Opinions about push up bars benefits are polarized. Some say push up bars are the best piece of equipment, period. Usually that’s the sites that sell them. Others say that push up bars don’t offer any benefit vs regular push-up. The truth is somewhere in between.
Push up bars won’t turn your regular push ups into. They can help keep your wrists healthy, especially if you do lots of push ups. They are also kinda harder to do than regular push-ups since they provide additional ROM.
Those aren’t the biggest push up benefits, however. Read on to find out about all they can offer!
Probably the most recognized benefit of push up bars vs regular push-ups is that they are easier on your wrists. Push up bars let your hands, wrists and forearm line up in a straight line – a neutral position. That’s much easier on your wrists than regular push-ups.
However, you don’t necessarily need a push up bar for that. Fist push-ups, done correctly, provide the same benefit.
And like this article by The Hand and Wrist Institute states, stretching can help with wrist pain during pushups. Same article also says that rotating push up bars help with pain even more than regular bars, or fist pushups.
So should push up bars be the first remedy for wrist pain during pushups? Not necessarily. First, as always, consult a medical professional. Second, see if you are actually doing push-ups right. This Breakingmuscle article should help.
If you’re doing everything correctly yet pushups still hurt your wrists, try a stretch described here. If that doesn’t help, try fist pushups or simple push up bars. And if those don’t bring relief, get rotating push up bars.
A Better Workout
Push up bars provide a better workout compared to regular push ups. Don’t get your hopes high – push up bars benefits aren’t magic. They still help, however.
When you do push ups from bars vs regular push-ups, you increase your range of motion, according to Livestrong article.
More ROM means both more work for your muscles, and more time under tension. Both of these are good for strength and muscle development, but those aren’t the only push up bars benefits.
Since your hands are elevated on bars, your chest can go below them. And as this Livestrong article says, when your shoulders are abducted to a greater degree, your pectoralis major does more work.
This means that using push-up bars vs regular push-ups is definitely better for chest development.
The final push up bar benefit is that they work your wrists more. Provided you do them correctly. This can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, your wrists get stronger, which especially helps with combat sports.
On the other hand, your wrists can become tired first and turn into a weak link. This will either prevent you from training rest of the muscles or force you to do the exercise incorrectly.
And if you do them wrong and lose the neutral position, working with push up bars will be just as bad as regular push-ups.
Double as Parallettes
You don’t have to use push up bars just for push-ups. They work great for many gymnastic exercises, and make others easier and more accessible. Headstands are a good example of push up bars benefits extending to other exercises.
If you do headstands from the floor with your hand in a position similar to that in pushup, you are putting your entire weight on bent wrists. Do them on push up bars, and, as with push-ups, you place your wrists in a neutral position and increase ROM.
It’s still less range of motion than what most “real” parallettes will provide, but that can be a good thing. It’s plain easier and less threatening to do headstand pushups from push up bars than from taller parallettes.
And since their footprint is smaller than that of real parallettes, it’s easier to use the wall for support when you are starting out.
Even if you can do handstand pushups, push up bars can be used for low-intensity work after your main sets. Not to mention they lend themselves perfectly for things like l-sits, planche pushups and other gymnastic exercises.
Build Your Own
Unless you want rotating push up bars, you can easily build your own from PVC pipes. Here’s how. The article describes parallettes, true, but they can be easily converted into push up bars.
All you have to do is shorten 24” and 8” sections. Shorten 24” to approximately 6” so they won’t get in the way when you do your push-ups. As for 8” sections, they’ll determine the height of bars, so it’s up to your preference.
Of course, you don’t have to use PVC. You do have to use your judgment and common sense. If your contraption breaks, you won’t see any of the push up bars benefits.
Push Up Bars vs Regular Push-ups: Who Wins?
Push up bars benefits are many. They make push-ups safer by placing your wrists inline with your forearm and hand. They give more ROM, which helps make push-ups harder and better. They also work chest and wrists better. And finally, they double as parallettes.
That said, regular push ups aren’t without their pros, too. First, push-ups are safer on shoulders since there’s less shoulder abduction with regular push-ups vs push up bars. Second, they guarantee your wrists won’t be the weak link. Third, you don’t need equipment for them.
So which do you choose?
The push up bars. They aren’t significantly better than regular pushups, but they ARE better. And there are no reason not to do them unless you have shoulder issues.
It’s easy to build your own push up bars. If you make them from PVC, like in the guide, they’ll be light enough to take anywhere. And in a pinch, you can use dumbbells as push up bars, but it’s not recommended for gymnastics.
Wrists giving out before triceps, shoulders or chest isn’t that much of a problem, too. All you have to do is start a set of push ups on bars. Once your wrists tire, ditch the bars and finish the set with regular pushups. Voila – we just solved all the push up bar problems.