Wow – I Didn’t Know That I Could Become a 98-Pound Weakling That Quickly

Short version: I used to be pretty good at doing pullups. I took some time off from the gym. I decided to start doing pullups again this past Monday, planning to do three sets of five as a starting point. The result: I did three sets of one. That’s right, only one pullup. And that last set I really had to stretch my neck to get it over the bar. Sad…

If you’re out of time, there’s no need to read the rest of this. When I went back to edit my original post given below, I realized there’s a lot of bragging in it. You’ll be happy to know I’ve kept it all in there, but I decided to also make the brief version given above if you don’t want to read about a 62-year old guy reliving his glory days.

OK. So I haven’t been hitting the gym like I used to, but at least I have been doing lots of cardio.

Here’s a quick look at what my past couple of weeks have been like:

Last week:

Monday: 60 minutes on indoor bike
Tuesday: 60-minute walk
Wednesday: 75 minutes on bike
Thursday: 60-minute walk
Friday: 60ย  minutes on bike
Saturday: 90-minute walk

This week:

Monday: 60 minutes on indoor bike
Tuesday: 60-minute walk
Wednesday: 90 minutes on bike

and my plan for the next three days is as follows:

Thursday: 60-minute walk
Friday: 60ย  minutes on bike
Saturday: 90-minute walk

I’ve been faithfully doing cardio six days a week for the past several months, so I’m confident my heart is in pretty good shape.

About a month ago I started adding some strength training to my routine, using stretch tubes to do a few different exercises three times a week.

So on Monday, I decided I was ready to add some pushups and pullups to the routine.

Note the use of the plural form of pullups.

I’ve always considered pullups my go-to exercise. I think having been a swimmer, along with having toothpicks for legs, helped me get pretty good at them. In fact, in high school, I tied the school records for sophomores with 21 pullups (you can’t imagine how long I hung there trying to do one more), and then in college one day, I did 33 of them.

I realize that was over 40 years ago, but I’ve done pullups fairly regularly over the years. For example, on my 50th birthday, I did 19 pullups and 57 pushups to celebrate the year I was born.

Near the end of last year, I had some shoulder pain, so I stopped doing pushups and pullups, but I still went to the gym and did other exercises.

But my shoulder seemed to be better, and I was ready to start doing some good old pushups and pullups. My plan was to do three sets of each, alternating between the two exercises.

So I did a few pushups, and then I grabbed the pullup bar we have hanging between our kitchen and dining room. I immediately knew there was going to be a struggle. I felt like I was about 50 pounds overweight, even though I was only about five pounds over my normal weight.

I immediately abandoned my idea of doing three sets of five pullups.

Using every ounce of strength I had, I managed to do one pullup. That’s right. One. And I barely got my chin above the bar for that one.

I then did a few pushups, and got ready to try another pullup. Same as before, it took all my effort to complete one pullup.

I dropped to the floor to do my final set of pushups and returned to the pullup bar for my last set. In my mind, I did one more pullup, but if there was a video, it might show that I didn’t quite get my chin above the bar.

So I lowered myself to the ground, a broken man.

What had just happened?

All those years of working out, and I take a few months off, and this is what happens?

I had officially become a 98-pound weakling.

But I admit I was also excited.

Because there was nowhere to go, but up (literally and figuratively ๐Ÿ™‚ )

So I’ve already set a goal for myself of five straight pullups by my birthday in mid-September, and 10 by the end of the year.

I’ll give periodic updates on my progress.

My primary goal?

I just want to get to the point where I can go to the beach and no one will kick sand in my face…

*image from Masculinity Summit

46 thoughts on “Wow – I Didn’t Know That I Could Become a 98-Pound Weakling That Quickly

  1. So many things in life have changed, even the little things we have taken for granted! We have not been going to the gym since March. Even though we workout at home, I miss some of the stuff at the gym. I would hate to see how few assisted pull ups I could do now! (I can’t seem to do the real ones so need the machine!). I am not sure when I will feel comfortable at the gym again, but I love your attitude that you can only go up from 1!!! That is going to be my model!!!! BTW I would love to be a 98 pound weakling, agiain, well maybe not the weakling but I would love to see 98 pounds again!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yep, the only is up…Not for me, I cannot do push-ups let alone pull-ups to save my life…walking and running (sedately) is my forte…Oh if I tuck my toes under something I can do a pull up that way…The rest nada…Good Luck in avoiding the sand …

