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How to Do Push-Ups

A Video How-To on Mastering Push-Ups

In high school, my gym teacher referred to push-ups with your knees on the floor as "girl push-ups." WTH?! It's up there with "you run like a girl" and utterly pisses me off. It sends the message that women aren't strong enough to do traditional push-ups, and that's absolutely NOT true. There are plenty of ladies in my CrossFit class that can do more push-ups than a guy any day of the week.

Push-ups know no gender, and putting your knees on the floor isn't just for girls — or anything to be embarrassed about! It's a modification for anyone to make the exercise easier, but they're still hard as hell. The thing is, doing push-ups on your knees uses different muscles than doing push-ups on your toes, which means doing them won't necessarily build the strength you need. If you want to graduate from knee push-ups to regular push-ups you have to — wait for it . . . practice push-ups! Yep, the more you do them, the easier they'll get.

So I stopped doing knee push-ups and started throwing in these modifications I learned from CrossFit coach Sefton Hirsch of Champlain Valley CrossFit. The first one is easier, the second one a little harder, and the third demonstrates regular push-ups.

Modification 1

  • Begin in plank.
  • Bend elbows behind you, lowering the chest to the floor.
  • Place the knees on the floor, then straighten the arms.
  • This counts as one rep.

Modification 2

  • Begin in plank.
  • Place the knees on the floor and lower your chest to the floor.
  • Lift the knees up, then straighten the arms.
  • This counts as one rep.

Sefton says that second variation is pretty much as hard as regular push-ups, but it definitely allows you to focus on the pushing movement to build the strength in your triceps and core. "The key is to always work the full range of motion. Scale the weight by going from the feet or knees or using a band. But always chest to deck and then full lock out," he told POPSUGAR.

Resting your knees on the floor, whether pushing up or when lowering down, is a great way to build strength in your core and upper body. So instead of putting your knees on the floor out of habit, try these modifications and eventually, knee push-ups will be a thing of the past.

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