Shawna here is an expert when it comes to progressively improving pushup and pullup performance in women so I thought it would be best to have her guide you.

If you remember a couple of days back I shared with you all a video of me giving my best effort to two super-popular bodyweight exercises i.e Pushups and Pullups.

And after looking through the comments received from you all and seeing the eagerness and drive to do better, I thought of bringing in an expert of this area to speak to you directly.

Everyone…Meet Shawna Kaminski, retired school teacher turned fitness professional and mother of two teenagers in her late forties.

Shawna Kaminski

Shawna here is an expert when it comes to progressively improving pushup and pullup performance in women so I thought it would be best to have her guide you. Over to you Shawna…


Pull Up – Start Somewhere

Guest blog  by Shawna Kaminski

Shawna - Challenge Workouts

Pull up?

Maybe to a drive through…

That may be the only place some people feel confident of pull up success. I get many quizzical looks when folks hear that I can do multiple sets of multiple reps of pull ups.

Hey, I’m Shawna Kaminski, also known as the ‘Pull Up Queen’. I have no business being able to do this feat. After all, I’m just a nearly a half century old mother of two. I’ve never been a Cirque de Soleil performer or gymnast of any sort. What I’m saying is that since I can do pull ups, you can too.

But it takes lots of effort. Serious effort.

Don’t think that you can use the assisted pull up machine and graduate to the pull up bar. That machine only gives the illusion of doing pull ups.

Instead, you need to do pull ups to get better at them. Sort of a catch 22 wouldn’t you say?

But assisted pull ups, especially band pull ups, are really a great way to eventually succeeding at the accomplishment of an unassisted pull up.

Another key to success is learning to engage the proper muscles. A simple exercise called ‘scapular retraction’ is a brilliant way to ‘find’ the stronger muscles of the back. Many try to muscle their way up to the pull up bar with the arms. This will get you no where fast, (except perhaps a physical therapist evenutally).

The scap retraction is done by simply hanging from the bar. Keep the arms extended, look up, squeeze the shoulder blades together and watch how you can ‘magically’ elevate yourself a few inches. This is the start of the pull up.

Here’s a video explaining the scapular retraction and a beginner workout:

The mini-circuit looks like this:

10 assisted pull ups (use a band or jump or step up pull up)
10 per arm DB rows
Repeat up to 3 times

Follow with 2 sets of hanging leg raises to strengthen the core.

You won’t be rocking the pull up bar in a week. Give yourself time. If by a month you haven’t succeeded, guess what? It’s going to take longer, but with relentless effort and a solid plan you WILL be able to do a pull up. Nothing worth having comes easy and this applies to moves like the pull up, muscle up, human flag etc. By the way, once you get your first pull up, your second to fifth will come A LOT easier. It’s a matter of form and you’ll be well on your way once you get one.

If you need a little help, I have you covered. You can check out Challenge Workouts to get a plan whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced trainee. You’ll find a full body balanced program with an emphasis on building upper body strength so that the pull up is within your reach.

Challenge Workouts


I hope you all will apply what Shawna has taught you. I have and that itself helped me progress from just one pullup to almost 5 (as shown in the video I shared with you a few days back).

Give it a shot and let me know how it helps you by dropping a comment below:



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