Push-ups are among other conditioning exercises that use your body weight as resistance. However, many people with limited mobility find it difficult to assume the traditional push-up position on a floor. Others experience problems with strain on their wrists. Push-up bars afford certain advantages for those who seek this exercise's benefits. You should consult a doctor or fitness professional before attempting any new exercise.
Origin and Design
Although the precise origin of push-up bars remains in question, some attribute the advent of accessory bars to a military training program. Regardless of the innovator, many exercise-equipment manufacturers produce push-up bars made with steel or aluminum pipe. Standard push-up bars come in pairs and -- depending on the style -- bars are elevated from 3 to 8 inches above the floor. Elevated bars all but dictate proper form when you perform push-ups. Proper form promotes increased strength and push-ups become easier as you get stronger.
Fists vs. Bars
The traditional push-up position -- with your hands flat on the floor -- concentrates your upper-body weight on the joints and tendons in your wrists. To alleviate strain, some people do push-ups on closed fists, which allows them to keep their wrists straight. This is fine on carpet or lawn, but is uncomfortable on a hard surface. Using push-up bars is similar to doing the exercise on your fists without taxing your knuckles.
Without push-up bars, the majority of your upper-body weight must be moved by the muscles in your upper arms. Similar to using power spring clamps, gripping push-up bars with your hands incorporates your forearms' muscles. As a result, push-ups become easier because you are directly involving additional muscles to lift and lower your body weight through the range of motion.
Many trainers agree that how far apart you place your hands determines which different aspects of muscle groups in your chest, shoulders and arms will be targeted. Many people can do push-ups with their hands at shoulder width or closer, but find it difficult to do them with their hands wider apart, which is necessary to gain maximum benefits. Performing push-ups with a wider position can be difficult with your hands flat, and may seem impossible on your fists. Push-up bars make it easier to do more reps with a wider hand position because they provide stable platforms for each hand.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.