9 Strategies for Pullups and Pushups


If you were to ask me, “Hey Mikey, how much do you bench?”, my answer would be, “Hey, I don’t know and check this out – I don’t give a crap. How are you?”.

Honestly – how much I can bench doesn’t apply to my goals. My goal is to be healthy, lean and have enough energy to play with my son, Champ, especially as he gets older.

At some point, he’s going to be a wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers, and he will need someone to help him out in the backyard. That guy will be me. That way, when Cam Newton pulls a Brett Favre and enters his last season, he will throw a TD pass with 4 seconds left to Champ Whitfield, winning the Super Bowl 24-20.

Yeah. Baby.

But for now, it’s epic games of crawl chase (do not judge).

When it comes to athleticism and sculpting the body, there are 3 exercises that are a staple in my own workout programs, and yes, even the finishers.

These 3 exercises are like a lethal injection to belly fat and building lean, chiseled muscle, AND, unfortunately, they are well under-utilized.

Why? -because you can’t do that many if ANY.

Let’s fix that.

Don’t click yet just because it’s a different color – hold your horses.

First, let me be transparent here. I went to my friend, Shawna Kaminski, who I talk with just about every day, for these strategies to increase your numbers, even if it is to get to # 1.
You know how I obsess about finishers? She obsesses about increasing your pull-up, chin-up and push-up numbers.

These are just a few tips from Shawna, creator of Challenge Workouts:

The Pull-up and Chin-up

Nothing compares to chiseling your back and arms like pull-ups and chin-ups. You might be thinking, “But Mikey, I’m scared. I can’t do any pull-ups”.

Strategy # 1

Use “negatives”, but the big key is the starting position. Start by putting a small box or step below the chin-up/pull-up bar and jump and grab the bar. Keep your chest at the BOTTOM of the bar, and not the top.

Here’s why – when most people start off with their chin over the bar, they inwardly rotate their shoulders, causing damage. You want to keep your chest near the bottom part of the bar, and keeping your shoulders back and down, working your lat muscles.

Now take 5 seconds to lower yourself, FOCUSING on your lat muscles. Do as many reps as you can with the perfect form (keeping your shoulders back and down), even if it’s just one.

Now check out this quote from Shawna…

“As I’ve said before, the eccentric contraction of any movement is the strengthening portion of the movement. So many think that when doing a pull up, it’s the lifting or the concentric contraction that is the strengthening part of the movement.


It’s actually the lowering down from the bar under control that helps strengthen your muscles.”

Strategy # 2

“No power grip! – Make sure to maintain a loose grip on the bar, even though you’re hanging on for dear life. Loosening your grip will save your elbow joints from any radiating pain. I learned this the hard way by experiencing some elbow pain that I could have
avoided had I not done a ‘power grip’ on the bar and switched up my hand grips on occasion.”

Editor’s note – Cool info Shawna. Rock on, rock the casbah.

Strategy # 3

Incorporate DB Rows into your program on a consistent basis to work your abs and lats, along with your biceps. This will improve your pull-up/chin-up numbers as you progress and use heavier weights.

Bonus Strategy Superset

Do as many pull-ups/chinups as you can, followed by a set of lat pulldowns.

The Pushup

Every single one of my clients are going to have some kind of pushups in their programs. This is a must. This is one of the best “bang for your buck” exercises you can use to chisel your arms, shoulders and chest, giving you the lean, athletic look.

Strategy # 1

What most people don’t realize is that you work your core a lot
harder than you think when you perform pushups. So, get to
planking. Use a variety of planks in your workouts so that you
build up core endurance and strength, which will relate to better
pushup numbers.

Bonus tip – Increasing core strength will also improve your pull-up and chin-up numbers, too. Aim for a full minute on the plank.

Increase your core strength, and you’ll increase your pull-up numbers

Strategy # 2

Incorporate DB Chest Presses into your program, particularly the Neutral Grip Chest Press. When performing this exercise, focus on the “eccentric portion” of the movement. This is the lowering phase. So, take at least 3 seconds to lower the weight when performing the chest press.

Strategy # 3

The actual hand position on the pushup is important. Ensure that the thumb side of the hand is right beside the shoulders. If your hands are too narrow you’re going to be taxing the triceps and that won’t allow the shoulders and the chest to help out as much. The
head position is also important. Drop your head so that your eyes are just looking forward; you don’t want to be looking up too much because the hips will drop and if you drop the head too much the buttocks is going to go too high. You want to maintain a straight line from the ears to the shoulders to the hips and then to the toes.

The surprising exercise that will help with pushups is the dumbbell row. Many would think, “why would I do a row to help my pushup?”. Upper back and shoulder stability is really important in pushup. The dumbbell row is very helpful to develop this.

Bonus Strategy Superset

Do you want to increase your pushup numbers? Try using this superset strategy she uses with her clients – Do a set of pushups followed by a set of DB Chest Presses.

Cool stuff from Shawna

Confession time – Shawna can smoke me in pull-ups and push-ups. There, I said it. That’s why when I had 2 clients in my gym come to me about wanting to get their first pull-up, I told them to get this program.

=> DOMINATE YOUR PULLUP NUMBERS (even if it’s just one – c’mon, it’s time)

If you’re up to the challenge and you are serious, this is the blueprint you need to get 1, 10 or even 25 pull-ups and increase your pushups.

Shawna’s Birthday Gift to You=> Click here to discover how to increase your numbers 

Mikey, CTT


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Leave A Reply (4 comments so far)

  1. Shawna K
    11 years ago

    Thanks for sharing some great strategies for anyone to improve pull ups. Let’s hear it for more pull ups!

    • Mikey
      11 years ago

      Pull-ups for the win!

  2. LuAnna Foss
    11 years ago

    I would like to order Shawna’s info, but I keep getting and error and told to use another card. I don’t have another card and there is nnothing wrong with my debit/credit card! Who do I need to contact? I missed out on something I wanted to purchase last Friday too! Could someone help please? I don’t know if it’s just click bank or the link its self?

    LuAnna Foss

    • Mikey
      11 years ago

      Hi LuAnna, sorry to hear that. If you contact their support at shawna@challengeworkouts.com, they can look into it.