Let’s Just Call Them Pushups
What is a “girl push up”? The answer is simple - a “girl pushup” DOES NOT exist. Society has twisted the concepts of “modified” and “regression” and, instead of viewing the modified pushup as a useful tool towards progression and perfecting technique, society views it as an exercise for someone too weak to perform a classic pushup; hence, a “girl pushup”.
This view goes far further than just pushups; it goes deeper into all “girlie-considered” exercises, or “the manly areas” of strength; however, for today, we shall address the concept of “pushups”.
To set things straight, a modification or a regression can and should be used by anyone at any given level, whether you are a beginner, an intermediate, or an expert. You are neither weak nor feminine for doing pushups from an incline, on your knees, or with aid from a resistance band.
A classic pushup, the “pushup”, is an upper body exercise that is performed by a person facing prone to the floor. While keeping their back straight and core tight, they use their upper body strength to push their body up while maintaining a straight body line. A pushup is both a hard and difficult exercise to execute properly. Its successful execution is independent from how old, how tall, or how much you weigh.
I am sure a lot of you have seen many variations of pushups in the gym: the conventional half-pushups where the arms are not fully bending and where the chest is well off the floor; or, the banana-back pushup where only the upper half of the body moves while the lower half stays arched and stationary. The point is that there are many people claiming they can do a proper pushup when in reality, they can’t. They would benefit from a regression or modification pushup as a means to practise proper technique and to strengthen the correct muscle groups that a classic pushup requires.
This is the problem! Although they would benefit from doing a modified pushup, they refuse to do so as it is viewed as a “girl pushup”. It comes as no surprise that individuals who want to appear strong in the gym stay away from perceived “girl” exercises and instead, push themselves improperly to perform a classic pushup, despite the likelihood of injury. I’m not pointing fingers - this applies to both men and women. We all have egos, we all love to look and feel strong, and too many are too close-minded to take the necessary steps to actually becoming strong safely and intelligently.
To shine some light on the topic, I incorporate modified pushups in my workout regiment. Am I fully capable of classic pushups? Yes, I am. Am I fully capable of a variety of modified pushups? Again, yes, I am. I utilize modified pushups for various reasons: I want to focus on correct technique, change the tempo of my exercise, and to work on my explosiveness, to name just a few. I am sharing this not because I want you to know I can do “cool” classic pushups, but more so for you to see and understand that an expert like me can and should do a modification, and it does not make me look weak. It will not make you look weak, either.
A message to my strong ladies out there, especially those who are just beginning their fitness journey: DO NOT let this preconception of “girl pushup” limit your aspirations in the gym. Just because some exercises are deemed “feminine” does not mean you should feel limited. Aim for classic technique in all exercises. Create and follow a program that you are passionate about. Set
goals for yourself that are unique and challenging; and do not feel constricted to just donkey kicks or modified pushups, for example, because you’re a “girl”. Push yourself and you can and will accomplish SO MUCH.
A message to my strong men out there: DO NOT steer away from “girl” exercises as they shall benefit you in more ways than you can imagine. Modified pushups can help with your classic pushup technique. Assisted chin-ups can help you break through that plateau to consistently hit 10 reps every set. And, lateral band walks can wake-up those under-active glutes you have from sitting all day.
My overall message to both men and women: DO NOT limit yourself to what you think you should or should not be doing in the gym. Focus on yourself, your goals, and your body. There are no exercises that are made just for women or just for men. We all have personalized goals, and how we achieve them is unique unto ourselves and absolutely not determined by our gender.
- Lebert Fitness