There are many differences between the sexes. You’re unlikely to find a man dotting his “i”s with little hearts and putting little “x”s at the end of every note, or a woman who’ll turn her underwear inside out to get three more days wear out of them. (I’ve never done that by the way… probably…)
The same applies to exercise.
There’s no exercise more convenient, yet more effective than the push-up. It can be done practically anywhere, requires no equipment, and has about a million variations to make it consistently result producing. Yet in exercise classes everywhere, women are always encouraged to do push-ups on their knees.
You know. The “girly” way!
Understand this though: There’s nothing wrong with doing “girly” push-ups. In fact, a lot of people (men included) need to do them that way to get started. However, people can get stuck just doing this version, and never really progressing.
True, women are naturally at a disadvantage when it comes to upper body strength for a number of reasons, but ultimately, woman, man, or beast (alright, maybe not beast…) are all capable of doing proper, on-your-toes push-ups.
In the video below, I’m with one of my Worthing Personal Training clients, Lauren, who also couldn’t do a single full push-up literally just a couple of months back. However, Lauren’s been working really hard, has lost a load of weight and looks amazing as a result… and it’s her hard work ethic that’s gotten her to being strong enough to hit the deck and “give me 10”.
At the training session we did a few days before this one, she managed to bash out 10 slow and controlled reps, so we thought we’d see how many we could get with a bit of friendly pushing. The goal was 15.
Did she make it? One way to find out…
If you’re still doing “girly” push-ups, here’s my top tips to progressing to the real deal…
- Start from the bottom up – You’re around 40% stronger on the way down, so when working on your first push up, start from the floor. If you can get up, then you can get down again.
- Get your hands nice and wide – The closer your hands are, the less you can use the big muscles of your chest to help you and the more the smaller muscles in the back of your arms are having to pick up the slack. When you’re in the bottom position, your forearms should be roughly perpendicular to the floor.
- Start your set with full push-ups, then finish it with your knees down – I would suggest that doing one full push-up is better than doing three on your knees, and a good way to build up your strength is to start your set by doing full push-ups… even if that is one!
- Don’t stress about the little form points at the start – Ultimately, we want to be keeping our body dead straight (so keeping your bum down), keeping your head in line looking at the floor, keeping a slight bend in your elbows at the top, controlling your shoulder blade position… and I could list a whole more points. But right now, if you’re in the lower numbers, just concentrate on getting yourself off the floor!
Don’t sweat the minutia, it’s more important you get over that mental barrier of getting on your toes, and actually being able to just do normal push-ups. Confidence first, points for technique later. When you can do 15-20 comfortable full push-ups, start to work on the finer points. Until then, as a popular sports brand often says, “Just do it!”
Our goal for Lauren now is 20 before Christmas. Then we’ll start refining her form. If you’re still bashing them out on your knees, make your goal to do one. Then go for two. It can certainly take some work, but ultimately, the results are well worth it.
Just ask Lauren!