No matter how strong you are, pushups suck. Maybe not for the first five, or even 10 or 20, but eventually you hit that point where your arms are shaking, your back feels like it’s collapsing and you aren’t sure you’ll be able to peel yourself off the floor if you go down for even one more. But it’s that level of total-body difficulty that makes pushups a great benchmark for measuring progress.
When I completed Kayla Itsines‘ Bikini Body Guide 1.0 last year, I took videos of myself doing pushups instead of taking photos of myself in a bikini. The difference from Week 1 to Week 12 was staggering, and so empowering! When I first started, I had to modify after just a few reps and it made me SO mad. I’d think about how knee pushups are also called “girlie pushups” and then I’d analyze the anti-feminist connotations and get so pissed that I’d try even harder. (To clarify: I think modifications are a must when we’re working to get stronger while protecting form, I’m also totally insulted at the insinuation that a woman can’t or shouldn’t do a traditional push-up.)
It took me the full 12 weeks of BBG to really get comfortable, and my form still isn’t perfect. But here’s where I’m at:
- Eyes are focusing on the floor about a foot in front of my head.
- My shoulders are back and down….ish. Like most people, I tend to bring them towards my ears when I work my upper body. It’s a work in progress.
- My stomach is pulled in and my back is flat, creating a straight line from my crown to my heels. This was my biggest accomplishment in terms of form, and I still have a tendency to fall apart toward the end of my sets. But that’s when I drop to my knees to finish. Baby steps.
- My glutes are activated, pulling in towards eachother. This is going to sound gross, but I imagine I’m trying to hold a coin with my butt cheeks. I don’t know why that’s the visual that comes to mind, but it’s what works for me.
- My legs are as straight as I can get them. I have really tight hamstrings, so in plank-type positions I always have to focus on sending energy out through my heels to keep my legs straight and my core properly activated.
Clearly, I still have work to do, but if my awkward body can do it, then anyone can!