Push-ups are one of the basic weight training exercises, and they are undoubtedly one of the most effective fitness exercises ever. You can do push-ups to harden your chest muscles and various other parts of the upper body. Push-up grips (also known as push-up bars) are an excellent way to get the most out of this exercise. They not only intensify the effects of push-ups, but are also a great way to train your muscles with minimum impact on the joints.
In this article, you will find out everything you need to know about push-up grips and push-ups in general. We will help you with some tips on how to perform the exercises, and explain the advantages of push-up bars. We also want to introduce some effective variations that can be performed with this very practical training equipment.
Push-ups – also an effective exercise without push-up bars
The big advantage of push-ups is that they can be performed anywhere. You do not necessarily need any equipment for the exercise, so your training remains extremely flexible. It is mainly the chest and arm muscles (triceps) that are trained when doing push-ups. The entire shoulder musculature, particularly the front section, is also involved. A lot of people do not realise that, because you have to tense the entire body when doing push-ups, and have to maintain this tension throughout the exercise, the torso and buttocks muscles are also affected to an extent that should not be underestimated. Therefore, in a way, push-ups constitute a total body workout.
Performing the exercises correctly
Regardless of whether you use push-up bars or not, push ups should be performed as follows. Go down on your knees and support your weight on your hands. In the starting position, your hands should be level with your chest. Now, stretch your legs out backwards and support your weight on the tips of your toes. From this position, lower your body towards the floor, inhaling as you go down. When your nose is almost on the floor, use your arms to push yourself upwards again, to the starting position, exhaling as you do so.
When doing the exercise, please consider the following aspects:
- Your body must form a straight line, i.e. avoid hollowing your back or pushing your buttocks into the air. Ideally, you should ask someone, preferably a fitness coach, to check and correct your posture when you start doing push-ups for the first time.
- Your arms and your ribcage, your belly, your back, your buttocks and your legs must be tensed throughout the whole exercise.
- You should perform the repetitions in a controlled manner. The aim is not to do as many push-ups as possible, but to do them as precisely as possible. With a little practice, you will soon be able to achieve a high number of repetitions per set!
- In order to protect your elbow joints and maintain chest tension, never stretch your arms all the way through in the highest position.
Mistakes that must be avoided
- Many people do not tense their bodies sufficiently, with the result that their hips sag while they are doing the exercise, and their arms are unstable. Often, inexperienced people also push the buttocks upwards.
- If you do not have enough strength in your arms and chest (yet), you will be putting a lot of strain on your wrists. This can result in pain. The ideal solution is to use push-up bars. You will learn more about their advantages as you continue to read this article.
- Those who want to do as many repetitions as possible, in as short a time as possible, tend not to lower the body completely. Thus, they do not use the full range of motion for each push-up. The result is an ineffective workout.
Advantages of push-up bars
Push-up bars for a high level of comfort
First of all: push-ups can be done anywhere, but some surfaces are less suitable than others. A rough surface, for example, can limit the training comfort and even lead to skin or hand injuries. Also, when it comes to the carpet in a hotel room, you have no idea who has used the room in the past, and what they did there. Push-up grips are THE solution! These handy training devices can easily be taken anywhere, making training as hygienic and comfortable as possible.
Gentle on the wrists
Due to the extreme backward bending of the wrists and the associated strain on the tendons and ligaments when doing push-ups, joint pain can occur quickly. In this case, push-up grips are also the ideal solution. They ensure that the wrists remain in an ergonomic position during training.
Note: Alternatively, you can do push-ups on clenched fists. But, if you have ever done push-ups this way, you will know that it is not very comfortable either.
For a more effective workout
Another significant advantage of push-up grips is the extended range of movement during the exercise. You can lower your upper body much further than is the case without the grips. With push-up bars, each push-up becomes more intense and effective, because the different muscles are subjected to more strain.
Note: Due to the enhanced effectiveness of the training, in the beginning, you will achieve fewer push-ups than you could without push-up grips.
So that you do not lose your grip
Last but not least, push-up bars give you better grip on the floor, especially on tiles, parquet and laminate. On such surfaces, sweaty hands can easily slip, which can result in an imprecise motion. Push-up bars, on the other hand, have a non-slip underside, so you can focus all your attention on your workout.
Various exercises with push-up bars
In the following section, we will present a few push-up variations that can be performed very effectively with the bars. Please note that this is only a small sample. This practical training gadget offers you a wide variety of options for varying and intensifying your push-ups.
For normal push-ups, place the push-up grips so that they line up with your shoulders. This variation is designed to work the chest, triceps and shoulders. You can either use the neutral grip (with the push-up grips parallel to one another) or in the over-hand grip (with the push-up grips in line).
