Women Can’t Do Pull-ups?

How to increase pull-ups

Guest Post by Shawna Kaminski,
Creator of Challenge Workouts

Pull up eh?

I say ‘eh?’ because I’m Canadian and proud of it.

I say ‘pull ups’ because I LOVE pull ups and I know that you’d like to be able to LOVE them too. You currently may ‘love to hate’ them, but I’d like to turn that around for you.

I’m Shawna K, Mikey’s ‘gal pal as he puts it. (Don’t get the wrong idea on that. Mike calls me his ‘gal pal’ to my face, but in private curses me for how I kick his southern butt around the block on the pull up bar.) By the way, I have no business being able to do a ton of pull ups. I’m nearly a half century old, seriously, on April Fool’s Day I turned 50. What 50 year old woman can do multiple sets of multiple reps of pull ups? What I’m trying to say, is that if I can do it, so can you. (And by that I mean Mikey, so man up dude… A challenge is on the way next time we’re together 😉

But you have to work at pull ups.

You have to work hard.

I laughed at a study that the University of Dayton did to ‘prove’ that women can’t do pull ups. It was published in several prestigious papers such as the New York Times. In the study, researchers took 17 women and put them on a three times per week resistance training plan. At the end of the twelve week study, not one of them could do a pull up. Researchers determined that for a variety of reasons, women could NOT do this impossible feat.


The only thing this study showed was that three time/week basic resistance training is NOT enough to challenge women, or anyone for that matter to achieve pull up success.

There are definite tips and tricks that you can use to improve your pull up power.

One of the tricks is eccentric training.

Most people focus on the positive, or the lifting phase of the movement. The focus for strength building should actually be on the negative or the lowering of the body from the pull up bar.

Here are two ways to work the negative:

If you include these exercises in your pull up program, you’re more likely to achieve pull up success.

Especially if you’re a woman, I implore you to get to the pull up bar and prove all those researchers wrong.

If you’d like more tips and tricks, like using body position to your best advantage, controlled cheating, and three levels of programming that will work the entire body to improve your pull ups and build a rock solid physique in the process, check out my program, Challenge Workouts.

About Shawna

Shawna Kaminski is a retired schoolteacher of 20 years who’s found her passion in the fitness industry. She’s parlayed her ability to teach and her love of training into programs that you can directly benefit from. Shawna is in her late forties, is a mother of two teenagers and understands how busy life can be. Her workouts are short and intense and often can be done anywhere. She’s always up for a challenge and shares her fitness challenges with you. Currently she runs her own fitness boot camps and coaches clients in person and online with her amazing result getting programs.

Watch Shawna knock out 20 pull-ups here

Leave A Reply (4 comments so far)

  1. Shawna K
    11 years ago

    Thanks for letting me share with the good people of your blog Mikey 😉

    I’d be happy to answer any questions on rockin’ the pull up bar that anyone has.

  2. Jackie
    11 years ago

    BAH! I’m a woman, I’m 48 and I’ve been doing pull-ups now for years. I busted my own PR recently by doing 100 pull-ups within the span of my 1 hour workout!! Pull-ups rock!

    Keep on kickin’ butt Shawna.

    btw, I’m also Canadian. Curious where in Cda you are! I’m in Vancouver.


  3. Shawna K
    11 years ago

    Fellow Canadian and pull up rock star! Great job on the 100 pull ups, most people won’t do that in a life time let alone an hour. I’m in Calgary, I hope our paths cross some day. Keep training hard!

  4. Mikey
    11 years ago

    Awesome stuff! Great inspiration!