31 yo F, 5'9", 67kg. Been working out about 3/4 yrs. Previously was 'skinny fat' - no core strength, fitness or even sports ever.

About two years ago, after a year+ of weights, I wanted to start working on my bodyweight strength. I could not hang or plank at all. Over the 2 yeas working on it my planks have improved, but I have been unable to get past hanging or knee pushups (4-5 tops). I also struggle with some yoga (plank lower to cobra - completely impossible).

Ive read the articles. I work the same muscles. I can deadlift 45kg, row 40, Lat pull down 35, etc, etc. I try to do negatives, but can barely manage to hold before I drop. Asked gym peeps for advice to no avail. Recently began wrist exercises.

Question is.. could it be another issue? My elbows click and grind when I try to do pushups. And, I get electric shocks down my forearms when I do shoulder press over 15kg.

Any advice would be great.. cant afford doc visit.


  • Is there any pain while doing these exercises?
    – sMaN
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 5:18
  • 1
    This is going to sound very harsh, and for that I apologise, but looking at the amount of time training (3/4 years) and your current strength and bodyweight, you're just not very strong. After a year of weight training, baring any physical impediment, you should be able to easily deadlift your bodyweight. Have you been pushing to increase the weight you lift? Have you been making consistent small increases in weight (i.e. adding 2.5kg to the bar when you deadlift every week or so)?
    – Dark Hippo
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 7:15
  • I couldn't do any pull ups until I did my first series of 12x lat pulldown with at least 64 kg considering I got 80 kg and deadlifted 110kg Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 7:18
  • Can you do raised push-ups, say against a wall or a counter-top? How low to the ground can you get before you can't do them? What part of your body fails?
    – Sean Duggan
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 12:37
  • How many reps are you doing for those deadlifts, rows, etc? How strenuous do they feel? Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 15:41

1 Answer 1


What you should be doing is increasing the strength of the muscle groups you use during a pull-up or push-up.

For instance, do lat pull-downs or inverted rows to work your back muscles to the point that you're back becomes strong enough to do a full pull up. Assisted pull ups are also a great way, for more details see my answer on another question about pull ups.

For push-ups, you can start doing things like bench pressing, using both dumbells and barbells. This way you can steadily increase the weight, improving your strength as you go. You can also do push ups on your knees instead of your feet, this will make it a but easier. You can also do chest flies with either dumbells or on a cable machine.

  • You can also do incline push-ups which lower the weight your chest has to lift. Set up against a table and start doing push-ups. It should feel rather light. Adjust the angle until it becomes challenging.
    – Yousend
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 17:17
  • @akadian Thanks for the comment. You're right, it will be easier to do a push up that way, so you can work on that part of the chest, but you'll be focussing more on the lower part of the pectoral, so you'd have to make up for that in another exercise and target the upper chest aswell.
    – MJB
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 7:24
  • Thank you everyone. I do have breast implants which make it feel strange when I work chest muscles directly (pls dont judge, never developed due to thinness when young). I only do chest as indirect or they may become strange shaped. I am trying to get better at handling the squeezing feeling but its taken time. Received them under muscle 7 yrs ago no problems. Many women have them & can still pushup/pullup though. I do knee and wall pushups regularly but been unable to advance/to do more. Also shoulder blades stick out like wings not sure why.. perhaps part of the issue. Thank you all again. Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 18:40
  • I am starting to read up on this, which I never thought of before!! Perhaps part of the issue. livestrong.com/article/… Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 18:47
  • @JulieVentic Dont worry I'm not here to judge. It could very well be a factor in your issue, the post you just linked. Have you ever let a doctor look at your shoulders?
    – MJB
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 9:39

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