Has anyone ever used the term “girl push-ups” in reference to the exercise on the right? I know it’s something I used to say – I specifically remember the term being taught to me in high school gym class. But have you ever thought about the meaning/message behind this term?
In a nutshell, the message is that girls aren’t as strong as boys. There are quite a few expressions out there that send this same message (“man up” and “grow a pair” are two that come to mind). While I don’t necessarily believe that people intend to be malicious using this language in the gym (or anywhere really), there is no denying that the underlying impact is the implication that women are inferior to men.
The truth is, this push-up modification has absolutely nothing to do with gender. Modifications/regressions of exercises are used to accommodate several things, including but not limited to injuries, mobility, strength, comfort level, personal preference etc.
This particular modification actually isn’t my go-to for regressing the push-up pattern. In my experience working with clients, performing the push-up on an incline, rather than from the knees, is a more accessible position for a lot of people and tends to show better results in working towards the full push-up. Either way - the world girl has no place!
Can you think of any other exercises or phrases that have a similar hidden (or not so hidden) message? Let me know in the comments below!