Wide push-ups for a broad chest
For wide push-ups, place the push-up grips on the floor, slightly further apart than your shoulders. The further apart the grips are, the less the arms are involved in the motion, and the more effort is focused on the chest. Ergonomically, the exercise becomes increasingly difficult as you increase the distance between the grips. For this version, push your elbows outwards consciously during the downward phase.
Practical tip: In order to give your chest muscles a proper workout, start with the grips as wide apart as possible, and move them gradually inwards as you run out of strength. This is better than taking a break while you regain your power.
For this exercise, you can either place the push-up grips parallel to one another or in line. The difference is mainly in the comfort level. Decide for yourself what is most comfortable for you. The parallel arrangement also allows you to work the inner fibres of your chest muscles.
Tight push-ups for strong arms
With tight push-ups, you also have the option of placing the push-up grips as described above, in order to increase the comfort and vary the load. The big difference in this exercise is the very close distance between the push-up grips. Due to the closeness of the hands, the arms are given more of a workout than is the case with the wide push-ups. To maximize the workout for your triceps, keep your elbows as close to your body as possible.
Reverse grip push-ups
As the name suggests, you do not use the overhand grip, but rather, the underhand grip, i.e. your fingers point away from your body. This is particularly demanding on the triceps and the inner chest.
The ultimate discipline – one-armed push-ups
Whether you use push-up grips or not, single arm push-ups are a tough challenge. They require excellent body tension and a strong chest and triceps.
The starting position is the same as for "classic" push-ups, except that the legs are much wider apart. This ensures that you do not lose your balance during your workout.
Remove one hand from the push-up grips and hold it in a position where you can use it quickly, should your muscle strength fail, or if you lose your balance. Now lower your body until your nose almost touches the floor. Inhale as you go down, and keep your elbow close to your body. As soon as you reach the lowest point, push yourself back into the starting position, exhaling as you do so. Complete one set and then repeat with the other arm.
Attention: With this exercise, it is even more difficult to maintain the tension throughout the body. Therefore, the first one-armed push-ups you do will probably be a bit shaky. Tense the abdominal and back muscles consciously, to provide the necessary stability. Once you are able to execute the exercise safely, you can put your "free" arm on your back.
L-sits with push-up bars
As the name suggests, for L-sits, you assume an L-position, using the push-up grips, and form an L-shape with your upper body and your legs. Grasp the grips, and keeping your arms stretched, draw your knees up to about the height of your chest with the soles of your feet on the floor, then stretch your legs out, slightly above the floor. Hold this position for as long as possible (forming a 90° angle with your upright upper body and outstretched legs).
Tip to make the exercise easier: You can also do L-sits with one out-stretched leg, alternating the legs.
It is also possible to use the push-up grips to do handstands, as long as the grips are sufficiently stable and have a non-slip base. With your hands on the push-up grips, transfer the weight of your upper body forward (not too far!) and swing one out-stretched leg upwards. Raise the other leg until your legs are side by side, and stretch them upwards. The arms must also be stretched.
Important: Body tension and a strong musculature of the torso are absolutely essential in this exercise.
Pike push-ups are push-ups in which the focal point is on the shoulders and the back is not straight. To perform this exercise, raise your hips, so that your body forms an inverted "V". Keep your arms and legs as straight as possible. Your head is positioned between your arms. Now, bend your elbows and lower your upper body until your head almost touches the floor.
Push-ups with resistance band
Push-ups with a resistance band are another ideal exercise that can be done with push-up grips. You use the resistance of the band to intensify the effect of the exercise. Put a resistance band around your upper back, just below the shoulders, and grasp one end of the band and a push-up grip in each hand.
With push-up grips you can also do "reduced" dips, even though they do not offer you the same range of motion as a proper dip bar. To do so, crouch down between the push-up grips, with one hand on each grip. The arms are almost completely extended, and the legs are stretched out to the front, on the floor. Hold your upper body upright and your eyes straight ahead. Keep the elbows close to the body.
Downward movement: Bend the elbows and lower the body in a controlled manner. The downward movement is complete as soon as angle between the upper-arms and the forearms reaches 90 degrees.
Upward movement: Push yourself back into the starting position. Do not stretch your elbows completely at the end of the movement.
The perfect exercise for beginners – push-ups with the feet on the floor
If you have only started using the push-up grips recently, or if your muscles are not yet well developed, you can simplify the exercise by doing the push-ups with your knees on the floor. This is, so to speak, the entry-level version. But don't worry! After just a few workouts, your upper body will be strong enough to cope with advanced push-ups.
Video: 15 exercises with push-up bars
Shape the upper body with push-up bars
Now you have learnt about the advantages of push-up grips (training comfort, ergonomics, extended range of motion, better grip) and the many ways in which they can be used. When exercising, follow our instructions for the proper execution of the push-ups, so that you get the maximum effect of your workout and avoid injuring yourself. We wish you every success with your push-up training!
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