Moving Away from ‘Girl’ Push Ups. Personal Training Chichester
Amongst the many fallacies and myths that perpetuate the fitness and training industry, the notion that females must perform ‘girl’ push-ups is one of the most commonly seen. The ‘girl’ push-up is the perfect example of this out-dated thinking,suggesting that limitations exist based upon a person’s gender.
More often than not, a female client of any personal trainer arrives to her first session having performed close to zero ‘conventional’ push-ups (from this point on I will refer to them simply as “push-ups”). At this point the trainer faces their first dilemma: to spend time working on push-ups, or just prescribing more ‘girl’ push-ups and hoping it never becomes an issue. I can understand why the latter may be more appealing. Push-ups aren’t sexy. They won’t get anybody more likes on social media, and nobody asks “how much ya push-up bro?”. However, I would offer the opinion that the basic nature of the push-up is why we could all do with taking the time to master it. This blog post aims to provide some simple steps and advice on how to go about conquering the push-up, using simple techniques I have employed during personal training sessions out of my Chichester facility.
Before I begin, I would like to thank Jacqui for allowing me to use her as my case study. Jacqui is a 50-year-old woman who has been a client of mine for 11 months, working with me in Chichester and getting plenty of work done at home too. After spending time on these steps, Jacqui went from performing 0 push-ups to now comfortably busting out sets of 8-10 with no assistance and no problem. This is purely down to the amount of practice and hard work she puts in both in and outside of the gym.
Step 1: Get past the awkward “you don’t know how to do push-ups” conversation.
Many female gym-goers have never performed a push-up simply because they never knew it was an option for them. Having been told to perform a ‘girl’ variation for X number of years, pointing out that with some hard work and belief it is do-able is often the biggest step. It’s not your fault; but now you know that it is a possible (and considerably more beneficial) option, we can begin to conquer it.
Step 2: Strengthen that anterior core.
Most exercises are grouped into body parts. Whilst for some this holds true (bicep curls do work your biceps) for many movements this simply does not. To call the push-up a “chest” exercise is to remove the notion that anything else may be helping or hindering. More often than not, we lack strength through our trunk (think hips/abs/lower back), which makes stabilising our spine the issue. Strong abs are the priority. Chuck those crunches and sit-ups out the window and start working on various plank and deadbug variations.
Step 3: Get some help.
I wouldn’t expect a new client to bench press 200kg, so I wouldn’t throw them under that weight, and if someone has never performed a full push-up before, I wouldn’t expect them to start the next day. The bottom position (where your torso is closest to the floor), is the most challenging part of the exercise. Grab a resistance band and place it underneath you. As you lower yourself it will stretch and effectively make you lighter. As you get stronger you can lower where the band is fixed, change it for a smaller one, or remove it completely!
Step 4: Practice, practice, practice.
Performing a few partial push-ups once a week is a surefire way to not making any progress. Try performing lots of mini-workouts throughout the day and week. Performing 1 push-up (band assisted or not), 5x a day, 5x a week comes to a total of 25 per week (my maths isn’t great so let me know if I’m way off). The next week do 2 in place of 1 – and all of a sudden you are doing 50 a week! Think total numbers: performing 1 set of 5 every week is a lot less work than 50 individual reps.
Step 5: Get that top position right.
Don’t let your lower back and hips sag down to the ground. Picture 1 = bad, picture 2 = much better.
Step 6: Give it time.
As the saying goes – good things come to those who wait. Don’t expect perfect push-ups to happen overnight. Being able to perform them correctly is a badge that not many (males and females) can wear. Push-ups take incredible strength through the arms and trunk, require healthy shoulders and courage to face the feeling that you may end up face-planting the floor if you can’t get back up! There is absolutely no reason as to why YOU cannot perform them. Butchering push-ups with sloppy technique and partial reps is something we have all been guilty of. So if your push-ups don’t look like this:
Then you need to get practicing!
Are you looking to improve your push-ups? Contact Davies Training, qualified coach and trainer, for all personal training enquiries. Based in Chichester. Lets’ talk.