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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Girls, Get Off Your Knees

Push-ups…..I'm talking about push-ups.  What did you think I was talking about?  Geesh!

Push-ups, in my opinion, are one of the top offenders for moves executed with poor form.  I see everything from hips sagging, raised butts, reaching with the neck, shallow range of motion, movement through the spine while descending, etc, etc.  Why?  Why do I see such poor form on push-ups?  Because they're hard!  Push-ups have been around for decades and while they may look simple enough, they're a difficult exercise to perform correctly rep after rep after rep.

Can you spot the mistakes on the top video?  I know I exaggerated the move but it's not too far off from what you might find in the gym….or doing yourself.

Somewhere along the line performing push-ups on the knees caught fire as a great way to modify the exercise to make it easier and I'm here to totally disagree.  And, for the record, I cringe at referring to push-ups on your knees as "girl push-ups"…so don't say it.

There is no shame in modifying or regressing any exercise, including the push-up but if you're goal is to eventually be able to perform push-ups from your toes I suggest you get off your knees.  In my experience, performing push-ups from you knees may help to strengthen your upper body but it doesn't always translate to strength in push-ups from your toes.

So how do you regress a push-up from your toe if you're not on your knees?  You use an incline!
Using an incline allows you to get into the exact same position you would in a standard push-up but the incline removes some of the load.

I performed these incline push-ups on a smith machine as it's easy to adjust the bar but a countertop, step, or bench would work well too.  Lowering the incline makes the movement more difficult and a higher incline makes the movement easier.

If you need a review of proper push-up technique click here.

Regardless of if you take my advice on trying out the incline push up or not, I hope we can agree on one thing- perform a move incorrectly or with poor form should not be an option.  Find a way to modify or regress the movement to keep your body injury free and build from there.

Your turn:  Have you ever tried incline push-ups?


  1. A few years ago my fitness progressed enough to get off my knees and honestly, it makes me feel like a rock star. Push ups are one of those exercises that you have to do regularly or you lose it.

  2. I challenge everyone in my classes to get off their knees too, even if they can only do 1 on their toes. And form, I completely agree its critical to have good form. Improper form is the biggest problem I see when I'm teaching and its because its hard, but without good form comes injury and no progression in strength. It's hard to get people to understand that though in the moment when it just feels so impossible to get that extra rep, etc.

  3. I use the sliding board at the playground, the wii fit board, the couch, my desk ---- I just can't get over top of my wrists in a traditional push-up without being on an incline. Even just a little incline like the wii fit board helps me stay on my toes and in good form.

    Great tips!