Why you shouldn’t fear push ups

Why you shouldn’t fear push ups and why I encourage women to ditch the ‘ladies’ version.

Whenever I start training a new female client, I ask them what their least favourite exercises are and if they have a no go zone. Without fail I hear the following:”Push ups and skipping (until they are introduced to burpees!).” Both skipping and burpees I can deal with, they are both amazing high intensity cardio options which can easily be substituted. There are lots of other options that don’t make your boobs bounce as much or irritate your bladder. Push upsĀ on the other hand are mistaken as a butch boy’s club exercise. It’s almost as if we are socially conditioned to ignore the benefits of such an amazing exercise than can be done anywhere, at anytime.

The push up is predominantly a chest and tricep exercise, but several other muscle groups have to work to move your body up and down as you hold your own body weight. It is an excellent total body workout that recruits plenty of primary movers and stabilisers.

It might be true that women have about 40-60% of the upper body strength of men but that doesn’t mean women can’t perform a push up and look good doing it! Never ever feel self conscious doing a push up.

Here are some steps to building up to a push up:

  1. Practice against a wall: start by standing arms length away from a wall and count as many push ups as you can do against the wall. Once you can do up to 20 reps you are ready to move to the next step.
  2. Practice angled push ups: Find a bench, table, step or counter that are knee to waist high (the steeper the angle, the easier the push up). Stand back far enough so that you can lean your body diagonally on to the bench and are comfortably holding yourself up with your arms. If you can watch yourself sideways in a mirror, this will help you self correct your form. Technique is always more important than repetition. Make sure you keep a straight line from your ankles to your hips to your shoulders. Keep your hands wider than shoulder width. Don’t let your bum get left behind tilting to the ceiling and remember to pull your belly button to your spine. Once again work up to a rep count of at least 20 before moving to step 3.
  3. Ladies push ups: Start on your knees with your feet together. Folding the elbows and lowering your chest to the floor. Remember all the same pointers of alignment from step 2. Building up to 20 reps. You’re ready to attempt the full push up!
  4. Graduating to a full push up: From ladies push ups all it really takes is performing the same movement from your feet. Extend your legs, just like the picture above and lower your body keeping your ankles, hips and shoulders in line. Build up slowly, even if you start with 5 full push ups followed by 5 ladies until you can do 10 full push ups.

Well done! Now that was challenging but certainly not impossible! Look out for other upcoming blogposts about other body weight favourites like triceps dips and my other favourite: PULL-UPS.