Those two persons is me and my wife. For some reason that I'm still trying to figure out, we decided to train to do at least 1 chin up by CNY. Both of us are zero heroes, meaning we can't even do one chin ups. For me, I'm a serial zero hero. At the peak I could do 10+, and that was back in my prime during army days.
During end 2013, I managed to do 3 to 4, so that I could pass the more stringent IPPT before they revamped it all over again. Anyway, I have a lot of experience in going from zero chin ups to 1. The journey from 0 to 1 is immensely harder than from 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3. So a lot of effort had to be done to build up the back muscles and the arms. Esp the back muscles, which is kind of hard to train unless you go to the gym purposefully. For my wife, she never had the experience of doing 1 chin up before, so it's a brand new experience for her.
|This is where I want to be|
In the past, when I was going from 0 to 1, I was doing all sorts of things except going to the bar to attempt to pull myself up. I would be doing weights, then push ups and dips and those assisted pull up machines found in the gym. The settings of the chin up machine is set so that I can do 10, which means that it's not hard a setting. After training for some time, I would test myself by going to the bar and attempt to do one. A few grunts and a few kicks, I still can't do one. How disappointing, I thought. Didn't I train hard?
If you want to learn how to swim, you can buy the best swimming trunks, the best anti-fog goggles, a nice Speedo swimming cap and even a mp3 player that is water resistance so that you can listen to music while swimming. You can read all about how to do it from books, talk to swimming enthusiasts to ask them to give you some tips and watch youtube videos. But if your feet is not even dipping into the swimming pool, it's not going to help. To learn how to swim, you need to jump into the water. Might not be initially, but eventually you'll need to.
I guess the same lesson applies for my chin ups...if I want to do one chin up, I need to go to the bar and attempt to do it. All other things are peripheral. The most effective way to do it is to attempt to do it. Invariably, you'll encounter problems. Like, I can only do less than half a chin up. Since the back muscles are the ones that do the initial lifting, I concluded that my back muscles are weak. The only way to train is to do more assisted chin ups, until you can do half a chin up (this means that you can lift yourself up to the point where your elbows are about 90 degrees).
And that is where I am right now.
To go further, I need to build up my biceps. That's why I'm doing weights. Out of all books that I read, it's Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb that I learnt how to build more powerful muscles so that you can lift heavier weights. You just need to take the max weight that you can lift for about 5-6 times, instead of doing multiple times on lighter weights. When I mean 5-6 times, I really mean the last lift you can do is 6. You'll be struggling on the last rep and you possibly can't do anymore after that. The theory is that if you want to lift heavier weights (which is essentially what chin up is about), you need to practice lifter heavier weights. Doing lighter weights multiple times can only make you...lift lighter weights multiple times. So right now for me, it's 8.75 kg for 6 times, 3 sets, with rest in between.
It just takes less than 10 mins to waste my arms totally. On top of this, I'm still doing the die-die-do-12-chins-up-by-any-means exercise with my wife. I tried it yesterday night, and I can barely even do 1/4. It's like that, my muscles are totally wasted. To become stronger, you need to destroy and rebuild. That's how nature works. I just need to supply it with nutrients and water and the rest would take care of itself.
|This is where I am now. From Freddy Thorn Illustration|
LP the personal trainer? No lah. Knowing me, you know where I'm going to end this post with. Seldom do we see new things, but we consistently find new ways of doing old things. From my chin up journey, you can see a few important points:
1. If you want to do something, go do it. Don't do everything except the things you want to do. I know sometimes we need to psych ourselves to the task. Go do it then, but ultimately remember this, to do chin ups, you need to go to the pull up bar and do chin ups. Any other things are peripheral and at most plays a supporting role. Do the thing that you fear the most.
2. Push your limits to grow. Doing the same thing that you can already do multiple times is a different sort of training if your goal is to do even bigger things. Of course you'll suck at it initially, but that's the only way to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
3. To grow anew, you need to destroy. By going about your old ways yet hoping to see new results is insane and delusional. If you don't remove the old, it's hard to find new space to fit in the new.