Push up bars can be utilised in many ways, for beginner exercises as much as advanced ones.
In this article we will go in depth into the many ways you can use this versatile tool to get more out of your workouts. They may be a simple tool, fairly common and laying around in most gyms, but they are nevertheless very useful. For a buyer’s guide on which push up bars to get, click here.
The different exercises
Shown above being done on a set of parallel bars, push up bars allow you to lift yourself further away from the ground and therefore have more space to perform the L-sit. This is especially good for beginners as they may lack the strength to raise their legs above the ground completely, without some added height.
As one becomes stronger, the added floor clearance makes exercises like L-sit press to handstand or L-sit to planche transitions much easier.
How to perform the L-sit:
- Tilt your pelvis forwards as you lift your legs up and hold them in position
- Hands to your sides
- Push down into the ground
- Scapula should be fully depressed (shoulders down), and protracted (shoulders forward)
- As you get better, aim to raise your legs higher (increase compression)
Handstand push up progressions
From the pike push up, all the way to the full freestanding handstand push up, push up bars will allow you to hit more depth, recruit a larger portion of muscle fibers, and make it easier on your wrists.
The example above (pike push up) is done on a pair of benches instead, but the idea is the same, with the ground clearance allowing your to perform reps through a deeper range of motion, as well as having your wrists in a more ideal position.
How to perform the Pike push up:
- Position your body into an “L” shape
- Hands outside of shoulder width
- As you perform the eccentric phase, aim to form a triangle with you hands and head, pushing as far forward as possible
- Arms are ideally at a 90° angle on the bottom portion of the movement
Due to the high amount of required wrist flexion, planche progressions can be really tough on one’s wrists, even with serious conditioning. With push ups bars you can alleviate some of that pressure due to the change of hand/wrist position.
How to perform the planche:
- Protract shoulders fully
- Lean into push up, keeping entire body as tight as possible.
- As in any other exercise, progressions should be used to work up to a full planche – start with the tuck planche
- Hands slightly outside of shoulder width
Push up progressions
Once again, if you are one of the people that struggle with wrist pain in the push up position, push up bars are a handy tool that will not only allow you to go deeper into your push up and therefore get more out of one movement, but also protect your wrists. The example above is performed on parallette bars.
How to perform the push up:
- Hands slightly outside of shoulder width
- Keep your elbows tucked
- Shoulders retracted at bottom of the movement, and protracted on top
The extra elevation is great for tricep dips. Although the example above is also performed on a rather higher high push up bars/parallettes, shorter ones would work too, however sacrificing some range of motion.
How to perform tricep dips:
- Place your legs in front of you and you arms to your sides behind you
- Press through the push up bars in a vertical line, keeping a stable shoulder position
- Elevate legs for more difficulty, or place a weight on your legs
Instead of having your hands flat on the floor like demonstrated above, use the push up bars to alternate your grip and take the stress off of your wrists during the plank.
How to perform the plank:
- Hands slightly outside of shoulder grip
- Straight back, hollow body position with posterior pelvic tilt, form a straight line
- Keep tension throughout the body, making sure to breathe properly
Benefits of using push up bars
Alleviate wrist pain:
The modification of hand and wrist position whilst using a pair of push ups bars or parallettes means that your wrists will not be put under as much stress, and if you are one with a tendency towards pain in that area, your workouts will improve greatly from using this one simple tool.
Increased range of motion:
The extra ground clearance will allow you to go deeper in exercises like the push up, thus recruiting a larger amount of muscle fibers and gaining strength through an increased range of motion. Exercises such L-sits will also become more available towards beginners as they will compensate for one’s lack of strength or mobility when first starting out.
Lightweight and versatile:
Push up bars are a light, functional piece of equipment. They are easy to pack, and take up very little space. This means they can be taken with you pretty much anywhere you go. If you go for a higher pair of push up bars/paralettes, exercises such as regular dips, weighted dips, levers, and even rows become available to you.
Best push up bar exercises – Conclusion
We have gone over the main exercises that can be done on push up bars and parallettes, as well as how they should be performed. We spoke about how they can work to alleviate wrist pain through modification of hand position during your workouts. We also pointed out how you can increase your range of motion and get more from your standard exercises. Lastly, we went over the fact that push up bars are in fact a light, easy to carry, extremely versatile tool that opens up many different opportunities in terms of exercise variety.
Do you use push ups bars? If so, what are you favorite exercises?