Q and A Aug 17, 2012

challenge workout

The other day at the gym, I saw one dude trying to teach another dude
how to squat. I was doing a squat/skip/push up/barf (not really but
almost) combination.


It was a painful process watching this dude. He just was NOT getting it.


The key that the teaching dude was forgetting to tell the beginner was
that the head controls the spine in the squat. Simply by looking UP
you’ll avoid dropping the head which will result in bending at the waist
once you get tired.


When ever you squat, always look upwards, don’t let the chin tuck into
the chest. If you do this, and concentrate on keeping the abs tight, rocking
back on the heels (so that you could actually wiggle your toes), your squat
will be golden.


Finally I just had to say something. In my gym, I keep my head down
and my ear buds in at all times. No one knows me from Adam, which is
exactly how I like it. My advice seemed to be taken with the spirit with
which it was given – merely just to help and not to be a know it all or anything.


The dude lifted up his head and voila…his squat magically got more
comfortable. He was just using the Olympic bar, but he was ready
to add a little weight after that.


They thanked me, I continued to get my workout on and someone
else learned how to develop a nice booty and powerful legs.


I have a few Q and A’s from readers below.


Send me your questions and I’ll be happy to help you out.


challenge workouts

HI Shawna!

I have a question…


I do not exercise regularly…with a job in the skilled trades, it is not strictly necessary to exercise regularly to maintain muscle.  I am looking to start the push-up/pull-up challenge (just because I want to!)…you recommend working out every other day, with no strength training on the “day off”.  My question is, considering my job, would you change your recommendation at all?  The work I would do on a daily basis would consist of hauling stone/concrete/lumber/drywall/tile or anything else that you would lug around while renovating or landscaping…there really is no “day off”.

I’m looking forward to starting your program, and I look forward to any advice you have to give!
Thanks in advance,


Hi Theresa
Thanks for getting my program. I”m excited for you as you’re probably already very strong, it’s a matter of learning how to put that strength to work to do pull ups.
My suggestion for you is to listen to your body. You’ll likely want to train a day, take a day off in between. Then every so often you’ll need to take two days off depending on your work. Sometimes you’re just going to be too fatigued to get a resistance training workout in. If you’re not excited and have some energy to bring to your workout, back off. I suggest trying to get in 3 workouts a week, however that looks with your work schedule. Many people mistake ‘busy’ work for ‘training’. I’m not saying your work is ‘busy’ work. I’m talking about those people that walk or are on their feet. Your job is intense by the sounds of it. For those that have light energy expenditure, walking etc, they can do the program as prescribed and training will actually energize and strengthen them. For you, you need to guard against over use issues with work and then again with training, doing the same thing/action/movement day in and day out. Pay attention to joints and aches and pains. Don’t let them get out of hand before you seek medical attention, rest more and ice even if you have something severe.

Does that help? Keep me posted. Shawna

Hey Shawna

I was reading through the Pull Up program last night to familiarize myself with the exercises.

Is the assisted pull-up in the workout the one demonstrated in the “Jump Assist Pull Up” in the video?



Hey Lenny,


Good question as others may wonder how I’ve organized the videos. All videos are alphabetized. (The jump assisted pull up is in the tenth row from the top.)Let me know how I can help you, good luck,






How are you settling in to your new house? Hope you are
doing well, unpacking without stress and starting to feel like this
place is home.
I have started doing your in-the-gym program for
getting to my first pullup. It is killing me! I am really weak in my
upper body, so it is all quite challenging. I have had incredibly sore
muscles in the strangest places, first on the insides of my elbows,
then just below there on the insides of my forearms and yesterday just
above the insides of my elbows.I just did Workout 3 yesterday and I
was basically unable to lower myself down from the top position of the
pullup without assistance because of extremely sore muscles under my
ribcage. That was yet another new and odd place for me to hurt! Anyway,
I used a step to help me ease my way up and down without having to
clamp down with my stomach muscles so much.After the workouts, I come
home, eat and collapse in my bed, my arms too tired to even hold a book
and read. I just pass out, although I seem to be fine the next day. I
guess I’m telling you all this because I want to hear that I’m doing
things right and these sorenesses are normal and will eventually go
away! 🙂


How was your trip to Europe? Next time try Italy, the food and the service are
much better here and the people are 1000 times friendlier!


Dear Sara
Good to hear from you!

Your soreness is totally normal. Keep in mind that you want the soreness to be bilateral and in the muscle belly and not in the joint. If it’s only on one side or in the joint (shoulder/elbow), then this isn’t normal and you need to take care and possibly get medical attention, at the very least, you need to rest longer.I didn’t get to Europe this summer. I just returned from New York city, that was a trip and a half. So interesting to see how people live (on top of each other, holy crowdedness!)I”m so happy in my new condo, thanks for asking. A great start for me.Keep me posted on your progress, you’re doing everything right!


Hey Shawna! I have a question about getting a fantastic booty. I know that hamstring exercises, squats, and lunges are great for the lower part of my glutes and lateral movements are good for the side parts. My question is this: how do I build the upper part? I want a great curve just below my lower back. Thanks for your time.


Dear CR
Remarkably all the exercises you listed will build the part of your butt that you describe. I know what you’re talking about….


 challenge workout
(This is NOT borderline porn, this is a lesson in anatomy people…)


Now, it’s sort of like saying that ‘crunches work the upper abs’ and ‘leg raises work the lower abs’. In fact, the abs fire when doing both of these exercises. Just like when you squat, your gluteus minimus, medius and maximus all fire.


If you want a nice booty, squat, squat and oh by the way, did I mention to squat?


Sometimes the squat gets a bad rap. If your booty is getting bigger, it will most likely be a poor diet that you’re eating that’s the culprit, and not the almighty squat. Yes, you want to build a little muscle tone in your derriere, but heavy squats and clean eating will be more likely to just shape your back side and not make it explode out of your pants. If your bum and thighs are bursting out of your jeans, check out what you’re eating.


To sum it up, to build a better booty? My suggestion is to work on the squat, adding in lunges as a secondary movement. Then of course, you need to get rid of the flub, so throw in some burpees for good measure. Anything that gets your heart rate pounding and metabolism stoked will help. Check out this squat workout for fun.


You could easily finish your leg workout with one of Mike Whitfields’ 3 Minute Finishers (on sale today until midnight for only $7). These are awesome mini circuits that toast you up and help melt off your fat.