The Modified Push-Up

I will admit that push ups are one of my least favorite exercises to do. They are hard and it doesn’t take many to feel the burn. I think many females can relate to the fact that more often than not the push up gets neglected over other exercises. 

During my teacher training with SloBody yoga we talked about why men are better at doing push ups than women. There is a reason! If you look at where men are the broadest/heaviest, it’s commonly the shoulders and for women it’s the hips. Women can thank having to bearer children for that one! From a biomechanical standpoint when performing a push up the body is mimicking a second class lever system with the axis located at one end (the feet), the resistance in the middle (hips) and the force at the opposite end (hands pressing against ground). If more weight is located at the center point you can see why it would be harder to press up from a push up than if the weight was added to an end point such as the arms/chest. 

So here’s the answer. Instead of neglecting push ups, modify them! The most common way is to do “girl push ups” although I don’t love this method as it doesn’t support a full range of motion push up. What I mean by full range of motion push up is having the ability to bend the elbows to 90 degrees while keeping chest and hips parallel just like you would in plank position. Two things I monitor very closely with my clients is that they aren’t rolling up as if they were doing cobra position in yoga and that they are lowering down more than 2 inches from the starting position. If you can only lower down 2 inches before feeling like gravity will take over and you’ll flop to the ground then listen up! 

Shown here is a user friendly method to performing a complete push up with a little love from a resistant band! This modification allows for full engagement of the pectoral muscles, triceps, anterior deltoid, serratus anterior and the midsection as a whole. Using the resistant band takes weight off of the central point allowing a full range of motion push up, core engagement and the ability to complete push ups to fatigue which is a key factor in building muscle.

This article is featured in January's West Seattle Herald: