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 16: Those 5 Pounders…

It felt grueling out there today.

I mean… every workout feels grueling as I’m a superb weakling trying to attempt the seemingly impossible (the impossible being the lifting of the more than a hundred and fifty pounds of myself over that dad-blasted chin up bar) with a titanium plate in my elbow and sciatica firing in my back, but today was a just a little bit more… harsh. Just a smidge.

I normally keep it pretty consistent with the dumbbell fly, but today I couldn’t even manage one using 15 pound weights and had to scale back to 10 pounders. But where things got particularly dicey was for the front raise, lateral raise, and rear raise part. No breaks, no rests – nothing. After a couple sets of that trifecta, my arms went on strike. I mean, I ordered them off the picket line and back to work, but it just wasn’t quite the same.5 pounders

Every time I use a 10 pound weight… or 8 pound…. Or… *sigh* 5 pound… I can’t help but think of the end goal and how the aforementioned plus 150 pounds is supposed to be hoisted to victory by me. Me. The person who sometimes uses 5 pound weights. Sure, the 5 pounder doesn’t appear too often, but when it does – it just looks like defeat.

Although! There is no doubt that I am stronger. I see it in other ways so that is encouraging. I am getting somewhere, but by the end of the challenge it still probably won’t be… up.

Today’s Workout

  1. Assisted chin-up
  2. Inverted row
  3. Dead lift
  4. Hyperextension
  5. Sit ups
  6. Dumbbell fly
  7. Front raise
  8. Lateral raise
  9. Rear raise
  10. Overhead press
  11. Bicep curl
  12. Dumbbell squat
  13. Spider crawl
  14. Mountain climbers

Chin-up Challenge Workout 14: Bipolar Muscularitis Whiplash

Okay. I definitely made up ‘bipolar muscularitis,’ but it does have the right kind of ring to it. As for the whiplash part, well, that’s where you come in. Consider this fair warning.

Last workout’s confetti celebration is being subjected to a retraction in today’s post-workout review. The controlled descent chin-up seems to be my greatest measure of how I’m doing, so let me do a bit of a recap on that front for the past 4 weight sessions.

Workout 11: Not awesome, but felt a bit more controlled on the way down. So, progress.

Workout 12: A huge step back from workout 11… Retraction!

Workout 13: Killed it! In a good way… Progress.

Workout 14 (today): No good. Retraction!

With so much back and forth, you must be getting some serious whiplash just watching my struggle unfold. As for my muscles, well, as you can clearly see, I’m on an exhaustive seesaw of able and not able. teeter_totter_2(Why is that piece of simple playground equipment called that? Someone suffering from tense confusion? And what does it have to do with sight? Teeter totter makes so much more sense.)

Anyway, there seems to be a pattern developing here and I’ve deemed this pattern the aforementioned bipolar muscularitis. I fully encourage any and all of you to swiftly adopt this term into your vocabulary. Now, in case you missed the obvious, I was a free-fall fool plummeting groundwards on my attempted controlled descent chin-ups today. It’s a little sad because I felt so victorious on Tuesday, but, like life… you lose some, you win some. If there’s anything to this bipolar muscularitis pattern then I’m sure the next workout will another underdog uprising.

Today’s Workout

  1. Bent over row
  2. Assisted chin-up with controlled descent
  3. Dumbbell row
  4. Sit ups
  5. Hyperextension
  6. Chest press
  7. Shoulder press
  8. Tricep overhead press
  9. Bicep curl
  10. Dumbbell squat
  11. Dumbbell reverse lunge
  12. Couch press (More colloquially known as… helping a friend move their new couch into their place.)

Chin-Up Challenge Day 18: Typo Induced Muscle

Things were going smooth. Well, about as smooth as always so for those of you who have been devoutly following my struggle that means pathetic leg raises, plunging controlled decent, and failure – all with just a faint whisper of improvement. I’m following a pre-created workout regimen because I have never done weight training before so I need someone to tell me what to do. This one is even tailored to maximize your chin-up potential.

As I’m working my way through the exercises, I stumble upon this: Repeat both exercises 2 more times (2 sets total.) Normally it would say either Repeat both exercises 2 more times (3 sets total) or Repeat both exercises (2 sets total.)

What to do, what to do. Is it two sets or… is it three? Usually a typo only results in the extra physical work it takes to punch the old backspace key and tap in the right character. Not this time. Nope. It resulted in 10 more assisted pull ups and 10 more bent over rows.

