Category Archives: Training

Women Can’t Do Pullups


Recently the New York Times published and article with this purposely controversy raising title – Why Women Can’t Do Pullups (read the full article HERE).


Lazy people everywhere rejoiced at yet another excuse to be lazy and fit people everywhere locked and loaded their weapons to go on a rampage at the injustice of this claim.

Women can’t do pullups. Really? Hmmmm. Here is a video we threw together randomly one morning….  Women Pullups

At first my fit minded feeling was straight indignation at the authors of the so called scientific journal article where the information was published. My second set of nasty thoughts was aimed directly at the author of the article and lastly I wished destruction upon the media outlets publishing such crap.

As I am inclined to do, however, I decided to research before rant.

The article claims researchers recently released data supporting the idea that women, even fit women as the news article highlights, can’t do pullups. I contacted some of the people I know who are much better researchers than I and asked if they could find this article, because of course the newspaper article didn’t bother to ACTUALLY CITE A SOURCE. No, that would be fair and honest reporting.

What we were all able to find was an article from the same researchers at the quoted University with similar details that the news article reported. Why am I using such ambiguous terminology? Well, because the news article doesn’t really match the research article.

This is when I realized that the research article was in no way intended to be used in the manner that was used/butchered in. Odd, it seems that a reporter misled the public by manipulating research to create controversy. Strange.

You see the actual research article is from the year 2000 (I like how science fiction-y and impressive that sounds in an oddly Orwellian way), which is actually 12 years since publication and most likely about 14 years since the research was actually performed. 14 years?  I hadn’t even graduated high school yet. A lot has changed for me since high school, and I know a lot has changed in exercise, fitness, and strength training since then too. I mean, 14 years ago women were still lifting little 5lbs weights and doing step aerobics to the caressing lyrics of Mariah Carey.

So researchers didn’t ‘just discover this.’ Reporter lie = busted.

When reading the research paper I was quickly flabbergasted by the fact that the research was conducted in an effort to discover if pullups were a useful test for the military or fire services to help determine the fitness level of women. The results of the research – pullups are not a good test because most women can’t do a pullup.

The researchers wanted to determine if a standard exercise program involving the muscles needed to perform a pullup (lattisimus dorsi and biceps) would lead to women being able to actually complete a pullup. So 20 (not 17 as the newspaper article reports) women with little to no fitness training were given a 12 week exercise progam including such things as lat pull downs and bicep curls. They trained three times a week for 12 weeks with University students and their diet was not monitored.

Results – only 3 of the women by the end of 12 weeks were able to perform a pullup.

Thus, even fit women can’t do pullups.

Oh, now I see, that makes total sense.

Train for 12 weeks in a half assed manner, don’t actually do the exercise you are being asked to be tested on, eat what you like, and surprise of surprises, the chances of doing a pullup are less than 25%.

Therefore even fit women can’t do pullups.

Let’s break it down.

Even the researchers commented that the training program wasn’t designed to make the women capable of performing a pullup. No. Their goal was to see if moderately fit women could do a pullup after a general strength training program. Their goal wasn’t to see if women were capable of completing a pullup. They wanted to know if it was fair for the military or fire forces to use pullups as an assessment tool for women applicants who were moderately fit.

So in no way was this a test of whether women COULD perform pullups.

Of course most of the women in this study couldn’t do pullups at the end of the study. THEY DIDN’T EVEN DO ANY PULLUPS DURING THE TRAINING!!!! I am actually surprised that any of them could do a pullup afterwards.

From a fitness perspective all we can discern from this 14 year old research done haphazardly on a whopping 20 people, is that if you do a training program without pull ups, you most likely won’t be able to do a pull up at the end of 12 weeks.

Mind blowing stuff.

I would actually like to see this same protocol used on men in exactly the same manner. Because after 10 years in this business I would say that the same fitness level and training on men would lead to exactly the same result, because guess what, moderately fit men CANT DO PULLUPS EITHER.

So please don’t berate research or trash science. This is a clear cut case of a bored reporter attempting to make a name for herself by showcasing a clear lack of knowledge about fitness and lack of educational ability to actually read and understand scientific research. Should we be more mad at her or the New York Times for allowing such misconstrued bullshit to get published? I am not sure.

The thing is, I can’t change the fact it was written or published. I can’t help convince all the lazy bastards out there using this crap as an excuse to never try and achieve what they are capable of achieving. All I can do is show those who are ready to see what they can accomplish the path to greatness.

Because women can do pullups. I see it every single day.

Proper Lunge Technique

I fully believe that lunges are amongst the top exercises of all time – and Ifully believe that they are one of the most poorly coached and poorly executed exercises.

The primary focus of the lunge is your glutes. Yes, butt for all you non-anatomically inclined out there. Properly executed lunges target the glutes and because they are a compound exercise you can load up the weight to make sure there is enough resistance to actually develop some jean filling proportions.

If you want some more details on how to build a great looking ass, check my blog,

Additionally, your balance and core get an extra workout. Because lunges are done in a split stance you can focus on each leg independently giving a little extra attention to bilateral imbalances and enabling you to protect any type of knee or ankle issues. When you load some weight on your back and hit a split stance your core is working hard to keep you balanced and upright. Sorry, all you bodyweight lungers out there – not doing much for your muscles and core – maybe a little conditioning work but you are missing the majority of the benefits from this exercise.

Now let’s take a look at my primary point – most people do lunges poorly and most coaches coach them that way. I think it is a basic lack of understanding or anatomy and biomechanics that permeates the fitness business that causes this. Most ‘coaches’ and ‘trainers’ don’t really know what they are talking about, they are simply showing you what they saw in a book or from other people at the gym.

