Does the Perfect Pushup Product Really Give You Results? We Tested It

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The Perfect Pushup tool claims to boost benefits beyond the standard push-up.
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The Perfect Pushup promises big arms, a ripped chest and a cut abdomen, but does it really deliver? We tested the original Perfect Pushup as well as the newer Elite model, compared it to a regular push-up and looked at the research to see if the product holds up to its claims.

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The Perfect Pushup consists of two handles on small rotating platforms, designed to work with the natural movement of your arms and shoulders. It claims to reduce the bodily stress you experience with the standard push-up exercise, but some research shows that it offers no true difference in muscle activation.

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Bottom Line

If you feel the Perfect Pushup will get you motivated to exercise more, then by all means — use it. We tested both versions and they perform as advertised. As long as you are using it correctly, it's not unsafe.

If, however, you're expecting gains from the Perfect Pushup superior to those you get from the standard push-up, you may be disappointed.

How the Perfect Pushup Works

Navy SEAL veteran Alden Mills invented the Perfect Pushup to address the injuries he saw from people constantly performing military-style push-ups. His argument was that standard push-ups do not allow the muscles of the chest, shoulders and arms to rotate as they contract, leading to muscle imbalance and possible injury.

To perform a push-up on the Perfect Pushup, place the Perfect Pushup platforms about shoulder-distance apart. Hold the handles and, as you bend your elbows to push up and down, your hands and arms rotate 90 degrees.

For those who are beginners, you can perform the Perfect Pushup on your knees instead of the classic plank position. For those who want more of a challenge, you can perform the Perfect Pushup on an elevated surface, like a box. The Perfect Pushup instructions also offer other push-up variations, including an arm sweeper version, wall push-up and Pilates push-up.

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Perfect Pushup Original

Reps 10
Region Full Body
  1. Place the Perfect Pushup original model on the ground, slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Place your hands on each handle, with your hands horizontal and your thumbs pointing toward each other.
  3. Place your toes on the ground behind you, with your body straight out and in a plank position and your arms straight (or place your knees on the floor to modify).
  4. Brace your core as you lower yourself down, while rotating your hands until your thumbs are pointing up.
  5. Press your body back up, rotating your hands until your thumbs are facing each other or back in the starting position.
  6. Continue this motion 8 to 10 times.

Perfect Pushup Elite

Reps 10
Region Full Body
  1. Place the Perfect Pushup Elite on the ground, slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Place your hands on each handle, with your hands horizontal and your thumbs pointing toward each other.
  3. Place your toes on the ground behind you, with your body straight out and in a plank position and your arms straight (or place your knees on the floor to modify).
  4. Brace your core as you lower yourself down, while rotating your hands until your thumbs are pointing up.
  5. Press your body back up, rotating your hands until your thumbs are facing each other or back in the starting position.
  6. Continue this motion 8 to 10 times.

Tip

To target your triceps, move the platforms slightly closer than shoulder width.

Perfect Pushup Original vs. Elite

The Perfect Pushup comes in a basic original model ($25) and a newer Elite model ($32). They both have a ton of positive Amazon reviews: the Elite model has 4.7 stars over 16,000 ratings and the original model has 4.5 stars over 5,000 ratings.

The Elite model has longer and more cushioned handles compared to the original model. It also has a larger base (8 inches x 8 inches) compared to the original model (6.75 inches x 6.75 inches). The original sits slightly higher off the ground (4.75 inches compared to 4.5 inches of the Elite), whereas the Elite weighs more (3.4 pounds compared to the 1.08 pounds of the original). The maximum weight compacity of the Elite is 400 pounds compared to the 300 pounds maximum compacity of the original.

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Perfect Pushup Product Review

Because of the larger base and well-padded handles, I preferred the Elite model over the original. The Elite model feels more sturdy, provides added support and has an improved ergonomic grip than the original model. The Elite model also feels like it rotates more smoothly than the original model.

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If you plan on traveling with Perfect Pushup, the original model is smaller and lighter, otherwise, the Elite model is more ergonomic and could be worth the extra money.

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As far as performance, I felt like my muscles were more tired and got a better workout after doing two sets of 15 Perfect Pushups (using the Elite model) versus the same number of regular floor push-ups.

Because of the rotating handles, I felt like I was working my abdominal muscles to stabilize myself and my chest muscles (specifically my pecs) more than a regular pushup.

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Even with the more padded handles of the Elite, I did start feeling a little discomfort with the handle pushing on my hands with the Perfect Pushup. If I am doing several sets of push-ups, I would switch between regular push-ups and the Perfect Pushup to avoid hand discomfort.

On the other hand, if you have restricted wrist motion and can't bend your wrist fully, you may find the Perfect Pushup handles more comfortable than a regular push-up.

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What Does the Research Say?

The literature provided with the Perfect Pushup says that the rotating handles promote "optimal natural movement" and "use more stabilizer muscles." It also says it "maximizes strength while helping to reduce joint strain." But it's not clear that it's better than a regular push-up.

Only a couple of studies have been done on the device, and they're older. A 2010 study in the ‌Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research‌ had 20 healthy subjects perform standard push-ups and Perfect Pushup (the original model) from three different hand positions: shoulder distance, wide and narrow.

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After measuring muscle activation using electromyography (EMG) at the triceps, pectoralis major, serratus anterior and posterior deltoids, this study determined that the Perfect Pushup did not enhance muscular recruitment in these specific muscles.

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A 2009 study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) did a similar study of 13 healthy male students. They had them perform the Perfect Pushup (also the original model) and a standard pushup at the same three different hand positions described above.

They compared the muscle contraction using EMG at the pectoralis major and triceps as well, but also included the anterior deltoid (instead of the posterior deltoid in the previous study) and the trapezius muscle. They found that the Perfect Pushup elicited more muscle activation in the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid and the triceps in the standard and wide position compared to a regular push-up.

The researchers of this study theorized that, because of the elevated platform, the Perfect Pushup takes you through a greater range of motion which activates your muscles more.

Before definite conclusions can be drawn, more current research needs to be done on the Perfect Pushup, using both the Elite and the original model, on a larger and more diverse population. The studies also need to look at how the Perfect Pushup compares to regular push-ups with activation of other muscles, including the abdominal muscles, rotator cuff muscles and back muscles.

Benefits of the Perfect Pushup

If the Perfect Pushup inspires you to do more push-ups, then it's going to give you results. It may also encourage you to explore a broader range of motion, given the elevated handles.

The handles also neutralize your wrist, meaning your joints don't have to bend to hold you up during the push-up. This can diminish wrist pain.

The Perfect Pushup encourages a slow, methodical pace, so you end up using more muscle and less momentum. This could help you get a little more activation through the muscles if you tend to pump out push-ups super quickly.

As far as determining if the Perfect Pushup is better than a regular push-up for muscle activation and strength, more research needs to be done. The elevated platform does take you through a wider range of motion which could recruit more muscles, however, dumbbell push-ups could also have the same effect. The rotating handles could also recruit more muscles in the shoulders, abdominals and back than a regular push-up, but that hasn't been verified by any recent studies.

Regardless if you do a Perfect Pushup or regular push-up, the study in the ‌Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research‌ concluded that both types of push-ups activate the muscles enough to build strength.

Warning

People who have existing rotator cuff injuries or joint issues should avoid the Perfect Pushup, as it might be too aggressive on the elbows and shoulders. If you are pregnant, have a recent back injury or other recent injuries, talk to your doctor first.

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