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Why Use Push-up Bars?

author image Kim Nunley
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.
Why Use Push-up Bars?
A young man smiling while gripping push-up handles at the gym. Photo Credit hoozone/iStock/Getty Images

You typically perform push-ups with your hands on the floor, but using push-up bars or handles can offer a couple of training benefits. If you suffer from wrist discomfort, the apparatus allows you to perform the exercise without pain. In addition, using a push-up bar lets you lower yourself closer to the floor, increasing how hard your muscles work.

Pushup Bars vs. Handles

A couple of different types of equipment are designed for push-ups. A push-up bar is a structure that you place on the floor where you plan to put your hands. It features a single bar running perpendicular to your body so that when you grip it, your palms are facing your feet. Push-up handles typically are two separate pieces of equipment that you grip with each hand. They allow you to change the direction of your wrists, so your palms can face each other or your feet as you perform the push-up.

Easing Stress on the Wrists

When you do push-ups without a bar or handles, you place your palms flat on the floor, forcing your wrists into extreme hyperextension, which can lead to pain and nerve problems. When you use bars or handles, your wrists maintain a neutral position. The muscles in your forearms must work harder to keep your wrists from collapsing, but they are in a safer position.

Increasing Chest Work

Using push-up bars or handles lets you drop closer to the floor, increasing how hard your chest muscle, the pectoralis major, must work. With your hands on the floor, your torso meets the ground sooner than when you do the exercise with bars or handles, which elevate your body. Your shoulder joints perform a greater degree of horizontal abduction, which means they flare out more to your sides.

Safety Considerations

While performing push-ups with a bar or handles can increase the involvement of your chest muscle because you horizontally abduct your shoulders to a greater degree, this extreme abduction can place significant stress on your shoulder joints. Extreme horizontal abduction can lead to shoulder impingement, in which your rotator cuff, the long head of the biceps, neural pathways in the shoulders or the bursa in your shoulders becomes pinched between your humerus and scapula. When you lower toward the floor, your humerus and scapula squeeze together. The farther you stretch your shoulders, the greater the risk of the structures in your shoulders getting pinched.

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