Push ups are the most effective calisthenics exercise for building strong chest muscles. The best push ups are done using push up bars.
I’ve already posted a guide to doing push ups, so today I’m going to explore doing push ups using push up grips – also called push up bars.
While calisthenics generally shuns the use of equipment in favour of whatever your environment provides, push up bars are one of the few bits of kit worth investing in.
Of course you can continue to do push ups wherever and whenever you feel like it, but adding in push up bars to your training routine can help you develop strength faster while protecting your body from damage.
In this guide I’ll take you through the ins and outs of exercising with push up bars and provide reviews of the top push up bars on the market.
Working Out with Push Up Bars
Push Up Bar Benefits
First off, what are the benefits of using a push up are bar? The primary benefits of using a push up bar is that they intensify the impact of doing a push up while limiting joint strain.
Increased Intensity: Because push up bars offer a greater range of motion they also increase the impact of each push up on muscle growth. Using the bars you are able to lower your body a few inches (centimetres) closer to the ground, this extra distance intensifies the exercise’s impact on your chest, triceps and shoulders. The greater distance also increases the time your muscles are under tension – resulting in better tone and definition.
Limiting Joint Strain: Push ups put a lot of pressure on the wrists. This can lead to wrist damage and even forearm damage that can result in longterm injury if not addressed. Using push up bars greatly reduces the strain on your wrists by keeping the joints in line. The comfortable, more natural, angel at which you hold the grips will save your wrists a lot a wear and tear and prevent deterioration of the joints.
Multi-Use Equipment: What’s more, as I will discuss in the next section, push up bars can be used for more than just push ups; a whole range of exercises can be performed using this equipment.
Push Up Bar Exercises
Push up bars can be used for a wide range of exercises, including – obviously! – numerous kinds of push ups.
Push Ups: regular push ups, side-to-side push ups, wide grip push ups, close grip push ups, one arm push ups and Spiderman push ups.
Mountain Climbers: Use the push up bars to elevate yourself while doing mountain climbers. By using push up bars you will be protecting your wrists from damage.
Planks: Instead of placing your hands directly on the ground you can hold the handles of the push up bars instead. As with push ups and mountain climbers, this will protect your wrists from damage while completing the exercise.
L-Sit: While it’s easier to do an L-Sit with parallette bars, it is possible to do L-Sits with push up bars too.
Handstands: Use push up bars to assist with handstands. Again, this will protect your wrists, which is extra important during a handstand as more weight is being supported through your wrists than with any other exercise.
Push Up Bar Position
When working out with push up bars the usual push up guidelines apply, except now, instead of putting your hands palms down on the ground, you place the push up bar where your hands would normally go and firmly grip the handles of each bar.
For those who need a quick reminder, here are the key points for correctly performing a push up:
- Place your hands (push up bars) below your shoulder (unless performing a wide stance style of push up).
- Keep your feet shoulder width apart
- Keep you head up and eyes forward
- Keep you elbows by your side (unless performing a specific pushup that requires otherwise)
- Maintain a strong core throughout the exercise
About Push Up Bars
Push up bars come in many shapes and sizes. They are made from a variety of materials and vary dramatically in overall quality. Choosing the right push up bar can be a challenge with so many options on the market.
Plastic Push Up Bars
If you have a limited budget, a simple plastic push up bar will suffice. Make sure it comes with a foam grip on the handle, otherwise you will find it difficult to hold when your hands get sweaty. The lack of grip can also lead to your hands hurting before you’re done doing push ups. This will negatively effect your training regime – you want to get your reps done before your hands tire!
Plastic push bars come with plastic cups attached to the feet. On some floors, these will slip around. It is recommended to use a cloth or matt to keep the push up bars from sliding around the room.
Heavy Duty Push Up Bars
For those who are carrying some extra weight, or are naturally large, or well-built, reinforced, heavy duty push up bars are worth the investment. Simple, cheap plastic push up bars are liable to bend and brake with weights above 170 pounds (77KG)
Instead of plastic push up bars, try square block push up bars. These are substantially more solid than their plastic counterparts. Alternatively, try s-shaped or u-shaped steel push up bars. Their design and material make them suitable as heavy duty push up bars. The design also prevents them from slipping on most surfaces.
Swivel Push Up Bars
Swivel push up bars, or ballbearing push up bars/twist push up bars, are designed to work your core and improve stability. While more expensive than most push up bars, the swivel push up bar will take your training to the next level by forcing you to stabilise yourself with every push up. As you push, the ballbearing mechanism inside the push up bar will twist, forcing you to right yourself each time.
Push Up Board
The push up board (a.k.a. Power Press Push Up Board, 9 in 1 Push Up Board) is an innovative newcomer to the push up bar market. This easy to use push up device comes with a color coded board that indicates where you should place the handles depending on which muscle groups you want to train.
The board is made of heavy duty plastic and comes with an anti-slip under surface.
Push Up Bar FAQ
The best push up bars are those made from strong materials, that do not slip and slide while being used. Look for a push up bar made from steel, or other heavy duty materials, and equipped with a foam covered handle to reduce hand fatigue.
Push up bars improve muscle growth by increasingly the intensity of each push up. Push up bars also help to avoid wrist injury by reducing strain on wrist joints.
Push up bars are more effective than traditional push ups because they increase the intensity and range of each push up done.
Push up bars will make it harder to do a push up. The benefits are increased muscle growth and reduced chance of injury.