Saturday, July 24, 2010

No Matter What I Weigh....the #1 reason why I didn't pass my Pull-up

#1 reason I didn't pass my pull-up? I didn't think I could. For weeks I knew I would not pass my pull-up....weeks.... But why not? There are lots of reasons, both mental and physical, and I'll list them all, but let's focus on the #1 reason. Belief, and the conditions I set on myself to have that belief.

I didn't believe I would succed at the Tactical Pull-up strength requirement (overhand grip) at my current bodyweight of 140-144lbs. I did believe I could succeed if I dropped 5-8 lbs....but I wasn't able to get my head into dieting down, and therefore this "bodyweight contingency" I put on myself hung over my head everyday that I didn't wake up lighter. Everyday that I didn't get lighter (lose weight) I pounded another nail in my coffin.

Here's a little history.....

About 3 years ago, when my bodyweight was a little lighter, on a whim I grabbed onto a pull-up bar and miraculously almost did a pull-up with no training whatsoever. Well, no specific pull-up training, but plenty of overhead pushpresses, not to mention all of the other high volume KB training I had been doing for over 2 years..... Now you have to remember that I had been a severly overweight woman, in her 40's just 2-3 years prior, with no "real" athletic accomplishments to speak of, previous.

Skinny fixes everything....or does it?

So, I'm not "skinny" anymore, or at least my definition of "skinny", and the whole reason why I thought I could almost do a pull-up was because I was skinny...right? Umm, no!

This is how I messed up my mental "game".

Fast forward to the first ever National HKC, Sept. 2009, in St Paul MN..... Strength requirement for women, 15 second bodyweight "hang" (overhand or underhand, your choice...underhand is easier, FYI). I knew weeks, if not months, beforehand that I could not meet that requirement. That's right, Queen of Swing could not support a bodyweight hang for a mere 15 seconds.

Although I assisted Team Brett Jones at that Cert, I was the only person to not sit in on the photo of all of the participants that day. Why not? Because I felt I had no business including myself with all of the other woman that tested their hang that day, pass or fail. I, myself, did not meet the requirement. So when I got home I was hell bent on training to pass, within the next 3 months....which I did within 6 weeks to proudly assist at Girya's first HKC 12/6. And then what? The requirement changed to a 25 second bodyweight hang! So, I trained for that, and I succeeded. Now what?

RKC, School of Strength. Strength is a skill. If you don't "train" a specific skill, you will not be able to perform it. Unless you are naturally, genetically, and physically talented for that specific strength. I am "pear shaped", "bottom heavy", whatever....upper body strength is not my natural talent. Endurance training is. I'll swing forever. I'll do back to back Bikram's Yoga 2-3-4-5 times, whatever. But the whole reason why I decided to take the Level 2 RKC was to push myself into what is uncomfortable, and to test-run this philosophy of "School of Strength". If I can train to do a pull-up, at this bodyweight, or whatever freakin' bodyweight I am at, then I have truly understood the science and discipline behind training for strength.

The skill of doing a pull-up, is not about being lighter, it's about being stronger....strong enough....and training the movement. Don't get me wrong, I mean being lighter helps, but it's about being strong....."Strong fixes everything", not skinny!

Good Lord...hang in here with me because for some of you this is really important to hear.....not to mention giving credit where credit is due.....Diana Behrend

Sept, 2009, first ever National HKC, I had three of my regular students that train with me attend this Certification. Two of the three I knew would not pass the hang requirement, but they didn't go to get Certified they went to "survive"! And survive they did! They rocked it, hang or no hang! I also had another long distance student attend (I regularly do phone consults with potential HKC's and RKC's for program design), Diana B.

Diana is a former "fat girl"....I hope she realizes this a compliment (former fat girls rock!). Diana showed up for this first ever HKC weighing in at around 188lbs (I asked her permission before publicly posting this information), and guess what? She passed her "hang test"! Diana passed her freakin', frackin', hang with a bodyweight of more than 40lbs over mine! How did she do it?

She trained for it, that's how!

So, here I was, completely down on myself for not losing a measley 5 lbs, or so, and blaming that for the reason of my defeat......the pull-up did not defeat me, I defeated me.

