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Are Girl Push-Ups Just as Effective as Regular Push-Ups?


The "girl push-up" is a variation on the classic push-up that is often used by those who are not yet strong enough to do proper push-ups. They're much easier on the body and muscles, but are they as effective as the regular ones?

Why You Might Do "Girl Push-Ups"

The name "girl push-ups" is, in itself, highly offensive and a total misnomer. Women who regularly train can easily strengthen their muscles to the point of doing regular push-ups. They were only called "girl push-ups" by people who mocked women for being weak. In this day and age, that notion has gone out the door!

So who might end up doing girl push-ups?

  • Those lacking strength -- If your arms, chest, or core can't handle the strain of doing regular push-ups, doing them on your knees helps to reduce the load.
  • Those recovering from injuries -- Regular push-ups can be hard on the muscles worked, but the reduced load makes it easier to work out during recovery.
  • Those with musculoskeletal problems -- If you have weak wrists, shoulders, knees, or back, you'll find that the lightened load of the push-ups on your knees is easier on your joints.
There are times when it's advised to do push-ups on your knees, but is the exercise as effective?

Sadly, the answer is no.

While the form of the girl push-up allows you to do more work with less resistance, the truth is that this variation of the push-up is almost too easy for it to be considered a proper workout. Not only do you take the strain off your chest and arms, but you reduce the amount of work your core has to do. Push-ups are a great core workout, but doing this variation limits the exercise your abs and back muscles get. What was once an epic, full-body workout becomes something that only focuses on the arms and chest.

"Girl push-ups" are also pretty hard on your knees. Unless you're doing push-ups on a Yoga mat or a thick pad, your knee joints are pressing against the floor. This can be painful, and it can actually lead to knee injuries if you're not careful.

What's the Alternative?

If you can't do a proper push-up (for one of the reasons listed above), there is an alternative to consider: Incline Push-Ups.

With Incline Push-Ups, you place your hands on a bench, chair, or box to do the push-up. Your head is elevated to the same angle as it would be with a girl push-up, but you maintain that full body tension and keep a proper load on your chest and arm muscles.

You can increase or decrease the incline according to your ability. If you are having a very hard time with regular push-ups, you can raise the incline to reduce the load on your muscles, transferring it to your legs. If you are close to doing proper push-ups, use a very short incline to increase the load on your chest and arms.

"Girl push-ups" should be like crunches: an exercise you no longer do. They're far less effective than regular push-ups, and you'll find that the alternative is a much better way to go!

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Some people get lucky and are born with fit, toned bodies. Andy Peloquin is not one of those people... Fitness has come hard for him, and he's had to work for it. His trials have led him to becoming a martial artist, an NFPT-certified fitness trainer, and a man passionate about exercise, diet and healthy living. He loves to exercise -- he does so six days a week -- and loves to share his passion for fitness and health with others.

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