Trainer Tip By: Jess - Push Ups

Why are push-ups so d*mn hard for women?! 

I can’t tell you the number of females I’ve talked to who have the goal of “just one push up!” like it’s this far off lofty goal that will probably never come to fruition. While sex-specific physiological differences do play a part in these particular exercises, there is no reason that females should not be able to bust out this movement (and most females don’t believe me when I say that!). 

But first of all, what makes them so freakin’ hard?

Women find push-ups more difficult than men do because they have less muscle mass in their upper extremities. Women have about 40 percent less upper-body mass than men do. This means that, in general, a woman's natural upper body is only about 50 to 60 percent as strong as a man's. Additionally, females tend to have higher relative amounts of Type I and IIA muscle fiber types (aka slow-twitch fibers) compared to males. The prevalence of the slower-twitch fibers is a benefit to female performance in that the slower oxidative fibers and higher oxidative capacity allow for increased endurance and recovery. However, increased endurance isn’t exactly what we need when trying to do push-ups and chin-ups! Contrary to what some believe, this doesn’t mean women can’t do these movements, it just means they may have to work harder at it.

So how do we get there?

Practice! Consistent practice makes all the difference when it comes to mastering these bodyweight skills. HOWEVER, technique is the key to success. Check outs the tips below to see how you can level up your push-up game. 

  • Proper Hand Position: Hands slightly outside of shoulders, elbows are at 45-degrees at end position. Hands/elbows out too far isn’t ideal because of lack of shoulder stability. Hands/elbows in too close isn’t ideal either because of too much crowding strain placed on the shoulder. 45 degrees is just right.

COVAL Fitness - Female Fitness Trainers in Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Proper Head PositionLowering to the floor during the push-up can result in the head jutting forward hastily. This is problematic because it places a lot of strain on the neck and often feeds into the same faulty postural issues. Think about making a double chin and actively “pulling” yourself to the floor instead of falling.

COVAL Fitness - Female Personal Trainers in Ann Arbor Michigan
  • Proper Body PositionWhen you set up with your lower back arching, odds are your back will remain arched and possibly become more arched during your push-up. Set up with that posterior pelvic tilt (that we’re always telling you about!). The rest of the torso is set by creating the same feeling/tension you get when performing a dead-bug or a plank.

There you have it! 3 foolproof tips to help you get your first bodyweight push-up. Remember, practice is key. Happy push-uping!



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