron. Sounds cheesy out loud; looks just as bad written out.) with each repetition it’s like there are whispers in my ear as the weight passes by:

“Never going to happen.”






“Put me down.”

(This last one is not so much whispered but shrieked like a cat screech when you’re just picking them up to show them some love and though they’re purring like a motorboat at high noon they’re also screaming bloody murder just because they’re cats and that’s what cats do.)

But. Those personified weights are kinda right. I didn’t really have a good reason for choosing 10 as the number of chin-ups I would do. What started it all was that I read somewhere that most people can’t do pull-ups or chin-ups. It never said how many is the line between able and not able, so of course now it is just mayhem: Is it ten? That’s such a nice, round number. The perfect 10. Oh, but wait – it is 12? An even dozen? What about a baker’s dozen? Maybe it’s only 5, but that’s an odd number so it must be 4. Right? It can’t be one, because there was an “s” on the end, implying more than one….

So. Two?

That darned internet has stuck again, pumping out useless, uncorroborated nuggets of information that may or may not have whatever degree of fact to 99406a26ee17f9c358deab0c8a757cbdc6b60199554bce28fe389b41e5a6324fthem. And I have to admit it: I fell for it. Hook, line and sinker.

None of this really matters, just that in my long drawn out, roundabout way I’m saying that while my challenge is to do 10, personally I just want to be able to do 1 (and I maybe, sort of, begrudgingly am admitting that I maybe shouldn’t have chosen ten as the magic number. Emphasis on the maybe… both of them. When I stumble on a a challenge I get excited to jump right in without doing due diligence. Lesson learned. )

Even as I write that out, it really lacks the pizzazz, you know. One chin up. Basically three months to prepare. Sound ridiculous. Like, come on, of course that’s possible. Right? And ten sounds way better… a real challenge!

Ohh boy, look at me – falling into that trap again. And yet, here I am, no closer to ten than I am to one and I only have about a month and a half left.

Today’s Workout

  1. Stick ups
  2. Scapular retractions
  3. Assisted weighted pull ups (5 lb extra)
  4. Inverted row
  5. Dumbbell row
  6. Push ups
  7. Planks
  8. Chest press
  9. Dumbbell shoulder press
  10. Dumbbell squats
  11. Stability ball curls
  12. Sit-ups

Chin-Up Challenge Day 11: The Glimmer of Progress

I grab the handles and prepare to step off the chair to do an assisted pull-up. I take a deep breath and silently encourage my arms. I take the step. And holy hallelujah! I actually don’t plummet straight to the ground. There is resistance! Sweet, glorious, tiny-little-bit of resistance more formally known as… controlled descent.


Out of the 40 attempts, a solid 10 of them felt like I could categorize them as controlled. Well, it might be more accurate to say semi-controlled because it was still a quick trip down. That’s some lowlife underdog maybe-a-come-from-behind-victory-just-might-maybe-possibly-could-happen-maybe action right there. I mean that’s only 25%… not quite a passing grade but this isn’t a school kid’s paper going through some red inked grading.

Right now, any progress deserves a small celebration. You see, each work out is this straight up battle where I’m the leader of the battalion yelling at the soldiers not to give up: you’re better than this! You can do it! Do not give up! Why are you trembling?! You pathetic son of a …..

I have some weak soldiers signed up for duty so when they get a little stronger, do a little better I get pretty pumped about it.

Now, the great thing about today was I finally got some tunage going on as well. Everybody has their work out or pump up jams and so far that has been missing from my routine. We all label them corny-like, you know, with names like Gym Rat Jams or Rocky Balboa or Gettin’ Buff or Party Time. I call mine Adrenaline so I fit right in. It starts perfectly with intro by xx then explodes into a mishmash of pop, rock, rap and even a country song. Whatever gets ya goin’.

So if you’re looking for some workout tunes, here’s what I got in my line-up so far:


Take my advice. Out of all the music and songs and sounds out there, obtain intro by xx. It’s a short instrumental , but no matter where I am or what I’m doing that song digs right into my bones and makes me want to save the world, cure cancer, blow out raging forest fires with a single breath…. I’m sure you get it. It starts slow, but deep and you can feel your back straighten and your head lift and there’s power running through your entire body and then it hits when the voices come over the speakers and you actually start to believe you can do anything.

But then again, everyone experiences their music different. It gives me chills, but it might just piss you off. Either way, there’s motivation in there.

