Women will get stronger at pushups if they follow my no-nonsense strengthening plan–designed by me, a woman who does pushups very easily.

I was a personal trainer for five years at a gym and taught many women to do pushups.

And I mean REAL pushups, not the cheat kind (e.g., upper back jutting out, face jutting forward, tummy sagging).


I actually do pushups with my feet (not shins, but the tops of my feet only) on a high stool, while maintaining a straight line with my body from head to feet.

However, this is a very advanced way of doing pushups, but it’s just to assure you that my plan will definitely work for women wishing to get stronger at standard pushups.

Seated chest press machine. Women will develop stronger pushups by doing seated chest presses. The motion is actually a pushup angled upward by 90 degrees.


The advantage is that a woman, no matter how weak, will always be able to do seated chest presses.

Find a machine with handle widths that are similar to the width you’d place your hands apart in a pushup.

After two warm-up sets with light resistance (15-20 reps), increase the weight load so that 12 reps are difficult. Increase again so that you can barely do eight reps.

Eight reps should take it all out of you. Do two more sets at eight reps. How much weight this will require will vary from one woman to the next.

Flat bench dumbbell press. Lie on a flat bench and simply press upward dumbbells in each hand. Apply the same protocol as with the seated chest press routine.

Shutterstock/Catalin Petolea

Modified pushups. The reason I recommend seated chest press and flat bench dumbbell press, to get stronger with pushups, is that women usually struggle quite a bit with pushups. If all that women did were pushups, they’d quickly become discouraged.


To keep motivated and fired up, it’s important to perform other chest routines that you can actually do, and thus, feel good about, rather than, “I’m such a weakling!”

Nevertheless, to get stronger with pushups, women should also do these as well. Women will get stronger far faster if they modify pushups so that they can actually complete reps with full range of motion, as opposed to attempting to do military (or men’s) variations of the pushup.

I see women struggling like mad to complete just one military pushup, and after many months, they’re still struggling.

Instead, place your hands on a slightly elevated platform. This can be the round side of a BOSU board, or the flat side of the BOSU.


If it’s the flat side, grip the edge of the platform so that your fingers are curled over the edge.

Now try pushups with only the tops of your feet on the floor, body forming a straight line from head to toe.

If you can’t, then modify further by placing your knees on the floor. Don’t bow down to the platform!

I see women, with knees on floor, bowing down all the time.

This is not a modified pushup at all. It’s bowing and will not increase your pushup strength.

If you can’t help but bow, then further modify by doing pushups in a standing position, hands either against a wall, or against a ballet bar or railing bar.

Place feet out away from the bar, put hands on bar, keep your body straight, and lean towards the bar.

Don’t bow towards the bar. Now push away. A very novice woman should be able to do repetitions this way. Do four sets, up to 12 repetitions.

Over time as you get stronger, move on to knee pushups with hands on elevated platform.

Along the way, you’ll notice yourself getting stronger with the other chest routines.

Don’t just keep using the same resistance. Every few weeks, increase it, always striving for those 12-rep, and then eight-rep, maxes.

If you have it in you to push yourself to complete muscle exhaustion, you need only do these routines once a week.

If you can’t push as hard as you know you can, then do these routines twice a week with several days in between.

For women to get stronger for pushups, they must employ pinpoint form: no sagging back or shoulder blades jutting out, and no pitching forward of the head in an attempt to touch your nose to the floor while the rest of your body lags behind. And, no bowing!

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 


Top image: Freepik.com, drobotdean