Push-ups are one of the most famous exercises ever invented, and for good reason! Push-ups are a staple movement in any balanced exercise regime. There are variations from beginner to advanced, and endless ways to modify either the equipment or technique to target specific muscles. Perhaps the very best thing about push-ups is simply how accessible they are. The most basic versions require zero equipment, and can be modified to suit any level of fitness.
Despite how accessible push-ups are, you may still be wondering why you need to incorporate them into your routine. They’re not the most flashy or exciting exercise, but it’s one of the foundation movements for overall strength and fitness.
We’re going to delve into both why you should, and how to do different types of push-ups using a versatile piece of equipment called parallel bars. Parallel bars can be used to workout any part of the body, despite being mainly known for working muscles used in dips. They also offer unique advantages for push-ups specifically, which are outlined below.
3 Important Reasons To Do Push-ups
- Push-ups Recruit Large Muscle Groups
Push-ups are what’s known as a “functional movement.” This means the movement recruits large muscle groups simultaneously in a way that is applicable to how you would use them in real-life situations. The opposite of this is an isolation exercise which only targets one muscle group at a time. Training for isolated movements does not translate as well to real-world strength and mobility as effectively as functional movements do. Push-ups therefore not only burn more calories and take more effort than isolated movements, but they also help make day-to-day strength related tasks easier.
- Contribute To Good Posture and Back Health
Strength training overall is known to be important for optimal health and performance. Push-ups in particular can help to correct the common posture problems seen from modern living. This can prevent back pain, headaches, and a host of other issues. Most people live a fairly sedentary lifestyle of sitting, slouching, and looking down at their phones or a computer for hours. Over time, this creates a forward slouching posture with weakened core stability and tightness in the front of the body. Push-ups help reverse this pattern by utilizing core stability, and improving shoulder and chest mobility.
- Both a Cardiovascular and Strength Exercise
The important reason to incorporate push-ups into any exercise program is because of how they contribute to overall health. Most people tend to think of push-ups as a strength exercise, which they certainly are, but they provide additional health benefits by contributing to cardiovascular health as well. Strength or resistance training is incredibly important because it builds or maintains muscle mass and physical ability. This is especially important for older individuals who are at greater risk of age-related muscle loss. Strength training also improves bone density, increases metabolism, improves posture, and reduces risk of injury. Push-ups can help with all of these factors.
The cardiovascular benefit of push-ups occurs with high repetitions. These repetitions can be done with whatever variation is at an appropriate level of intensity and difficulty for the individual’s fitness level. The low intensity, high-rep variety of push-ups allows heart rate to increase, which improves circulation, energy, can help prevent several diseases, and can even strengthen the immune system.
Push-up Variations With Parallel Bars
With all of these impressive benefits of pushups considered, let’s get straight into discussing what variations to incorporate into your daily regime. Push-up variations can range from zero equipment varieties to ones that use push-up bars, parallel bars, benches, dumbbells, bosu balls, and more. The type of equipment used doesn’t necessarily correlate with difficulty, but simply offers more opportunity to experiment with variations that train slightly different skills and muscles.
We’re going to focus exclusively on pushups variations that can be done using parallel bars. These can be found at many gyms and fitness facilities, or they can be purchased online for affordable prices.
The main benefit offered from parallel bars in particular is that they can ease wrist pain that sometimes occurs with the wrist flexion regular push-ups require. They do this by keeping the wrist in a neutral position. Additionally, they can improve grip strength, can improve muscle activation, increase range of motion, and require more core effort than many other push-up variations.
Without further ado, here are 12 types of push-ups to do on parallel bars.
- Standard Push-up
This one is self-explanatory. Simply perform a regular pushup with both hands gripping the parallel bars. Keep the wrists straight and lower until shoulders have reached their maximum point of comfortable mobility.
- Incline Push-up
The incline push-up is an excellent variation for beginners. By increasing the height of the hands in comparison to the feet, the incline allows you to perform a push-up with less upper body effort. All parallel bars will offer a slight incline, and some can even adjust their height to offer the perfect amount of challenge for the user.
- Modified Push-up
This is another excellent option for beginners. The modified push-up is the same as a regular pushup done on parallel bars, with the slight difference of the knees being placed on the floor instead of the toes.
- Spiderman Push-up
The spiderman push-up in an intermediate move. It’s done by performing a standard push-up on parallel bars, but adding the movement of drawing one knee out to the side towards the armpit at the bottom of the push-up. This variation is best done on parallel bars since the additional height gives more room for the knee to reach outwards.
- Push-ups with Knee Drive
This version is similar to the previous. However, instead of reaching the knee out to the side, you draw it underneath the torso up towards the chest at the height of the pushup. Parallel bars also increase the effectiveness of this move by adding height.
- Shoulder Tap Push-up
The shoulder tap push-up is by performing a standard push-up on parallel bars and releasing one hand to tap the opposite shoulder at the top of the movement. This should be done with alternating hands for each rep. The addition of shoulder taps will increase the amount of core stabilization required.
- Single Leg Push-up
The single leg push-up is another great variation to increase core stabilization and strength. This is done the same as a standard push-up on parallel bars, but with one leg lifted a few inches off the floor. This can be done on one leg for one set, or as alternating repetitions.
- Staggered Push-up
The staggered push-up is a variation that can only be done with certain types of equipment. If your parallel bars are easily moveable, you can perform a staggered push-up by placing one bar further forward to emphasize the effort on one side at a time. If the bars are long enough, this can also be done by reaching one hand further forward on the bar than the other.
- Slow Negative
A slow negative push-up is done on parallel bars by focusing on slowing lowering the torso down to the depth of the movement and pushing up as regular.
- Diamond Push-up
The diamond push-up is a challenging option that can be done on parallel bars by placing both hands on the same bar with the fists stacked on top of one another horizontally. This will require a significant more amount of tricep strength compared to a standard push-up.
- Wide Push-up
The wide push-up can be done by placing the hands further apart than usual during the push-up which will strengthen the outer portion of the chest.
- Explosive Push-up
This final push-up variation to do on parallel bars is a challenging one. It’s done with similar form to a regular push-up, but with more explosive upwards push to the extent that the hands lift off the bars and must grab them again when landing. This version can be dangerous if the skill of grabbing the bars on the downward portion of the movement is not well established.
With this huge range of push-up variations available to different skill levels, there’s plenty of reason to invest in parallel bars or join a gym with access. The sky’s the limit for building on push-up abilities when care is placed on technique, consistency and investment in the proper equipment.