Push ups are one of the most effective and commonly used fitness exercises in the world.
They work almost every muscle in the upper body, and while they hit your chest, triceps and upper back nicely, they also do wonders for all your core muscles and even your lower back. Different variations of the standard push up can also incorporate your lower body for a serious full body workout.
There’s a reason why push ups are used in almost every sport and fitness program – as a warm up, as a warm down, as an intensity exercise, as a slow exercise, as a strength building exercise, as an endurance exercise. Push ups are as close to the perfect exercise as you can get – you can do them anywhere, they build strength, encourage good form and posture, requires no equipment and are extremely effective! If you’re not working on your push up, I suggest you start today.
What are push up bars?
Push up bars are a very simple piece of equipment that enhance the regular push up. They take pressure of your wrists and incorporate wrist integrity into the workout, meaning you strengthen and protect your wrists with each rep as well.
They also add some height to your regular push up, meaning you can get a deeper negative movement and hit your chest and arms even harder.
One of the best things they do is allow you to make a fist during your push ups, and while you can do regular pushups on your fists as well, these are generally not good for your knuckles and don’t actually allow you to generate the extra force that comes with creating a fist. When you create a fist around a push up bar, you’ll notice an increase in stability and strength from being able to truly squeeze into the pushing motion.
Not only does this improve your push up form, it will allow you to do more push ups, further increasing your strength gains.
Of course there are variations to regular push ups that can also give you these benefits without bars, such as doing push ups on your fists and using chairs/benches to give you height, but push up bars are much safer and effective alternative.
What to look for in a good push up bar?
Push up bars are a pretty basic piece of equipment and all push up bars share similarities – they’re all very small and compact and can be used anywhere, and even packed easily in a suitcase for when you travel. They’re also reasonably affordable, don’t require much space, have no need for batteries and are simple to use. However, they also share many differences too:
There are many types of push up bar. The most basic is the fixed bar. These look like regular handles you might find on a drawer (although much larger), which you place on the floor and hold onto while you do your push ups. These enhance your push ups by elevating you an extra few inches of the floor and taking pressure of your wrist.
The next type of push up bar is the rotating push up bar. These push up bars allow you to rotate your hands throughout the movement which further protects your wrist and takes pressure off the shoulder joint. If you get sore shoulders after a lot of push ups, look into these.
Another variation is the push up boards. These push up bars come with an underlying board, a bit like a lego/jigsaw board, and you can slot the bars in at different angles to work out different muscles. We think these are a little gimmicky, but they are quite a good training tool for people who aren’t very familiar with the different types of push ups.
Push up bars don’t support a whole lot of weight and therefore don’t need to be made from steel or anything particularly expensive. As your feet are also grounded during a push up, most bars only need to support part of your body weight. Even plastic push up bars are reasonably common and rarely break. However, you do want to get push up bars made of good materials such as steel or wood for longevity.
The best push up bars: Our reviews
SongMics Chrome Steel Push Up Bars
These are your standard push up bars. The wide base ensures the bars stay steady on the ground, and the basic padded handles support your hands and wrists.
These bars are made from steel so will be much sturdier than some of the cheap plastic versions that are quite common.
If you’re just after a very simple and affordable set of push up bars for the home or office, these would be our recommendation. They’re easy to use, easy to store and look rather nice as well.
- Made from steel.
- Durable and stable.
- Easy to store and carry.
- Affordable and reliable.
Adidas Push Up Bars
These press up bars by Adidas are a little twist on the usual design, but essentially are the same as your standard push up bars.
The “twist” design does add another layer of stability, as it makes it slightly harder for the bars to rock side to side while you have weight on them. If you’re doing your push ups with correct form this shouldn’t be an issue anyway, but for those less confident in their push up or who are just starting out, this can be a nice bonus.
Very sturdy and durable, made to Adidas’ usual high standards.
- Unique twist design.
- Foam padding on handles.
- Sturdy, durable and affordable.
- Easy to store.
Wooden Push Up Bars by PULLUP&DIP
We were hesitant to include these push up handles on our list as they are rather pricey for what seems like a standard set of push up bars.
However after trying them we were sold. They might not look too different, but used side by side next to a standard pair of bars the difference was very noticeable.
First, they’re incredibly stable. The flat bottoms mean the entire device is grounded, rather than just two thin bars. This might not make a difference after 5 or 10 push ups, but you start to notice it after 80 to 100.
