Women Can’t Do Pull Ups: It’s a Law of Physics

Sarah B. Weir, Yahoo! blogger
Healthy Living
October 25, 2012


Don't worry, it's normal.
Don't worry, it's normal.

I love when science proves that I'm not a wimp. In a study performed by the University of Dayton, out of 17 women who specifically trained for three months to complete a single pull up, only 4 succeeded. "We honestly thought we could get everyone to do one," Paul Vanderburgh, a professor of exercise physiology at the University of Dayton, tells the New York Times."

In what sounds like a rather grueling regime, the women, all average weight and college-aged, pumped iron on an incline three days a week to gain muscle mass, and also did aerobic exercise to slim down. After 90 days, they were leaner and stronger: the average participant lowered her body fat by two percent and increased her upper body strength by 36 percent. Still, when it came time to do the dreaded pull up, most of the women failed.

Vanderburgh explains that women not only develop less muscle than men (whose body composition is fueled by testosterone), the proportion of women's limbs makes performing a pull up tough. "We're a combination of levers; that's how we move…" he explains, "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."

The Marines don't require female recruits to do pull ups, but the Presidential Fitness Test says that teenage girls should be able to execute one pull up to score within the 50 th percentile-two for girls under 14. While I'm awe of super women who can crank out a few pull ups, for the rest of us, maybe it's time to lower the bar.

What to Read Next

Safe ride. Sound savings.

Get to Nissan’s Safety Today Event for great offers on a new Nissan. Shop Now.

Liberty Mutual Insurance

Save up to $509 on car insurance with Liberty Mutual. Get your free quote now and start saving today.

Find your dream Ryan home in Carroll County!

3 Incredible new communities in one of Maryland’s fastest-growing regions, just minutes to recreation & dining. Save thousands now! MHBR No. 56

What is an Annuity?

It may be your key to guaranteed* retirement income for life.** Schedule a free session with one of our retirement income specialists today.

He Said Goodbye at 62...

I honestly cannot believe what I just read. If what he just revealed is true the sport will never be looked at the same ever again.