What are the most common lunge problems?

• Stance too long
o I call them runners lunges because I find those who run love to see how far they can get their feet apart during lunges. The problem? Well, a couple of the problems? 1) Limited range of motion at the hip so not fully using glutes, 2)poor hip mechanics, 3)leads to improper posture, 4) too easy because of lack of range

• Stance too narrow
o For some reason people love to practice tightrope walking when they should be lunging. You don’t stand or walk with your feet in line with each other and you shouldn’t be lunging that way. There is a movement assessment we do called an in-line lunge (Gray Cook’s FMS) but this is an assessment and not an exercise

• Weight loaded on back leg
o Lunge focus is on the front leg and glute. With the posture in the right place and weight on the front leg you should really feel that front leg side glute fire up. This is the primary goal of the exercise!

• Not deep enough
o Are you doing lunges or knee bends? If you are not lunging full range – which means your front leg thigh should be parallel to the ground, you are not putting your muscles through full ranges of motion, thus, are not maximizing benefit from the exercise. Don’t do knee bends, you look silly and your ass won’t be looking any better anytime soon.

And my NUMBER ONE issue I want to get through with this article:

• Poor upper body posture

o Probably one of my biggest pet peeves, no, it is worse than a pet peeve. I think this is a hallmark of quality strength coaches and trainers vs. ones who are simply copycats.

o You should not be completely upright with a vertical posture during a lunge. You should be leaning forward in what most would know as an athletic stance. If you take your torso completely vertical you are doing a few bad things:
1. Overloading your lumbar spine – yep – hurting your back
2. Not allowing your glutes to work to their max potential (little anatomy joke there for some of you)
3. Not being able to use the core musculature as much as it should, which again, can lead to overload on your spine and joints

o So, if all this is true, why are there so many so called fitness professionals out there still coaching upright posture? I don’t know. They watch too much Tony Little and still think Gillian Michaels is a personal trainer? That is about the only excuse I can come up with.

What should your lunges look like?

• Front thigh parallel to the ground
o Self explanatory I think.

• Shoulder width stance
o Stand in your regular squat stance, feet typically shoulder width apart. Step straight back with one foot – there it is. Lunge stance!

• Back knee just behind front heel
o Without weight take your back leg knee and touch it to the ground. It should be 2-4 inches behind your front heel. No runners lunges please!

• Normal spine
o 3 curves to your spine – cervical, thoracic, and lumbar. Keep them all curved the way they were intended, and voila!

• Leaned forward – athletic stance
o This is the proper lunge position to fully work your glutes, core, and legs. No, this will not hurt your lower back if you retain proper spinal posture as demonstrated here. If you let your posture collapse then yes, you could overtax the lower back muscles.
o This is the athletic stance we teach to every athlete from the time they attend their first practice. This is also the posture for squats, deadlifts, step-ups, and any other leg exercise out there. Why do we change this on lunges? Simply bad, old school, circa 1980, training theory and ideology.

-Strength Coach Taylor

Drink beer, eat chocolate, have a washboard stomach!

Within the first 10 minutes of launching Strength Coach Taylor I already had a request for a blog. I love blog requests (yes I am hinting that if you want me to talk about a subject just ask!) and this one was perfect for the first blog of my new site.

The question was posed to me: “can I eat chocolate everyday, drink beer and still have a six pack?”

This might surprise some of you, especially if you know me. But…

The answer is: Yes. *collective gasp*

While this response might surprise you, it is important to understand that this scenario is in fact possible. If you wanted to have a couple of beers a day and a chocolate bar, yet still remain lean enough to have visible abs, there are definitely ways to achieve this goal.

What is the magical prescription to this seemingly unobtainable goal? And why haven’t I shared this before?

Well, I haven’t shared it because none of you are probably willing to do what it takes to achieve it. Here is the magical prescription:

Exercise 2 to 3 hours a day 5 or 6 days a week. These workouts will consist of a variety training modalities and will be mixed up throughout the workout and the week. You will have to strength train, power train, do basic hypertrophy exercise, and add in segments of high intensity interval training. In addition, some of you will have to add an additional 2-4 hours weekly of low intensity long duration work in order to specifically burn extra fat calories.

Now because you will be training 18 – 22 hours a week your body is going to be trashed. So you are going to need an hour or two of recovery a day. Hot and cold baths, foam rolling, yoga, massage, and movement work will be essential to making sure you don’t fall apart. Abs won’t matter if your arms fall off.

That puts you at 22-28 hours a week that have to be dedicated to your training program.

Another note is that this program will have to be built and supervised by an experienced athletic coach (yes, I could do this for you) to ensure that you get leaner and are able to keep your body in working order. And supplements are going to be essential – creatine, protein powder, beta-alinine, branched chain amino acids, L-glutamine, and properly timed sugar intake will be required to make all of this work.

Lastly, the rest of your nutrition program will have to be ‘dialed-in’. While we will be having beer and chocolate daily, you will have to ensure that your protein intake is high, you are eating a lot of complex carbs, healthy fats, lots of fibre, and getting a full complement of vitamins and minerals.

And that’s it!

Train like this!

There is the magic. The perfect program that will let you have a six pack and eat chocolate and have beer each and every day.

So if you are willing to put in the work and dedication you can have both – a six pack and beer & chocolate.

And if you aren’t willing to put in the work and effort – well, then don’t expect that flab oozing over your gut to morph into a ripped washboard stomach if you are pumping booze and sugar down your throat.

-Strength Coach Taylor

Twitter: tr_simon