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Can't even do one KNEE press up


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Hello. I'm really disheartened at the moment, and have been for a long time now. I'm a 19 year old female and I still can't do ONE proper KNEE press up, yet (and this is so embarrassing and makes me feel useless) I've been weight training with a personal trainer for nearly a year and a half. I lift weights (normally at the gym, but we've just entered lockdown 2.0 in the UK so gyms have closed again, so I'm working out at home for a month) five or six days a week and I train about an equal mix of upper and lower body. But still after a year and a half of this, I still can't even do one press up on my knees!! I thought I'd be able to do at least a couple of proper press ups by now. I can only do it if I flare my elbows out but I know you aren't meant to do that, so I'm just trying to at least do knee press ups without flaring my elbows, but I can't.

 

I'm so embarrassed. I haven't really had the fitness transformation most people would have had by now. And I should have been able to do them ages ago, but nope. Does anyone have any suggestions or advice as to why I still can't do them?

 

Thanks

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Some people need a progression to get to a knee pushup, and that's ok. If you're not at knee pushup yet, do a wall pushup, where you stand at a wall with your feet back a bit and do the pushup movement there. When that gets easy you can move your hands lower on the wall, then do it with your hands on a counter (keep your back straight), then on a lower surface, and a lower surface after that. You can build up to a knee pushup.

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There's nothing to be embarrassed about.  Everyone has their own starting point, the important thing is that you start.  You also aren't alone in needing to work your way to knee pushups, as Tank pointed out, there are progressions just for that.  Checkout Start Bodyweight for one guide with pictures, or search Google until you find one you like.

 

Finally, keep in mind that you aren't going to get better at something you aren't practicing.  So it doesn't matter that you've been doing general training, if you aren't practicing pushups, you won't get better at them.  So you're now on day 1 of pushup training, start measuring your progress from here.

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16 hours ago, Anim07734 said:

Finally, keep in mind that you aren't going to get better at something you aren't practicing.  So it doesn't matter that you've been doing general training, if you aren't practicing pushups, you won't get better at them.  So you're now on day 1 of pushup training, start measuring your progress from here.

This is exactly what I was going to say. 

 

Also, don't discount the work you've already done with the trainer.  You've already progressed in the those areas.  Finally, ugh, females and upper body strength.  It takes forever sometimes!

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Thank you all. I'll keep trying with the knee press ups (with proper form, no flared elbows). One question though. There's so much conflicting information on elbow positioning, everywhere seems to say something different. Do your elbows need to be tucked right in to your sides, or do they need to be about 45°? My PT says they don't need to be tucked in much, but from what I understand they do. It definitely makes it harder (i.e. impossible. For me anyway).

 

Thanks

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For pushups, flaring your elbows is frowned upon because it puts extra stress on your joints, which can cause injuries.  Tucking your elbows will focus more on your arms while moving them away from your body incorporates more and more of your chest muscles into the push.  Anecdotally, most people find that somewhere between 30 and 45deg the pushup because "easiest" as it incorporates the most muscle groups.  Changing your hand spacing and angle will also adjust the difficulty by changing which muscle groups take how much of the load.

Anim07734; God of Death in Training

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Maxim 70: Failure is not an option. It is mandatory. The option is whether or not to let failure be the last thing you do.

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Well it's been two weeks, and I've been practicing probably three or four times a week (with the occasional set in between that) and I can do one, but I've been stuck on that for over a week now and I just can't do any more. Why am I not improving? I've tried everything and I just can't get past one, even when it's not in the middle of an upper body workout. I don't know what to do. This is what happens every time I try and get better at press ups :( .

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Improvement takes time, especially when you're trying to double your current ability.  And that's how you should be looking at it, you're not "just adding one more rep," you're literally doubling what you can currently do.  That can be even harder than getting the first rep.

 

How are you currently training?  Pushups are one of the exercises that respond well to volume training, so the key to getting better is to just keep doing them regularly.  You can finish your sets with the lower difficulty version that helped you get your first full pushup; you can add more rest to your routine and space out your singles more; you can switch to  Grease the Groove style training and do sets throughout the day - whatever works for you, as long as you keep doing pushups.

 

Be patient, and be patient with yourself.  Fitness is a long journey and we all move at our own pace.  And if you try moving too fast, you risk an injury that will set you back even more.  Focus on your form, and making small, incremental improvements, and you'll get there.

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Anim07734; God of Death in Training

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Maxim 70: Failure is not an option. It is mandatory. The option is whether or not to let failure be the last thing you do.

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I also really struggle with press ups. I've been finding wall pressups (and now with hands on a counter top) encourages me and really works out my arms. I've always hated knee press ups, it just feels like a weird form that doesn't come naturally to me. So my plan is to keep going with the wall and counter top, and planking until I can do a full press up. I did manage to do this years ago but have lost the ability again, so I know it takes time but I will get there!

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I hate doing knee pushups, but I was able to build the strenght gradually from counter top pushups to the regular pushups. It reguired lots of repetition first, with the easiest difficulty. Sometimes even wall pushups, when my upper body was on fire.

 

So I'd forget the knee pushups and move to a counter top ones. When you feel like you could increase the difficulty, try using couch hand rest or other a bit lower surface for your hands. 

 

It's easier to focus on right form when you practise pushups against counter top, a wall or something. In my opinion knee pushups makes it harder to keep the core tight.

 

You can do this! Building upper body strenght is hard as a woman, but it will happen eventually. Just give yourself time. I had a long break on my workouts (health issues), and now I had to start from the scratch again: counter top and couch pushups. But that's ok. There is no shame on picking something you can do right now, to make progress.

 

Edit: Didn't realise this was an old post. Sorry about that. 😅

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