Today’s Workout

  1. Stick ups
  2. Assisted pull-ups with controlled descent
  3. Bent over row
  4. Dumbbell row
  5. Hanging leg raises
  6. Bicep curls
  7. Push ups
  8. Shoulder press
  9. Front raise
  10. Tricep overhead press
  11. Dumbbell squat
  12. Sit ups
  13. Spider crawl
  14. Plank

Chin-Up Challenge Day 7: Guilt Monkeys

In the rules I laid out in the ‘current challenge’ section up top, I essentially say there are no rules. I have 94 days to be able to hoist my body 10 times into the air and let my chin hover over a bar. That being said there is only one way to get there. And that’s by putting in the work every day until then. Right now I have a couple of guilt monkeys backpacking on my shoulders because I hit the ol’ black top right outta town this past weekend and despite naïvely thinking I could get my weight and cardio work outs in, I did not.

Well… I mean… I hit the dance floor pretty hard at one point, but the rainbow of shots I had beforehand really over-shadowed any good my awkward dance moves may have done.

The thing about this challenge is that it’s all or nothing. There are technically no slip ups until the day of reckoning when I grab that bar and try to skyrocket above it. Like anything, if you squander the moment, you don’t get it back. There’s rarely a redo button and with the chin-up challenge if I miss a work out, I can’t make it up later. I had 94 days. Now, I have 87 days.

While I can’t make up what I missed, I did try to up the ante.

Instead of these bad boys…

Small Dumbbells





I used these guys today:





Okay, I still had to use the little dummies for a couple of the exercises, but I have to admit that deadline has me worrying something fierce. As I’m panting away trying to lift a ten pound dumbbell I can’t help thinking about the fact that I weigh significantly more than that. So I want to use heavier weights sooner rather than later.

There’s also a saying or a meme or some sort of internet created thought out there that more or less says Don’t say there isn’t enough time. Instead, say this isn’t a priority.’ Real nifty little saying isn’t it? No wonder I have guilt monkeys. It’s a spew of truth though and sometimes the challenge lies in maybe not what you can physically do, but in what you give up, sacrifice or change in the name of putting in your best effort.

Excuses are easy, progress never is. I’d rather fall on the right side of that line.

Today’s Workout

  1. Stick ups
  2. Scapular retractions
  3. Assisted pulls ups
  4. Bent over row
  5. Hanging leg raises
  6. Bicep curls
  7. Chest press
  8. Push ups
  9. Planks
  10. Dumbbell front raises
  11. Tricep over-head press
  12. Dumbbell dead lifts
  13. Dumbbell squats
  14. Mountain climbers
  15. Reverse hip lift

Chin Up Challenge Day 1: Ohhhhhhhh Boy…

Things do not look good.

I mean, first of all, the doorway pull up bar does not look like a sure bet. Here’s a quarter-inch of trim we’re going to dangle your pull up bar on (which is twice as thick) and then on top of that, let’s throw on all your poundage and see if that thing doesn’t come crashing down chin up champ wannabe and all. And you can’t just ease yourself into testing those waters. Oh no. As soon as your feet leave the ground 100% of you is basically hanging on that tiny bit of trim that lines your doorways. Talk about not confidence inspiring.

But I did it. Not a chin up, mind you – nope, that is a long time coming – but I put my trust in the trim. And, amazingly, I survived. The contraption that I already know is going to be the bane of my existence for the next 3 months stayed perched ever so precariously on the door frame. By the time I got into my workout, my muscles were screaming bloody Mary and not giving two poops about how treacherous my mind thought that dangling device of danger was.


I started out with some assisted pull ups with what was supposed to be a controlled descent. I step off a chair and slowly lower myself until I’m fully extended. Wrong. Full of terror, I step of the chair and plummet towards the ground, my muscles straining desperately to do anything, but coming up completely short. I did this 20 times. Next, the hanging leg raise was up. This is where you hang by your arms and lift your legs (not your knees) towards your chest. The only way I could have been more unsuccessful at doing these was if I just stood there instead. I tried. I failed. Immeasurably.

My arms are already turning into savage creatures of pain as I hang from the terror bar and kick and swing and grunt trying to make my legs defy gravity and sandwich upwards to my chest. This I also tried 20 times. Later on, I try the stability ball hamstring curls. Also not fun. That damned ball really just wanted to roll around, but not in the direction I wanted it to. So I rolled around with it, legs sliding off every which way until 30 movements that looked like hamstring curls managed to happen.

The rest of the things I did were much more successful. But let’s be real, I just compared that success to the aforementioned hanging leg raise. This is going to be my hardest challenge to date.

Here is how high I managed to lift myself… once:

Chin Up Champ Wannabe







It’s going to be a long hard road.

Today’s Workout

  1. Stick ups
  2. Assisted pull ups with controlled descent
  3. Hanging leg raise
  4. Dumbbell row
  5. Dumbbell bicep curl
  6. Pushups
  7. Planking
  8. Chest press
  9. Shoulder press
  10. Squats
  11. Stability ball hamstring curls
  12. Mountain climbers