NEWS & EVENTS

Women Can’t Do Pull-Ups?????? By TJ Murphy

The NYT: “Why Women Can’t Do Pull-ups”

Yes, that’s the story, appearing in the Well and set to be published October 28.

I have a few comments to make.

For one, my girlfriend, Gretchen Weber, who was more of an academic than an athlete growing up, can most certainly do pull-ups.

I know. Once at at a San Francisco CrossFit class I was set up next to her for the classic benchmark WOD, “Cindy,” a workout that includes as many rounds as possible of pull-ups, push-ups and air squats.

There’s a funny thing about these WODS and the competitive nature of a CrossFit class. Despite all the focus and fuzziness generated by the anaerobic, high-intensity heart-pounding work at hand, I notice I can still keep tabs on a person right next to me through some miracle of peripheral vision. I know if I’m ahead of them or if they’re beating me. It must be some sort of power developed over a billion years of evolution.

In other words, I could watch out of the corner of my eye as Gretchen ripped through round after round, at least 12, five pull-ups per round, looking like the pull-ups were as taxing as reaching for a box of sugar.

As she steadily pulled away from me in the WOD, I was reminded of one of the first videos in the CrossFit.com archive of Annie Sakamoto, her baby watching from the sidelines, as she performed the WOD called, “Josh,” where in the first round alone she peels off 42 consecutive pull-ups. At the time I saw it I hadn’t started CrossFit and might have been lucky to do three strict pull-ups and was surely incapable of kipping pull-ups.

And while there always seems to be an uproar over kipping pull-ups when a discussion like this happens, I say, Whatever. I know in doing workouts with kipping pull-ups I feel like my heart is about to explode, and it took me a long time to be able to do even three of them, so I say, Whatever.

And this isn’t to say I don’t see women at CrossFit classes doing plenty of strict pull-ups. Not to mention the muscle-up–a pull-up followed by a ring dip on gymnastics rings.

At any rate, the journalists at the Well should take a break from reading the research and visit CrossFit NYC, aka, the Black Box, on West 26th street off of Broadway. Particularly if Cindy is on the schedule.

You can enjoy this and all of TJ’s great posts on his blog, Inside the Box.

About TJ:  T.J. Murphy is a veteran endurance athlete, CrossFitter, and former editorial director of Triathlete, Inside Triathlon, and Competitor magazines. He is author of Triathlete Magazine’s Guide to Finishing Your First Triathlon and contributor to Start to Finish: 24 Weeks to an Endurance Triathlon.