The second thing we love is the wooden handle. It’s lightweight and the ergonomic fit to your palm makes a world of difference after a few big sets. Rather than foam padding to increase comfort, the wooden handle is slightly contoured to fit your palm, a subtle but meaningful difference.
Not only that, it saves you from having to wash the bars to avoid them smelling. A quick wipe down now and then with an alcohol wipe does the trick.
The last thing we love is the workmanship. Made from quality steel and wood, it’s a step above the cookie-cutter push up bars you will find for £10 at your local store. As they say, there’s no substitute for quality.
Probably unnecessary for beginners but if you do a lot of push ups, we think you’ll love these. We do!
- Built with a combination of quality wood and steel.
- Extremely sturdy.
- Easy to clean – no foam handles.
- Ergonomically designed to support your palm and wrist.
- Excellent build quality.
Tomshoo 5 Piece Home Exercise Kit
This 5 piece exercise kit by Tomshoo includes a standard set of push up bars. The bars are plastic with foam grips, so not the most sturdy bars but will support most people’s weight comfortably (If you weigh over 100kg, we’d recommend a sturdier bar).
The bonus of this kit is it also comes with several other items for body weight workouts.
The skipping rope is great for cardio and we think is one of the best possible exercises for warming up and warming down.
The ab roller is a tough exercise that really hits your core and is fantastic if you’re strong enough to do it.
The hand grip is a way to increase wrist and grip strength, and is a good exercise to do at home which will benefit almost all your lifts in the gym. Grip strength is also a good indicator of strength in general.
Overall a good value piece of kit for the price. If you’re looking to build out a little home workout space with some easy to use tools, including push up bars, this is a great start.
- Standard set of push up bars.
- Hand gripper to improve grip strength.
- Skipping rope for cardio and warming up/down.
- Ab roller to really target core muscles.
- Great value multi-kit.
Perfect Pushup Handles by Perfect Fitness
I personally have had a pair of these for over 10 years and love them – they’re my favourite way to do a push up and probably will be forever.
The perfect push up has patented rotating handles, which allows more freedom of movement in the shoulder, chest and wrists when doing push ups.
It also incorporates more muscles into the movement allowing for a fuller workout. When you do several big sets, you’ll know what I mean. The pump it gets on your upper body is excellent.
Not only is it a better push up, it’s a safer push up too. Many people who do lots of push ups complain about both shoulder and wrist pain. Because the rotating movement frees the shoulder joint on the down portion of your push up, it alleviates most shoulder impingement people have during a regular push up motion. It is almost like switching between a regular push up and a dumbbell push as you go up and down.
If push ups are part of your regular routine, we highly recommend getting a pair of these. You’ll never go back to regular push ups again!
- Patented rotating motion allows a more fluid up/down movement.
- Incorporates more muscles than a regular push up.
- Better stability for the wrist.
- Great shoulder movement reduces chance of injury/pain.
- Hits the chest at different angles through the push up.
Cretee Push Up Board
The push up board has become more popular in recent years, with the promise of teaching people to do better push ups and targeting specific muscles.
The board is colour coded so you know where to place the handles depending on which muscle you want to work out. If you want to hit your triceps, place the handles in the tricep colour, if you want to hit your chest, use the chest colours and so on.
It’s made from plastic with non slip handles, and stays reasonably stable as they’re anchored into the board. We think it’s a decent tool for someone who wants the extra guidance. However even standard push up bars can be placed in all the positions the board provides, so it’s not a must-have by any means.
- Gives guidance on different style push ups.
- Makes sure you’re targeting the muscles you want.
- Anchored handles makes them stable.
- Easy to store carry.
- Encourages a variety of workouts.
Our top picks!
For a budget choice, we’d recommend the Adidas Push Up Bars. They’re well made and affordable, and do everything you need from a standard set of bars.
However if you it’s in your budget, we’d recommend going for the wooden bars by Pullup & Dip. They’re extremely well made and even though the differences with a standard push up bar are subtle they’re very noticeable after a few big sets.
Overall though, our favourite push up bar is the Perfect Pushup. The way it turns the regular push up into a dynamic workout is amazing. Not only does it make push ups more effective but safer too. We think we’ll be using these bars for a long time!
Last update on 2020-10-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API