Once my first attempt at the pull-up was over, then it was over....I did not suceed. OK, whew, now there were no expectations. If I failed again (which I did 2 more times before the weekend was over!), who the hell cared? No one expected me to succeed anyway, most importantly me.

I could have declined to test again that weekend and left without putting myself in the position of failing....again. But I decided that I had nothing to lose, and how great would it have been if I actually had pulled it off, lol!

Home again, home again, jiggity jig.....I got home and decided that no matter how much I weighed I was going to train for strength and get that damn pull up!

Remembering the discipline and determination of Diana, who at the bodyweight of over 180lbs, did what I could not do, at my own bodyweight of 140-ish lbs, I knew that I had to change my training strategy. My new training strategy? To get strong enough to pull my ass up over that damn bar no matter what I weighed....period. My new strategy was to get stronger, not lighter. what a concept, eh? Besides, there were plenty of women that weekend that weighed as much, if not more, than I did, and passed the pull-up test. Age? Weight? Bodytype? It's only one pull-up.

more to come......

Photos and video above.
Top video is my last attempt at my pull-up as my Team Leader, Keneth Jay was coaching me. Did I think I could do it? I didn't care at this point! Whatever....I had nothing to lose, and I thought, maybe through the miracle of Christ it could happen....the worst part was over afterall! LOL! OK people, you have to realize the courage it took for me to even post this attempt publicly! I'm all about being real though (NOT! I want to look badass....oh well!) Anyway, I will get that freakin' pullup in Hungary within the next two weeks time. As this will be last chance I have to succed in front of Kenneth Jay, and the freakin' I making too big a deal of this? Hey,

Kenneth expected me to fail my pistol too....I'll show him. Watch the video below....he had me do it twice because he didn't believe I did it the first time! That's why he was standing on the wrong side of me to make a judgement. (This old gal has a little more to prove....)


Jen said...

Tracy, You're always a badass to me! You are sooo right that our mind has great power...if we don't think we can, we're usually right. Strength is important too...I haven't even attempted a pull-up let alone a bodyweight hang...that goal is yet to come! Thanks for sharing and always being real. Hungary is going to be an amazing experience! xoxo Jen

Anonymous said...
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Diana said...

This may drag since I tend to ramble on and on but, I'll try and keep it to the point!

First of all, being called "former" totally rocks. Those of us who have dropped triple, yes triple, frickin' digits of fat are a breed of our own! We can never be touched!

Second, the mind is truly amazing-if we don't have it in our heads that this is what's going to happen, then it won't. You know I had my doubts going into the RKC....thank goodness for the last minute pep-talk to help! After absolutely nailing that snatch test (which BTW, I would have killed for you to have seen me pull that sucker off with greatness!)I knew this weekend would be ok. I knew the physical part was going to be a breeze (so to speak, RKC is NO joke!), but to get the mind into the same phase as the body is sometimes the hardest thing to train!

You having the courage to show your pull-up attempt is why I knew you'd be the best coach for me for the RKC-because to show you are human is what truly makes you a BAD-ASS!!!

I haven't "hung" since the "hang".....I should see what's up, or what's not able to get up!! (lol)

You will shine at your pull-up. You lucky biatch for having who you have for your instructor! Although, I did get the "dark" version!!! (lol)

Knock 'em dead and thanks for the shout out!

Haley said...
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Haley said...

I know I don't know you other than in the 'net world, but from what I've read on your blogs, I feel like I know you well enough to say that you're gonna NAIL you're next pullup test. The body does what the mind tells it to..nothing more, nothing less...

Tracy Reifkind said...


Attempting a pull up is easy! Doing one is the hard part....but "hard" is relative.

"Hard" is what you didn't feel when you broke that board! Takes a badass to know one, lol!

Tracy Reifkind said...


Start training your pullup now! Just kidding...

I made it way harder on myself than it ever should have been, and I'll prove that in a couple of weeks.

This lesson has crossed over into so many other parts of my life, and continues to do so.

Tracy Reifkind said...


Thank you. This experience has helped me in so many other ways that I guess it was supposed to go down this way.....

Interesting how when one door closes another one opens.

Karin Spirn said...
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