Best push up bars – Push up bars are the quintessential minimalist equipment, offering great value and portability while allowing you to enhance and improve on all your pushing movements.
Push up bars generally increase the range of motion on any given exercise, promoting better execution of the repetitions with the added confidence that a firm hand grip on a bar gives you compared to your palms pressing on the floor.
Extra range of motion means longer concentric and eccentric movements, with all the benefits that these entails on hypertrophy and strength gains.
Push up bars can conveniently be stored anywhere and easily be carried around while traveling, taking little space and weighing next to nothing but offering great workout capabilities in return.
They can be used to enhanced and improve all the classic pushing bodyweight exercises such as regular push ups, incline or decline push ups, wide grip or narrow grip push up, pseudo planche and planche push ups.
However, while they are a great tool for all the horizontal pushing movements, they also lack the necessary depth for vertical pushing movements like full range handstand push ups or other calisthenics exercises such as L sits.
For these exercises you may need parallettes, a kind of taller and longer push up bars that allow for parallel bar work but are easy and light to carry around, similarly to push up bars.
This post will focus on just push up bars.
Different Types Of Push Up Bars
There are 3 main types of push up bars:
Standard Push Up Bars – These are the regular push up bars that everyone is familiar with. Typically they consist of a simple U-shaped grip bar with two stabilizing bars at the bottom or a more fanciful S-shaped, one-piece tube design.
These are the cheapest option in that they are very simple to manufacture, with few luxuries like soft foam grips for you hands and the floor stabilizers.
These push up bars are the lightest to carry around and you can do any exercise with a fixed grip position.
They also last forever, as there is nothing that can possibly go wrong except for rust, if you do not store them indoor.
Rotating Push Up Bars – These are similar to regular push up bars with the added twist of a rotational grip bar that pivots on the floor base.
The contraption allows you to rotate your wrist while performing the push up, resulting in a higher muscular engagement.
You can also, of course, keep your wrists straight without rotating them, as you would with regular push up bars, but the instability of the handle calls for a little extra effort in performing the push ups.
Because of the inner mechanism and bearings, these type of push up bars are generally a little more expensive than the regular ones.
Push Up Boards – Technically, these are not bars, though they also include them, but a system of different grips for different pushing exercises, all encased into a board for easy transportation, storage and use.
The different bar positions are allocated different colors for easy identification, so you just choose the slots you need to perform a particular exercise and insert the bars into those slots, while the board acts as a stability base.
For the advanced user who knows how to position regular push up bars in order to engage different muscles, push up boards may be unnecessary.
However, for beginners unaware of bio-mechanics and how to target different muscles groups by changing hand position and/or leverage, push up boards offer a simple solution that prevents mistakes right from the start.
Our Top Picks
CAP Barbell Pair of Push Up Bars
Perfect Fitness Perfect Pushup Elite
Power Press Push Up
Best Standard Push Up Bars
321 STRONG Push Up Bars with Bonus Ebook
These heavy duty plastic push up bars come with a lifetime guarantee and never rust. They assemble by snapping the bars into the rails and are extremely light weight.
Given their feather weight and ease of assembly, they are particularly suited for people on the move, you can put them in your travel bag and won’t even notice they are there.
One peculiar feature is a slight incline of the bars, allegedly to offer better leverage, however some people find it a little too steep and would prefer a completely flat handle instead.
Do not be turned off my the construction material, for it is a very tough plastic that has been tested by hundreds of customers, including heavy weight guys, without a problem.
The bars offer a comfortable foam grip, but the cups on the base tend to slip on carpets or parquet tiles. If you have an expensive wooden floor, you’d better use a foam mat underneath to prevent scratches.
321 STRONG Push Up Bars features
- Heavy duty plastic construction that does not rust.
- Lifetime warranty.
- Holds up well to intense use and heavy people despite being light weight.
- It naps easily into place, is easy to assemble and suitable for traveling.