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have had some of those moments of “I used to be able to do this, but now I can’t.” Guys like you and I don’t give up easily. By the way, I started timing my planks after your post a while back, and I’m finally starting to see some progress. I’m not in your league by any stretch of the imagination, but any improvement is encouraging. It is curious why some exercises are easier for us than others. I don’t do pull-ups, but I never could do many when I did. Push-ups, on the other hand, come pretty easy for me. I knock out forty of those before I go to bed, and I feel like I can do more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve always liked to challenge myself physically, and find it hard to accept that I can’t do what I used to be able to do. As for the planks, I’m back at square one with those as well. And that’s funny with the pushups, they were never my strong suit… Impressive that you can do 40 without too much difficulty!


  4. Congratulations on sticking with your ambitious cardio routine. I’m sure the pull ups will be no problem. Making progress toward your goals should be fun. My herniated cervical disc that sets me back periodically. So I sort of know where you are coming from.


  5. I’m impressed with how physically fit you are, even if you could only do three pullups.

    I view exercises like pullups the same as a kid views algebra. I wonder when I would ever find a practical use for developing such an ability. So I just stick with the simple math of walking, and maybe a few situps and curls.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Jim, I am giving you full credit for the fact that you at least want to do pullups. A lot of guys our age have thrown in the towel on keeping any type of fitness. Strength is the opposite of weight. Hard to gain and easy to lose. Keep your chin up (so to speak), and that “don’t mess with me” beach body will be back in no time! Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m sorry, but I could not stop laughing, jim. I do admire your hard work leading up to this and getting your cardio in shape, and that’s really where my focus has been and need to add some strength training. I applaud you and at least you did one, I honestly am not sure I could even do that at this point in time. keep us posted and I might smirk at the way you explain it, but will never laugh at you, more with you. onward and upward!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If I didn’t laugh as well at my lack of strength, I’d cry. And I’ve always enjoyed cardio more than strength training. I wish you the best with your fitness routine, and feel free to laugh at me all you want, you wouldn’t be alone!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pull-ups are hard. I decided last fall I was going to get very good at pull-ups. I did them almost every day and got to the point where I could do 7 in a row. I felt really good about myself. Then I developed golferโ€™s elbow – a soreness of the tendons on the underside of the elbow. A classic overuse injury that takes a long time to heal. I havenโ€™t done a pull-up since February and, while my elbow is better, I still feel some pain. Be careful as you ramp up your pull-ups. I wish now I hadnโ€™t been so aggressive in my quest to conquer pull-ups.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bob! It’s great to hear from you. Pull-ups are hard. Did you get the elbow soreness from golfing or from doing the pullups?

      Do you plan to start doing pullups again once your elbow is 100%?


      1. The elbow problem is entirely related to doing pull-ups. It happened to me (on the opposite arm) around 10 years ago when I did P90X for the first time. I remember it took several months to get better.

        It has been better lately so I tried a pull-up yesterday and was sore afterwards. So I still need more time.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Should I tell you how many pull ups my husband and son do? LOL!
    But hey you do more than me!

    I am impressed with your workout routine! I do enjoy walking, thats my favorite exercise, not jogging and definitely not running, but walking. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. unless your husband or so do one or less, I don’t want to hear it… ๐Ÿ™‚

      and many people claim that walking is the best form of exercise – so good on you!


  10. Well Jim, I won’t even attempt to think of doing a pullup. These 64-year old arms will cry out with a “no way.” It’s good to see you exercising often with an effective weekly plan. I stay consistent with my morning walks (between 60-75 minutes with an occasional monster hike thrown in) and filling in with the indoor bike as needed. Keep it up man!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. sounds like you are doing a great job with the cardio. I’ve been doing my three sets of one pull-up each day now for a few days, and unfortunately, it has not gotten any easier!


  11. You have no idea the impact that cartoon had on me as a kid. Then Mac enrolls in the Charles Atlas dynamic tension routine, gets swoll, and punches that bully in the chin. The babe on the beach says “Oh Mac, you really are a man!” I remember it word for word even though I probably last read it when I was twelve.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s