I hate girl push-ups with a passion of a thousand hell-fires. I feel emasculated when asked to do a “girl version” of a push-up because they make you look like a crippled mermaid, they’re kinda weak, and I’m also not a girl anymore. For those of you who don’t know what a girl-push up is, a.k.a. modified push-up or knee push-up, please reference the picture above. And if you’ve only heard them referenced as modified push-ups good for you, I have not been so lucky.
Normally I don’t like the idea of associating the word “girl” with anything negative. But I really don’t like being told to do “girl” things when I’m a grown woman. Just like I hate it when I first work out with a trainer and he/she attempts to give me the pastel pink weights that are 2 lbs, without asking about my abilities, just because I’m a woman. How do you think a man would feel if he was asked to do “boy push-ups” or was immediately handed pastel blue weights?
So imagine how angry I became when I found out that girl push-ups (GPUs) would never get me to the point where I could do a regular push-up. Why oh why was I suffering through doing those stupid things, looking like a dang fool, when there was hardly any benefit to doing them and they wouldn’t get me to my manly goal? I have a new goal, which I would love for ya’ll to adopt as well: Eradicate the word “girl push-up” from your vocabulary. Replace that term with “lame-o non-push-ups”, because that’s what they are.
The issue with GPUs is that they aren’t push-ups. Therefore, if your goal is to strengthen the muscles necessary to eventually perform a push-up, you’ll never get there by doing GPUs. It’s like trying to increase your endurance as a runner by walking.
GPUs vs. Push-Ups
To drive my point home a bit better, here’s a list of the muscles (not using their technical names) utilized during a regular push-up:
- Upper back
- Lower Back
- Shin Muscles
Your body uses all these muscles during a regular push-up because it needs to maintain a rigid plank position whilst moving up and down, meaning that you’re required to be straight and tight from your neck to your toes.
GPUs work the following muscles somewhat:
Also keep in mind that when you do a regular push-up, your body needs to fight gravity against your entire body weight. With GPUs, you’re cutting that resistance in half by placing your lower body on the ground. The few muscles you’re using during a GPU aren’t working nearly as hard because of this. They’re just such a waste of time! Yet if you Google “How to Work Your Way up to Push-ups”, the advice you’ll see repeated most often is to start with GPUs. Ignore…that….regurgitated…crap.
Let me ask all the ladies a question who’ve tried graduating from GPUs to push-ups: How’s that working out for ya? You doing only push-ups now? I DIDN’T THINK SO.
So enough with the ranting and on to the solution. How is it possible to become stronger and get to the point of doing push-ups if you’re not currently strong enough to do one? Well let me learns ya. The trick is to mimic the exact position of a push-up while simultaneously relieving yourself of some of your body weight. That way you can gradually build up the muscles required for a regular push-up at your own pace.
Modified Push-up Options
This is the easiest version to start with and everyone has a wall somewhere right? Stand in front of a wall at about a 90 degree angle and place your hands on the wall as if you’re going to do a push-up. Then lower yourself, towards the wall until your face is almost touching it, keeping your core tight, and then push yourself back up again. Do as many as you can, keeping count of course. If you get to the point where you can do more than 20 of these without tiring, it’s time to move onto the next level.
The following items can be used for angled push-ups depending on your strength level: Couch, table, kitchen counter, chair, or a workout bench. The item you use should be around knee to waist level. You’ll want to stand back far enough so that you can lower your body diagonally onto the couch/bench with your arms. The cool thing about this version is that you can gradually increase your resistance by lowering the item you’re using. For instance, start with the kitchen counter, then move on to a couch, then use a block or stair. Again, do as many reps as you can, but once this starts getting easy for you, it’s finally time to move on to the next awesome step. A real-life, gender-blind push-up.
Basically do everything you were doing previously except on the floor. You’ll want to keep your core tight and your hands shoulder-width apart, fingers pointing forward. Raise yourself off of the ground, keeping elbows slightly bent at the top, and then lower yourself all the way to the ground until your chest is almost touching the floor. Bam! Easier than pie folks!
Why do Push-ups Anyhow???
Push-ups are one of the best all-around exercises out there. As previously mentioned, they work practically all of your muscle groups in one move. So why use machines in the gym, torture devices that are made to isolate specific muscles and increase your workout time ten-fold (also they’re filthy), when you could do one exercise working all those muscles at once? It’s all about working smarter, not harder.
And seriously ladies, if I hear one more woman say, “Well I don’t want to do strength training because I don’t wanna look bulky” I will punch her repeatedly in her weak face with my strong push-up arms.
First of all, way to live your life caring more about how you look than your health and safety. Considering how likely a woman is to be attacked, robbed, raped, etc., it would be beneficial to women to stop caring so much about looking dainty and start caring more about being a strong, kick-ass force to be reckoned with.
Second, it’s impossible for women to get as bulky as men because of the hormones we have in our body. If you’ve seen bulky-looking female body builders, it could be because A. They’re popping the steroids, taking crazy supplements, and/or training every day for years or B. They work out all the time and eat like crap. For instance, when I used to do Crossfit, I’d see women in class who looked “bulky” and wondered why they looked that way. Then I’d hear them talking about running to Trudy’s to get tacos and margaritas post-workout, and I understood. If you mostly do strength training and eat like crap, you will gain muscle but retain most of the fat. The fat laying over the muscle will give you the appearance of looking bulky.
Finally, there are sooooo many health benefits of working strength training into your workout routine, so why wouldn’t you do it? And now that you know how to work your way up to a proper push-up, you have no excuse.