Just in case you thought push-ups were too easy, there's a simple invention called a push-up bar that adds even more of a challenge to the exercise. This simple tool makes push-ups more challenging and allows you to get more out of every rep. The push-up bars increase the range of motion of your push-up and the science behind the subsequent results is simple: increasing your range of motion in an exercise makes you stronger and builds muscle faster.
Use a push-up bar to increase your range of motion and increase the difficulty of this exercise.
Using Push-Up Bars
To use the push-up bars, place them on the floor in the same spot that you put your hands during a push-up. Grip the handles and perform a push-up as you normally would. If you can't do regular push-ups, you can simply drop your knees to the ground and do push-ups from that position. The push-up bars will still help if you are doing push-ups from your knees.
Increased Range of Motion
There are a few ways that you can make an exercise harder. You can increase the amount of repetitions that you do, you can do more sets, take shorter breaks, use more weight or you can increase range of motion. The science behind increasing range of motion is promising.
In a study published in January 2014 by Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, researchers looked at the differences between lifting weights with a shorter range of motion versus a longer one. They found that a longer range of motion is better for growing muscle and getting stronger. They also concluded that people who lift weights shouldn't sacrifice range of motion in an exercise so that they can lift more weight. If you're looking to make an exercise harder, try increasing the range of motion before increasing weight.
Another study, published in August 2012 by Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, looked at the difference between partial and full repetitions, but in the biceps. They also found that using a full range of motion increases strength significantly more than using a partial range of motion, but they found that muscle growth was only slightly greater in the full range of motion group.
A third study, this time looking at the difference between partial and full repetitions in the squat, was published in August 2013 by European Journal of Applied Physiology. They found that the group that used a larger range of motion in their squats gained more muscle in their thighs, got significantly stronger and even got better at jumping. The researchers also looked at the tendons in their knees to see if a larger range of motion is more beneficial for tendon strength and concluded that it doesn't make a difference.
Joint Benefits and Drawbacks
Some people may use push-up bars to protect their wrist. It's much easier on the wrist to use a bar because it doesn't have to bend back as far as if you had your hand on the floor. If you have wrist problems the bars will feel great as it keeps the joint neutral.
On the other hand, if you have shoulder issues the push-up bars may not help. The increased range of motion that you get from using them forces your shoulder to travel farther, which puts it at greater risk for injury. If you have any pre-existing shoulder problems you may want to avoid using this piece of equipment and do regular push-ups instead.
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: "Impact of Range of Motion During Ecologically Valid Resistance Training Protocols on Muscle Size, Subcutaneous Fat, and Strength"
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: "Effect of Range of Motion on Muscle Strength and Thickness"
- European Journal of Applied Physiology: "Effect of Range of Motion in Heavy Load Squatting on Muscle and Tendon Adaptations"