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When someone talks about a ‘girl’s push up’ they are typically referring to the version of the exercise where the knees are placed on the ground. The term, however, implies that this type of push up is for the girls only. In reality, this variant is the first progression to being able to do a standard push up from the feet. The term ‘girl’s push up’ was coined because it was believed that girls were too weak to be able to do a full push up from the feet. In reality, there are plenty of guys that have difficulty with this exercise and end up doing it with very bad form. Nowadays, the term ‘modified push up’ is also used for this version which is a much more appropriate name but I do still hear it being referred to as ‘girl’s push ups.’ It’s important to execute the exercise using proper form so as to minimize the chances of injury. There are plenty of guys (and girls) that are far better off doing the exercise from the knees; once they have successfully mastered this with proper form they can then move onto the next progression.

It is really no different than weight training. Does one go to the gym on their first day and stack a bunch of weight on the bar to perform a bench press? If they just used the bar to bench press with, is it considered a ‘girl’s bench press?’ Of course not! An individual can only press what he/she is capable of doing. As the individual gets stronger, he/she can then put more weight on the bar.

How about the TRX and aeroSling suspension trainers? When doing a chest press, is there a spot for girls to place their feet that is different than where the guys place theirs? No. The placement of the feet is simply a change in the leverage point. The farther back your feet, the greater the difficulty of the exercise.

Doing a push up from the knees only changes the leverage point for the exercise making it that much easier. As an individual gets stronger, the leverage point can then be changed by getting off the knees. For those that are still struggling, the hands can be placed on an elevated step or even a wall. The elevation can then gradually be decreased as one becomes proficient with the exercise thus ensuring it is done with proper form.

A couple of common mistakes:

  • Body sags in the middle. Your body should be in one straight line. Engage your abs and clench your butt cheeks
  • Head droops down or head is higher up than the body. Your head should be in line with your body. Look slightly forward as you do the exercise.

It is a good idea to have someone there to tell you if you are doing the exercise properly and if they can see these mistakes. Better yet, have them film you so that you can see for yourself. Don’t let your ego get in the way. If you really are struggling to do the exercise WITH GOOD FORM, drop down to your knees (yes boys, you too!)

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