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Most Women Can't Do Pull Ups: Here's Why

| Filed under: FitnessHealthScience!


This might sound sexist, but in all honesty it has nothing to do with sexism. It has everything to do with physiology, and, well, physics!

Also, we want to point out that a bunch of men can't do pull ups either, but it seems particularly so for women. For instance, the Marines say a male recruit should be able to do at least 3 pull-ups or chin-ups. Women are not required to do them. In school, 14-year-old boys can grab the highest award on the government’s physical fitness test by doing 10 pull-ups or chin-ups: for 14-year-old girls, it’s 2.

That's nuts, so what's the deal?

Researchers wanted to find out, so they grabbed 17 normal-weight women who couldn't do any pull-ups. Then they trained the hell out of them. Three days a week, for three months, they worked on biceps and latissimus dorsi. They did weight lifts. The worked on aerobics to lower fat.

They ended up increasing their upper-body strength by 36 percent and lowered their body fat by 2 percent. On test day, they all passed and did 25 pull ups.

Just kidding, only 4 of the 17 could do one. One. Uno. 1.

What they found is this: It isn't all about strength. Men and women who can do them tend to have a combination of strength, low body fat and shorter stature. Women have lower levels of testosterone, so they typically develop less muscle than men… plus they can’t lose as much fat. It's a bullshiz state of affairs, obviously, as men can get to 4 percent body fat; women typically bottom out at more than 10 percent.

This does not mean women are any less fit than men. At all. And they can be strong and fast and just as incredible — they just aren't as good at pull-ups.

Like we said before, though, men can't do them much more easily. Especially those taller or bigger, or with longer arms because if you compare a smaller athlete to an athlete who has the same exact build but is 30 percent bigger, the bigger athlete will be only about 20 percent stronger, even though he has to carry about 30 percent more weight.

It all comes down to physics:

“We’re a combination of levers; that’s how we move. Generally speaking, the longer the limb, the more of a disadvantage in being able to do a pull-up. I look at a volleyball player and wouldn’t expect her to be able to do a pull-up, but I know she’s fit.”

There you have it!

[Image via AP Images.]

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