Do Push Up Bars Work?

Man doing push up

The humble push up bar is a popular piece of fitness equipment, but can they really make a difference? I mean, pushups are pushups, right? Wrong!

But before we dig into the detail, let’s remind ourselves of the benefits of incorporating pushups into your workout routine.

Benefits of Pushups

While many people consider the pushup to be an exercise that focuses just on the chest, it’s actually a brilliant compound movement that engages the following muscles:

  • Triceps
  • Shoulder muscles, particularly those of the front deltoids
  • Trapezius
  • Rhomboid
  • Abdominals
  • Minor, but not insignificant engagement of hips and legs.

That’s most of the muscles of the entire body! Obviously the level of muscle activation depends on the quality of execution, which is why good form is essential when exercising.

What Does Good Pushup Form Look Like?

  • Start in a plank position, engaging your abdominals.
  • Palms should be positioned shoulder width and below the shoulders.
  • Keeping your core engaged for a straight back, lower yourself, focusing on your chest touching the floor.
  • As you descend, do not allow the elbows to flare out to the side (look at the positioning of the arms in the photo at the top of the article).
  • Push strongly from the bottom of the exercise to return to the starting position.

What Do Pushup Bars Do?

Hex dumbells as a push up barThe pushup bar increases the range of motion of the pressup, in that it enables you lower your body further than in a normal pressup.

In the picture, a pair of hex dumbells are being used, but the height of a normal set of push up bars would be approximately the top of the hex dumbbell in the image, which means you have increased the length of the movement by around 3 inches.

Elbow positioning is even more important than in a standard pressup, because in the deepest phase of the movement, the shoulder tends to become more engaged. If the arms are flared at 90 degrees to the body, there is an increased risk of sustaining a shoulder injury – the last thing you want to do.

Keeping good form with the arms positioned at no more than 45 degrees to the body, will enable you to enter into the deepest phase of press up while keeping the chest engaged.

These extra inches of movement give rise to an incredible pump

Do Push Up Bars Work?

I answer this question with an emphatic “Yes!”

It is generally understood that increasing the range of motion of a movement leads to greater increases of size and strength when compared to a restricted range of motion.

My lived experience has been that I’ve been able to build a sculpted chest relying solely on push up bar press ups. In fact, they are so convenient and effective, that despite having the option of tradition barbell bench press training or dumbbell bench press training, I prefer to maintain my chest strength and appearance using push up bars as my preferred workout choice. In terms of effectiveness and convenience, pushup bars tick all the boxes!

How To Use Pushup Bars

Your form when executing a pressup with push up bars should be the same as described above, but your initial setup is a little different.

For maximum comfort when performing the exercise, I would recommend positioning the bars at shoulder with and at 45 degree angles. This ensures that the wrist and shoulders remain neutral throughout the movement.

As I explain here, I prefer to do full body workouts and push up bar pressups are a vital component in my routine. However, if I wanted to do a workout that focused solely upon maxing out my chest gains using push up bars, it would look

like this, remembering that when we’re not using weight to stress the muscles, we must resort to volume:

Warm Up

  • 1 min each of: stationery jogging / jumping jack
  • Head to toe dynamic stretching
  • Standard Pressups: 1 set x 10 reps
  • Standard pressups: 1 set x 15 reps

Phase 1

  • Feet elevated pushup bar pushups: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Super-slow standard pushup bar pushups: 2 sets x 5 – 8 reps
  • Standard pushup bar pushups: 3 sets x 10 – 15 reps

Phase 2

  • Standard Pressups: 2 sets to failure

Push Up Bar Success

As you can see, the pushup bar is a must-have piece of equipment. It opens the door to effective muscle building workouts that will help grow the big chest you’ve always wanted. They are the perfect piece of small space workout equipment, be it at home or when traveling.

I can’t remember a holiday in recent years when I’ve not taken a set with me and throughout the Covid lock down of 2020, they proved to be incredibly valuable.

So if you’ve been asking yourself ‘do push up bars work?’ or perhaps you’ve even reached that stage where you’re searching for where to buy pushup bars, but are having last minute doubts, then let me reassure you that I consider them to be an indispensable piece of home workout equipment! So don’t hesitate: buy a set now!

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