I hate “girl” push ups. I don’t care if they’re called modified push ups. I still hate them. Not because just of the poor training effect they deliver, but also because placing the term “girl” in front of push ups implies that this is the only way girls or females should be doing them. Just because you’re a female doesn’t mean you have to be doing push ups from your knees. Yes, females do not have as much relative upper body strength as males, but there’s no reason for this to prevent you from performing a real push up.
Just like any other exercise we can follow a progression to get you to your goal, which in this case would be a push up if you’re not able to do one on your own. There’s a couple of ways of doing this and neither one involves doing push ups from the knees.
The first way is working on the lowering phase of the push up, which would also be called the eccentric phase. Getting stronger in the eccentric phase is going to carry over to being stronger in the concentric or push phase. Rather than working from the floor up, you’re going to work from the up position to the floor. All your going to do is slowly lower yourself to the floor, taking about 8-10 seconds to do so. That’s one rep. Once you’re able to do 3-5 of these add a couple more seconds on to the eccentric phase. Continue in this fashion. After a couple of weeks, test your ability to do a standard push up.
The other way to progress from not being able to do a push up also involves working from the top down. All you’re going to do is find something that is about chest level to place your hands on and get into a push up position with your legs out straight. You could use a table, plyo box or Smith machine (one of the few things it’s good for). Once you’re able to do about 8-10 push ups from this height, you’re going to place your hands a bit lower and aim for 8-10 push ups again. Continue in this fashion, placing your hands a bit lower each time your successful at the previous phase. Next thing you know your hands are on the floor and you’re banging out push ups probably better than most guys in the gym.
Once your able to a standard push up, now the fun begins. You have endless push up variations to work up: feet elevated, single leg, t-push ups and band resisted push ups just to name a few. And may be some day we can eliminate “girl” push ups forever.