Part 3 of 3: The Top Three Body Weight Exercises for Female Obstacle Racers

Number 3: The Jumping Pull-Up

by Joe Di Stenfano co-founder of Spartan Coaches

Click here for Part I:  Bowler Squat

Click here for Part II:  Reverse Bear Crawl


Because 8 foot walls, monkey bars, traverses, and festival challenges don’t conquer themselves.

Everyone makes mistakes. Sadly, the architect that drew up the blueprint for the homosapien female never foresaw a time where millions of women globally would have a need to do more pull-up variations in a weekend than they would produce babies in a lifetime. The anatomical disadvantages we have discussed in the last two posts in this series, created a species that since the dawn of creation has had much trouble with pull-ups. Fortunately, there are always things we can do.

The Jumping Pull-Up is going to allow almost anybody to crank out a set of ten pull ups in good form. In addition, it has complete carry over to racing since when you are climbing over the towering 8-foot walls, you will most likely begin with a jump.

Jumping Pull-Ups are going to provide two primary strength benefits to a female obstacle racer, upper body pulling and a whole lot of grip strength. Jumping pull-ups can be be done on tree branches, walls, playground equipment, and of course, on chin-up bars. This flexibility allows Jumping Pull-Ups to be trained with varying hand positions, grip widths, and grip circumferences. Exposing the grip to variations in training, especially under the load of one’s own body weight, is going to become important to reducing the risk of elbow tendonitis on race day, one of Spartan Race’s most common injuries.

In addition, Jumping Pull-ups are going to be a fantastic compliment to the other two exercises in this series, hereby completing a total body workout specifically designed for Spartan Races in just three simply, body weight maneuvers.

To recap, because women anatomically have a larger “Q-angle”, a more anteriorly (or forward) tilted pelvis, and a larger percentage of body weight held below the midsection, they often times require specialized lower body, core, and upper body training. Female training should begin around strengthening the hips and move up to the core and upper body. Exercises such as the Bowler Squat, can reduce unwanted or excessive medial (inward) rotation and adduction (knee caving inwards) of the femur (thigh bone), as well as help to equalize the pelvis’s forward tilt to a more neutral one, both of which will reduce stress on the knees. The Reverse Bear Crawl is going to train a woman’s core function and reflex, as well as add tremendous stability, strength, and “injury proofing” to the upper body. Finally, the Jumping Pull-Up is going to balance out this increased pressing strength in the upper body and develop very functional grip strength to help a women conquer even Spartan Race’s most challenging obstacles.

12 Responses

  1. avatar

    I understand and appreciate this series of post, and I thought that this kind of sex-specific training useful, and your posts are well-documented.
    I often find these kinds of female-targeting training a bit cringe-worthy (weight-loss driven, toning up, not “bulking up”, staying feminine and classy blah blah blah) and I thought yours were quite refreshing.
    But come on, comparing female body to an architectural mistake and a baby factory? How worse can you do?
    I understand that female and male bodies are DIFFERENT, but implying that ours is somehow lesser is insulting, to say the least.
    By the way: making a female-specific series of post imply that the other posts are for male, by default, which is kind of problematic. I am therefor looking forward to a series of posts focussing on male-specific shortcomings.

  2. avatar

    Any videos or pics on form for the jumping pull-up ? I don’t see anything describing what it is.

  3. avatar

    Hello! As a personal trainer who works at correcting muscle imbalances and stabilizing the core and pelvis, I have really appreciated the 4-week series on preventing female athlete injuries. However, I have a bit of advice to make the articles sound less like “You’re a woman so you suck,” which I am well aware is not your intention!

    Speaking about the female form as though it is inferior is a discredit to the female form. We are not anatomically disadvantaged; we are anatomically different. That difference is what makes us have to train in certain ways to save our knees and hips and back when we decide that we want to Spartan (Aroo!). However, that difference is also usually what makes us better at endurance (muscle fiber type distribution and a higher body fat percentage in general) and probably the most difficult task ever (growing and birthing a feeding a human). The fact that we can Spartan as well should make us in awe of ourselves (and maybe inspire others), not feel sorry for us for being ‘genetically disadvantaged.’

    Alright, tangent complete. Thank you, Spartan Racing, for being mindful of our anatomical differences and helping females everywhere prevent injuries and feel empowered. Keep up the good work in general, and bring another Spartan Race to VA!! Aroo!!

  4. avatar

    are jumping pull-ups better for starters than assisted pull-ups on machines?

  5. avatar

    I have to agree with Michelle’s statement above. While there are differences in the make up of men and women we are created to make, carry and birth another human being. I can see this article is degrading to women and has me actually rethinking if I even want to give my money to Spartan races. I was planning in the trifecta 2014 and have ready registered for two if the races.
    We should really be encouraging everyone!! Not putting people down
    Thank you! I didn’t think Spartans did that Joe

  6. avatar

    100% Agreed with Michelle. I love the workout advice and appreciate what you guys are doing. Women ARE built differently than men and we do need to train differently sometimes, so your tips are very helpful. Still, “the anatomical disadvantages” do not exist because good training and determination means that women can conquer a Spartan, too.

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  8. avatar

    Very nice Michelle!

  9. avatar

    I am not seeing the jumping pull up….only the bowler squat and reverse bear crawl.

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