After that little dilemma I get back into the swing of things, slowly making my way yet again until…. confusion strikes again! This time it’s for the reverse hip lift. It says: 10 reps each leg. But. Why wouldn’t it just say do 20? So I got into a panic thinking I’ve been doing the wrong exercise and quickly hit google for the truth.

I was doing the right exercise. But now, I’m not sure if I’m necessarily doing it right. It seemed straight forward, but is there some additional maneuver? Some unwritten method? Some secret muscle maxing strategy? It’s an ab exercise so why the mention of legs? I feel like it could have just as easily said do 2 reps for each finger or 20 reps for each head you have… unless a typographical error snuck in again and I was only to do 10 reps per set after all.

I did 20 just to be safe. Which meant I potentially did an extra 30 altogether.

Typos aside, my pushups look more legit these days so I’m pretty happy with that. It’s probably because I’m doing all this extra work and my muscles are booming. So thank you typos. Thank you.

Today’s Workout

  1. Stick ups
  2. Scapular retractions
  3. Assisted pull ups with controlled descent
  4. Bent over row
  5. Dumbbell row
  6. Hanging leg raises
  7. Dumbbell bicep curls
  8. Push ups
  9. Plank holds (30 seconds)
  10. Chest press
  11. Dumbbell front raise
  12. Tricep over head press
  13. Deadlifts
  14. Dumbbell squats
  15. Reverse hip lifts
  16. Plank holds (30+ seconds)

Chin-Up Challenge Day 14: Show Boats and the Fire-Breathing Dragon

It’s Saturday night and the gym is empty. But not for long.

“So you’re doing 10 chin ups a day for 3 months?” my friend asks so absolutely, heart-crushingly, devastatingly innocently and I can feel a fire-breathing dragon rising up inside of me to vapourize him in one I-can’t-believe-you-think-this-is-easy puff.

But I take a sip from my beverage to put out the fire and cough out a garbled laugh, “no way! At the end of 3 months I hope to do 10.” The dragon lowers its head and goes back to its peaceful slumber.

“I can do 15, easy,” he says. One of the dragon’s nostrils flares.

“Yeah, I can do them,” another friend says. An eye opens.

“I want to see you do them,” my across the street neighbor says and she starts hustling us all to the gym that’s just down the hall.

The first guy jumps up to the bar and kicks his way to 14 quick chin-ups, each just a bit harder than the one before. The second guy starts from the bottom and muscles his way to 3 slow but impressive chin-ups.

… and, back at home, I still only lift up about 5 inches from a dead hang. Awesome.

I tried to find some real stats, but I don’t trust most of what I found as accurate or legitimate except, perhaps, that women have to work a lot harder than men to do chin-ups. But, I mean, I just got mind-destroyed by two men and maybe that’s just what I want to believe. However, I did come across one trainer who writes that challenging yourself to do chin-ups is incredibly frustrating.

Bang on, lady, bang on.

Now, I did have an arm wrestling match and managed to hold my opponent at a standstill… with my TROPHY WIFE arm! You all know how useless that thing is, so hip-hip-hooray for not losing (and who cares about winning? Right?) I can actually feel my arms getting stronger; today I used 15 pound dumbbells for all the weighted exercises (which, for me, is progress – a weakling’s progress, but still progress.) My controlled descent wasn’t as celebratory as before – mostly because I was supposed to lower for 4 seconds and it was quite a bit quicker than that yet.

This really is an interesting challenge for me because I really really hate failing and with this I have to fail so much on the way to (hopefully) reaching my goal. Alright, I don’t have to fail, but my strength level dictates that I will fail and I will keep failing for probably a long time until one day… I don’t. Well, except for the planks and pushups. I literally do those until failure. So, I mean, I will always have failure as part of my daily regimen. It’s probably for the best, you know… to keep me humble.

Today’s Workout

  1. Stick ups
  2. Scapular retractions
  3. Assisted pull up with 4 count descent
  4. Bent over row
  5. Dumbbell row
  6. Chest press
  7. Push ups
  8. Planks
  9. Shoulder press
  10. Dumbbell squats
  11. Side planks
  12. Spider crawl
  13. Sit ups

Ahhhhhhhhh. Bloody heck. As I was typing out the workout, I realized I just blatantly skipped one of the exercises. That was not intentional. I should have also done stability ball curls… 3 whole sets of them. Piss.