10 Reasons to Do Pull-Ups if You’re a Fat Woman 
Written by Invictus Member Kelly M

I never did anything athletic until I was almost 30 years old. I had no idea what a contact sport meant until I joined the San Diego Derby Dolls, whose practice space was right upstairs from the little CrossFit gym that would eventually become Invictus San Diego. 

For years, I would walk by the open roll up door on the way to roller derby practice, thinking how advanced and intense those CrossFit workouts looked, hoping that one day I’d be strong enough to do something like that. 

After 12 years of skating, coaching, and eventually doing my first year of CrossFit in North Carolina, I moved back to San Diego temporarily and was thrilled to join Invictus San Diego. 

For life after roller derby, I am excited to put more focus on weightlifting and possibly volunteer with (or start) free community fitness programs. 

Pictured: Me obediently flexing for the camera. 

Here’s my list with a thought on each reason…

10 Reasons to Do Pull-Ups if You’re a Fat Woman

#1 – You will learn the truth about which muscles are involved in pull-ups.
Many people assume that the strict pull-up is a matter of strong shoulders and arms. However, learning that the back, and especially lats are the headlining muscles makes training seem so much more achievable. 

#2 – You will learn a dozen different ways to train for the pull-up.
From the classic ring rows and negatives, to seated pull ups onto a ring, and “box touch” pull ups, the training is fun and interesting. I used to think I would be very limited in the options I could do, but instead I’m learning a new way to train every week.

#3 – Want 5 minutes of coveted internet attention? Be the first woman over 175 lbs to post a video doing a strict unassisted pull up!
While there are undoubtedly women (probably powerlifters) with the strength to pull up at 200, 250, 300 lbs, it’s not in the scope of powerlifting, so we aren’t seeing it online. I am happy to be proven wrong, by the way. 

#4 – It’s a long term goal that is completely achievable.
As stated earlier, no women are demonstrating a heavyweight pullup online because it is a very hard task. But hard does not mean impossible, and it does require prioritizing pull-ups in your training. I don’t exclusively train in pull-ups, but I am always looking for how to get practice in, every day, every workout. 

#5 – It will reinvigorate the rest of your training.
I used to dread pull-ups during a workout because I didnt think there was any chance I’d be able to do them. A few different things lead to me changing my mind, and that change of mind made the difference. I quickly converted from an immovable mass to a living, evolving creature who could make the progress, centimeter by centimeter. 

#6 – You will get much stronger in other areas of training.
For years, push-ups have been my weakest movement, but I have seen more improvement though 2 months of pull-up training than I have in years of dreading and “just getting through them”. Same thing happened for lunges (I am lopsided from a decade of roller derby) and side planks. 

#7 – You will inspire other fat people.
While fat athletes are no longer considered a ridiculous myth the way we were even 10 years ago, there is still a lot of perceived limitations coming from decades of misunderstanding, disregard, and the internalized fatphobia that comes from it. I like trying to do a 300 lb pull-up because it will demonstrate that we are capable of very challenging feats without it being tied to weight loss. The measure of success is not whether or not my body starts to change appearance. The pull-up, and all progress leading up to it, will speak for itself. I am very grateful of the support I received at Invictus. I was made to feel like I could achieve this without question, and was given strategies and encouragement and follow up.

#8 – You can clown the peanut gallery of “conventional fitness wisdom”.
Nevermind fat, women in general are always hearing about how we inherently lack the same upper body strength of men, as if men have anything to do with whether or not we are strong. I am looking forward to making a few jaws drop once I can casually do a pull-up at a random stoplight.

#9 – It will make other distant goals seem possible.
I will never forget the first time I saw Leigh Holland-Keen lift the Dinnie Stones. And trust me, if I get to pulling 250-300 lbs up in a strict pull-up, then I for sure will be able to train for a 733 lb awkward deadlift in Scotland.

#10 – Why not?

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November 8, 2022 9:37 am

Love this! Keep working, Kelly!!

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