A story in the NY Times discusses a study by exercise researchers at the University of Dayton which attempted to determine if indeed women cannot do pull-ups. Pull-ups, if you remember PE class, are where you place your hands on a raised bar using an overhand grip, arms fully extended and feet off the floor. Then using the muscles in your arms and back you attempt to pull yourself up to the bar until the chin passes over it.
The researchers found 17 women who could not do a pull-up, put them through a 3 month series of exercises to strengthen the biceps and large back muscle. They lifted weights and did modified pull-ups on an incline. They did aerobic training and worked on the abdominal muscles.
Then they asked them to do a pull-up again. Only 4 of the 17 could do even one.
In the end, the conclusion was people who can do pull-ups tend to be shorter and have low body fat. Women supposedly never get their best body fat ratio under ten. Taller people, men and women have the most trouble doing a pull-up due to the longer arms. Which makes the headline to the story misleading since it's not just women who have trouble.
The purpose of the study was to determine how meaningful pull-ups really are in fitness tests.
Man! I remember those fitness tests. Chin-ups are done similarly to pull-ups but with the hands turned toward the body and are much easier. We had to do both in high school for the President's Physical Fitness Test. As I recall 40 chin-ups put you in the top percentile. So they're still doing some form of them? I'd love to know what the normal results are for each exercise. We had to do pull-ups, chin-ups, sit ups, the 600 yard dash, shuttle run, some kind of throw, maybe a jump.