Check It On Amazon – $12.99 – 365 reviews
Garren Fitness Maximiza Push Up Bars
This are heavy duty, ultra tough push up bars made of one single piece of chrome steel, no welding or pieces to go wrong.
It comes in two versions:
- The Ultra version is manufactured to withstand up to 330lbs (150kg) for each bar, ideal for heavy people who do not want to chance it on plastic gear.
- The Classic version is manufactured to withstand up to 100kg (220lb) for each bar.
The difference between the two is just the thickness of the bar.
However they are still light and compact enough to be carried around in your bag for your hotel workouts.
These push up bars are manufactured to high standards, they are virtually unbreakable since they are made of one solid S-shaped steel pipe and offer quality grips for both your hands and the floor.
The hand grips come in two sizes to suit different hands, smaller or larger people.
The Garren Fitness push up bars can be used for all bodybuilding or crossfit purposes and is ideal for programs like Insanity or P90x.
Being very sturdy and offering quality grips, they are reported NOT to wobble or slip on the floor and offer the confidence of carry out quality workouts.
Garren Fitness Maximiza Push Up Bars Features:
- Sturdy and reliable bars made of a single chrome steel piece with no welding or pieces to break.
- Heavy duty push up bars ideal for strong or heavy people, especially the Ultra version.
- Very compact and easy to carry around while traveling.
- Durable chrome finish, it does not rust.
Check It On Amazon – $19.97 – 141 reviews
OUR PICK FOR STANDARD PUSH UP BARS
CAP Barbell Push Up Bars
These push up bars are among the most popular. While not particularly fancy, they offer exactly what they say on the tin and are strong and durable.
The U bars come separate from the 4 bases but the assembly is quick and straightforward, no tools required, just tighten the screws by hand.
This way, you can easily pack them in your bag for your travels or holidays.
The foam hand grips are adequate enough and usually last a few years, depending on use, before you need foam frip replacements.
More importantly, the rubber cups at the tip of the bases to their job well, preventing slipping around even on the shiniest floors.
The company does not offer specific load capacity guidelines, but hundred of customers have used these push up bars for years without breaking or bending issues.
CAP Barbell Push Up Bars Features:
- High-quality, electro-plated push up holders.
- Sturdy and durable push up bars tested by hundreds of customers.
- Very easy to assemble and dismantle, ideal when traveling.
- Effective rubber cups that do not make the bars slip ion the floor.
Check It On Amazon – $19.97 – 1391 reviews
Best Rotating Push Up Bars
SmarterLife Rotating Push Up Bars
The SmarterLife is an entry level rotating push up bar that does what it promises but also comes not without some quirks.
The rotating effect is courtesy of a bearings mechanism that allows you to rotate your wrists as you wish while performing your push ups.
This is so to prevent your wrists and shoulders from moving on fixed angles and planes as you would with standard bars.
This solution is especially welcome by those with weak wrists or wrist and shoulder issues, as the pushing movements adjust to your joint capabilities naturally.
The manufacturer claims a maximum capacity of 400 lbs and these bars have been used by many customers successfully.
The bars are compact and easy to store or carry away and offer good grip on surfaces.
However, they do not come with foam or rubber grips for your hand, something you should consider if you sweat through your hands and find plastic not grippy enough.
SmarterLife Rotating Push Up Bars Features:
- Lightweight rotating push up bars, only 2.2 pounds, easy to store and carry around.
- Smooth and effective rotating movement, the bearings do their job well.
- Up to 400 lbs load capacity.
- Made of non toxic materials free of PVC, phthalates and glues.
Check It On Amazon – $16.97 – 151 reviews
Perfect Fitness Perfect Pushup Rotating Push Up Bars
The entry-level rotating push up bars from Perfect Fitness are different than the original ones, but not necessarily better.
It does its job well and rotates smoothly as it is supposed to do, but the handles offer a thinner grip, being made of hard plastic only smooth on the top, while the old version featured a round rubber handle.
