The goal for training movements should be executing through a full range of motion (ROM). To do anything else robs you of the opportunity to improve your mobility, power and strength.  If you’re unable to execute the movement properly, using a full ROM, then modifications should be made to allow greater range of movement.  For example, the push up…

A proper push up is done with hands directly below the shoulders, the body is held straight and supported on the toes. Maintaining a rigid body line, the elbows bend to lower the body toward the floor where the chest touches the floor (not the stomach or thighs) and when pushing up, the body remains rigid (no saggy hips) and arms fully extend to the original position. Shorting the range of motion at the bottom (not touching the floor) or the top (bent arms, not extended) suggests a lack of strength and or mobility to move the body through the full ROM… or laziness combined with a preoccupation with the clock.

The willingness to execute crappy push ups in an effort to be the first one done with the workout is weak and fools no one. Far better to slow the train down and do the damn thing right! DO IT RIGHT THEN DO IT FAST! This will force improvement and simultaneously garner respect from your peers.

If you’re not able to find the floor with your chest (due to lack of strength, not character), no worries— we modify!  Modifying doesn’t last forever, it’s a means to a far better end!  Crappy push ups (due to lack of strength) won’t go away. You won’t wake up some random day in the month of May and nail a full extension push up after doing shorted push ups for months (or  years).  So modify for heaven’s sake!  Lose your pride, you’re not fooling anyone with a push up that’s only about 6″ deep.  Do them from your knees and get your chest “down there” so your body can develop the ability to “go there” all the time! Or, ask yourself if you’re proud of your push ups… can’t swagger around boasting a smokin’ WOD time if your push up travels half the distance of everyone else.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a girl, but it chaps my hide when anyone refers to a modified push up (from the knees as opposed to the toes) as a “girl push up”.  The statement suggests that only boys are capable of doing a push up from their toes and gals are relegated to their knees. WELL! I can promise you… there are plenty of girls who bust out push ups from their toes while getting their chest (not stomach) to the floor. AND, there are just as many boys out there who do their push ups from their toes and cannot seem to locate the floor and touch their chest to it.

Whoever came up with  “girl push up” is silly and is probably probably responsible for  “run like a girl”.  Both should be tossed out– it’s old thinking and I doubt there are many who really believe it… it’s just a bad habit that must be broken.  Plus… It’s been my observation that there are plenty of men out there who WISH they could run like a girl named Gracie (Freshmen Fit Pit member who runs like the wind) and who WISH they could do girl push ups that looked like most of our Fit Pit gals.

Modified Push Ups are not something to be ashamed of. They hold a very important place on the path of smart, focused athletes. Improve your mobility! Improve your strength! If you’re sore or recovering from an injury— modify!

Okay… I’ll get off my soap box now….

Written by: Sheryl Hammontree

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