Look at how unhappy she looks!
Look at how unhappy she looks!


Short Attention Span Sum Up:

  1. Don’t waste your time with “girl” push-ups. They don’t train the same muscles as a regular push-up so what’s the point?
  2. Scroll down to “Modified Push-up Options” if you want to skip my rant and learn about better modifications that will get you to perform regular push-ups fast!

Girl push-up rant

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 (I’m a dang old lady). Perhaps in our somewhat enlightened age, you have not heard the term girl push-up, 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 2 lb pastel pink weights, 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 (lol) 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 “Not-a-good-push-up-modification”, because that’s what they are.

The issue with GPUs is that they don’t increase strength in the same muscles required for an O.G. (original gangsta for all my older readers) pushup. 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 utilized during a regular push-up:

  • Biceps
  • Shoulders
  • Chest
  • Upper back
  • Abdominals
  • Lower Back
  • Quadriceps
  • Triceps
  • Hamstrings
  • 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 to a lesser degree:

  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Chest
  • Abdominals
  • Back


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 reducing that resistance 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…caca-doodle-doo.

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

Wall push-ups wall-push-up

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.


Angled push-upangled-pushup

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 the 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.

Decline push-up

Probably the last step before the grand finale of push up would be to attempt decline push-upsImage result for decline push up. Though to some they may look more challenging then a regular push-up, you may be surprised if you give it shot.  Though this lady is using a fancy pants expensive gym work out bench feel free to use any stable object in your home.


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 if you’re healthy and strong enough to attempt these, it would be more efficient to do push-ups as opposed to spending 10x the time isolating each muscle individually on workout machines. 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, please don’t 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. In addition, increasing muscle mass improves bone health, insulin resistance, and metabolic rate. Trust me, you want dem muscles. 

Second, it’s practically impossible for women to get as bulky as men because of the different hormones we have in our bodies. If you’ve seen bulky-looking female bodybuilders 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 but eat like crap. For instance, when I used to do Crossfit, I’d see women who looked “bulky” and thought they looked that way because they were lifting so much weight. 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 continue adding fat. The fat will blanket the muscle in a cozy, cushioning layer, giving you the appearance of looking bulky.

Awkward yeti is the cutest comic ever!!!


Finally, there are sooooo many health benefits of adding 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.