Still, for the price it offers good value and is being used by tons of customers.
The rotating motion is beneficial not just for people with wrist or shoulder problems but also for improving the effectiveness of the push ups, targeting muscle from different angles at the same time.
These push up bars were the original on the market from an idea of the US Navy SEAL to optimize the basic push up. They have been around for ages and are a classic staple of push up gear.
Perfect Fitness Perfect Pushup Rotating Push Up Bars Features:
- Ergonomic design activates muscles while reducing stress on wrists and shoulders.
- Suits all levels of fitness from beginner to advanced.
- Effective rotational mechanism works well.
- It is different than the original rotating push up bars from the same manufacturer.
Check It On Amazon – $18.99 – 464 reviews
OUR PICK FOR ROTATING PUSH UP BARS
Perfect Fitness Perfect Push Up Elite
The Perfect Fitness Elite are similar to the standard rotating push up bars, only better overall.
They are sturdier, up to 400 lbs load capacity, and offer better ergonomics, with meatier rubber grips for your hands and circular off-road-like floor grip.
They do not slip at all, are comfortable to use and offer a smoother action than the basic original.
Overall, these are commercial grade rotating push up bars. They are a tad heavier than other bars, 4 pounds , but the weight increase is justified by the quality these push up bars offer.
The Perfect Fitness Elite are a kind of gold-standard when it comes to this type of gear, they cost a few dollars more but they reward you with a better product that is built to last.
Complaints are few and rare in between and the overall consensus is that of a solid piece of equipment that delivers good manufacturing quality, sturdiness and very smooth rotating action for effective workouts.
These rotating push up bars hold well to weighted vest push up due to their sturdiness, ideal if you are an advanced trainee.
Perfect Fitness Perfect Pushup Elite features:
- Ideal For Weight Vest, 400-Pound weight capacity.
- Commercial grade manufacturing quality.
- Well designed ergonomics and comfortable to use.
- Effective and smooth rotating action.
Check It On Amazon – $26.99 – 1580 reviews
Best Push Up Boards
Iron Chest Master Push Up Machine
An unusual chest and shoulder tool with nutrition plan and workouts. This device works through a combination of sliding handles on rails and 6 resistance bands.
The point of the contraption is to make your pressing movement arch-like, giving you full range of motion and full resistance, like a combination of presses and cable flyes at the same time.
The gear is very light for its size , just 7 pounds, but it handles up to advanced trainees, though some have added extra resistance bands to make it harder and would like extra grade bands to be installed by default.
This machines makes each repetition work harder than a standard one, squeezing the muscle through the range.
Many customers report a beneficial carry over onto standard weight barbel and dumbbell presses. After using this machine, many have found their strength increased on standard weights.
This push up board is wide enough to accommodate people of larger size or with long arms.
Iron Chest Master Push Up Machine features:
- Arc Movement technology to develop more muscular chest and shoulders.
- 6 different resistance grades.
- It comes with workouts and nutrition plan.
- Increased repetition quality, full resistance across the range of motion.
- Increase in strength and carry over onto standard weight exercises.
Check It On Amazon – 76 reviews
OUR PICK FOR PUSH UP BOARDS
Power Press Push Up – Complete Push Up Training System
This is a clever color-coded board that let you slot the bars into the correct position to workout exactly a specific muscle group.
Red for shoulders, blue for chest, green for triceps and yellow for back.
Of course, there is no clear separation between different muscle groups, but the different positions stress more a targeted muscle group over the others.
This board is useful to keep your hand placement exactly where it is supposed to be rather than loosely placing your hands wide or narrow, or higher and lower.
This way, your workouts stay consistent and you know you are progressing if your numbers go up in any given position, whereas with standard push up bars tracking becomes more approximate due to the variations in position and hand placement from workout to workout.
This may be not much of a problem for advanced trainees who know very well where to place their hands to target different muscles, but for beginners and intermediates fixed positions are an advantage as they give you the opportunity to perform the exercises with proper form and posture.
