Should I Use Push Up Handles? Why They Differ From Standard

by Josh | Last Updated:  September 9, 2020
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The push-up is one of the most notorious and widely known bodyweight exercises available to anyone. It is primarily a chest activator and can be incorporated into any workout and anybody with a moderate fitness level can perform this movement anywhere as it requires no equipment.

For some, regular push-ups eventually become static or too easy to perform. This would lead push-up enthusiasts to seek other methods to activate the chest muscles. So, should you be using push-up handles?

Push-up handles are essentially bars you place on the floor, which you put your hands on to perform various push-up variations. Push-up handles come in many shapes and forms, from vertical or horizontal standpoints, to rotating pivots.

If you are looking to increase muscle activation, learn new variations, improve your form, or simply relieve wrist pain from normal push-ups, then you should definitely consider the use of push-up handles.

Before purchasing a pair of handles and putting them to use, it is best to know the difference between push-up handles and regular push-ups, what the benefits of the handles are, and what the research on this piece of equipment states.

What’s the Difference Between Push-Up Handles and Regular Push-Ups?

When it comes to performance, there are many differences between using push-up handles and regular push-ups.

The main difference between the two is that push-up handles are a piece of equipment, whereas regular push-ups just require your body. Push-up handles actually offer many more chest workout variations than the standard push-up, which is why some may want to begin using push-up handles.

Another factoring difference is that push-up handles allow your forearms, wrists, and hands to line up better. Regular push-ups require a little bit of a bend in the wrists to perform, so anyone with ongoing wrist issues may want to use push-up handles instead.

A Woman in plank position using push up stands - Should I Use Push Up Handles
A Woman in plank position using push up stands

What are the Benefits of Using Push-Up Handles?

There are many benefits that come when choosing to use push-up handles.

The main benefits of push-up handles that most can attribute to is wrist health and form. While performing regular push-ups, a slight bend in the wrist is needed to complete a full range of motion.

Constant pressure and bend in the wrists can eventually lead to wrist pain, especially for those that perform push-ups on a regular basis. This constant pressure on the wrists could also lead to poor form, causing further pain in other joints in various parts of the body.

Push-up handles fix this problem. Having a bar to grip on while doing push-ups will allow your hands, wrists, and forearms to line up properly, thus relieving wrist pain and avoiding poor form during the movement.

Push-up handles also allow you to change grip position in order to specifically target certain muscle groups in order to strengthen that part.

For example, if you are trying to learn one-armed push-ups, you can adjust the position of the handles in a diamond shape, which will primarily target your triceps, and thus getting ever closer to performing a one-armed push-up.

If you wanted to build and strengthen your upper chest more, you could use a reverse grip, which will activate the upper chest fibers. Finally, if you wanted to strengthen your abs, you could even go as far as performing, L-sits, planks, or ab extensions. There are many possibilities when it comes to using push-up handles.

A final benefit that a lot of callisthenic goers will support, is that it creates more of a challenge. After mastering the basic push-up with a solid form, using push-up handles can allow you to break through the barrier of a normal push-up into other variations.

This will result in the strengthening of other muscles. This piece of equipment is an essential tool for people that workout primarily with their bodyweight and want to master the push-up in all forms.

What Does Research Say About the Use of Push-Up Handles?

There are many studies that suggest push-up handles don’t contribute to any added muscle mass compared to basic push-ups. This is true only to an extent.

If you have perfect form in your basic push-ups, you will gain muscle with a right mix of sleep and nutrition, but if your form is poor, you won’t activate your chest muscles properly.

You will only be putting more pressure on other joints, furthering poor form and increasing chances of injury. This is when push-up handles can help you gain muscle.

Since poor form in basic push-ups won’t lead to any muscle growth, using a push-up handle can help fix this problem, especially those with wrist issues.

Again, using push-up handles will help hand, wrist, and forearm alignment, which will drastically contribute to better form in push-ups. Better form, will ultimately lead to better muscle activation, which then leads to that desired muscle growth.

When it comes to muscle growth between the use of push-up handles and basic push-ups, it is actually the form of the push-up that matters most.

Related Questions to Push Up Stands

Does using different grip positions matter?

Yes, grip positions do matter. By changing the position of your push-up grip, you will put more emphasis on specific parts of the muscles. Using a neutral grip (normal grip) will primarily activate the chest, triceps, and shoulder muscles.

Using a pronated grip (palms forward) will activate the biceps and some back muscles. Using a supinated grip (reverse grip) will put more emphasis on the upper chest rather than the whole.

By implementing different grips and positioning, you will target and strengthen different muscles in your body.

How much do push-up handles cost?

The cost of push-up handles will vary depending on the quality, the grip size, whether it rotates or not, and of course the brand. Most commonly though, a good pair of handles will usually run between 10-40 dollars.

Can push-up handles be used for anything other than push-ups?

Yes they can. You can use push-handles for ab workouts such as L-sits, or for triceps dips. If you’re feeling capable, even handstand push-ups. Other than push-ups, the next best muscle group to target is the abdomen.

Should I perfect the basic push-up form before moving on to push-up handles?

This depends on the individuals own physicality. Primarily, yes you should. Perfecting the basic push-up should always be the first goal before moving on to a piece of equipment that allows other forms of the push-up.

The one exception is if you have wrist issues that lead to poor form in the basic push-up position. Some peoples’ wrists bend too much and cause too much discomfort, so switching to handles can actually relieve this unnecessary pressure on the joints.

Final Thoughts on Should I Use Push Up Handles

Fitness experts will argue that push-ups are one of the, if not, best workouts to perform, especially if you’re into calisthenics or you don’t have any equipment.

Despite this, some may prefer to switch from basic push-ups to push-up handles for various reasons. If you suffer from wrist pain, have poor form, or you’ve mastered the basic push-ups and you want a new challenge, then you should definitely use push-up handles to your advantage.

Although you should learn perfect form in the basic push-up before moving on to the handles, it is the individual’s decision to take in all the factors of using handles over the basic form.

In the end, push-up handles are a great push-up tool, so anybody that’s into fitness, or wants to begin working out, should definitely make use of push-up handles.

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