Push-Up Ethics

I don’t know why this took so long…

The Washington Post reports that there is a movement afoot to stop allowing young women to substitute so-called “girls’ push-ups” (with the knees on the floor) for the actual toes-on-the-ground exercise while males are still required to do the real thing. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), which provides guidelines for exercise testing by fitness and medical professionals, still uses the modified push-up to assess women’s upper-body strength in its latest exercise testing textbook, published in 2021. Male strength is measured in part using the full push-up.

But Melanie Adams, a professor of exercise science at Keene State College in New Hampshire, told the Post that based on a 2022 study of female college students and push-ups that she led, the assumption that women could only do the weenie version was unwarranted. Some female college students could perform more than 20 full push-ups in succession, a total many men can’t match. Because the root exercise builds strong, important muscles in the upper-body and core, however, starting boys on real push-ups while girls are told to use the inferior version gives males a head start on superior strength that women will have a hard time overcoming.

In strength testing and many exercise classes, the number of push-ups considered poor or excellent varies by gender, and so does the type of push-up itself. “We’d like to see that changed,” one of the researchers says.

I don’t see why it wouldn’t be. The differing standards have always stood as implicit statements that all women are weaker than all men, which is the epitome of bias, just as the persistence of a female-only sports teams and athletic competition categories are implicit statements that women can’t compete with men in sports. The push-up disparity, instituted early in life, has the added harm of being self-perpetuation: girls are assumed to be weak, and doing inferior exercises will keep them weak into adulthood.

Perhaps eliminating this archaic relic of presumed male superiority can advance the cause of maintaining high fitness standards in such fields as firefighting and the military, rather than having different standards for men and women, which makes no sense, or lowering all fitness standards in pursuit of “diversity, equity and inclusion.” After all, as everyone the Post talked to agrees, push-ups work:

Well, maybe not just push-ups…

4 thoughts on “Push-Up Ethics

  1. Not just pushups. Maybe a little sprinkle of steroids on those wheaties in the morning. She in the picture is (1) a genetic anomaly amongst females, (2) on steroids or (3) a transgender female.

    Though, weenie pushups have always been stupid.

  2. I forgot to mention that the Post’s article actually says, “People who identify as girls or women typically are encouraged to do modified push-ups…” The Post couldn’t even play it straight in a piece about women’s push-ups. Sick, pandering, and stupid.

  3. I think it all depends on the motivating reason for the effort.

    If the main purpose is the enrichment and development of the INDIVIDUAL, then, concessions should be made. Girl’s teams, girls competing against other girls for the sheer joy of participation should continue. If a school fielded but one team, very few girls would make the roster.

    Successfully completing 7 “girl” pushups is more beneficial than completing 2 “standard” reps and, unable to do a 3rd, stopping. Running up 2 flights of stairs, then taking an elevator the rest of the way, is more rewarding than, (not being capable of running all 10), not trying at all. Just taking the lift from the ground floor.

    If the main motivating focus is on the INSTITUTION, then no quarter is given. Winning record, completion of the goal, success of the mission, only the best is acceptable.

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