Advanced users may find this system beneficial to stay consistent anyway. This push up board is relatively low weight, 10.4 pounds, and comes with a 10-week workout calendar plus a reference YouTube channel.
Power Press Push Up Features:
- 16 different color-coded bar positions to target chest, shoulders, triceps and back.
- Sturdy heavy duty board that does not flex.
- Beneficial especially for beginners and intermediates who need a template for correct hand placement and posture.
- You can easily mix up routines and do drop sets quickly with the different plug-and-train hand placements.
Check It On Amazon – 747 reviews
What To Look For When Choosing A Push Up Bar
Health And Safety
Push ups are closed kinetic chain exercises and as such much safer and bio-mechanically sound than open chain exercises like bench presses.
With you hands placed in a fixed position and your body free to move in space your joints and leverage work in a much more natural an safer way.
You can push yourself to the limit without worry of getting stuck under a barbell or tearing your pecs or shoulder while dropping a heavy dumbbell.
If you want safety first, push up bars are the way to go, as they allow you do do just that while increasing the range of motion of traditional floor push ups.
Material And General Manufacturing Quality
Some push up bars are chrome-plates, other are black, others still made of heavy duty plastic. Consider whether you need to store your push up bars indoor or outdoor and whether you prefer a single piece of gear without assembly or you do not mind screw together 2 or 3 pieces of gear.
Another feature to look for is whether the bars are flat or with an incline: choose what is best for you.
Portable Push Up Bars Or Boards?
By default, all push up bars are portable, some more than others as they can also be disassembled to take less space in your bag, but they all are light and inconspicuous and can be easily stored.
However, push up boards are too cumbersome and less suitable for travel, though ideal for beginners’ workout.
What Kind Of Push Up Bars Should You Choose?
Standard push up bars are used by the vast majority of people for their inherent simplicity and effectiveness. However, if you want to enhance your workouts with an extra twist, the rotating push up bars are also a good option, though a little more expensive because more complex to manufacture.
If you have wrist problems or are recovering from a rotator cuff injury, the rotating push up bar allow you for a safer and smoother movement, as your arm mechanics are not fixed in a plane but can freely mover around as needed.
On the other hand, push up board are suitable for beginners who need a template for the correct hand placement and body positioning. Other types of boards like the Iron Chest Master are also suitable for advanced trainees and offer quality resistance training that mimics a combination of presses and cable flyes.
Benefits Of Push Up Bars
Push up bars are one of the most inexpensive and good value pieces of equipment you can get. Sure, you could perform your push ups on the floor instead, but the the handle grip and extra height from the floor give increase the range of motion and effectiveness of your workouts.
You can also perform decline push up more easily, as you have more room to move before touching the floor with your head. And you can also use them for handstand push up to increase the range of motion of floor handstands once you are strong enough.
Hypertrophy And Strength
Push up bars can be used for all bodybulding or strength purposes. Just select the appropriate repetition range by adjusting hand or feet placement or by using a weighted vest as required.
If you are an advanced trainee who does push ups with weighted vests, then push up bars are a must, as they allow you to perform full range of motion push ups without the vest getting in the way.
Activating The Core
Since push up are horizontal movements, you’ll end up activating the core, abs and obliques, every time you workout. Make sure to do your push ups with correct posture, straight back through the movement with no sinking or arching.
How To Perform Push Ups
Depending on your push up bar placement and feet elevation, you can obtain substantial variations of resistance and muscle activation. generally speaking, the higher you go with your hands, the easier it is. The lower you get, the more difficult, as your body weight shifts more and more onto your hands.
Muscle activation is also the result of the width and wrist placements. The wider you get, the more you activate your chest, the narrower you get, the more you activate your shoulders.
Also, the the higher you place your push up bars, at shoulder level, the easier the exercise, the lower you place them along your sides, the more difficult, as you lift more and more of your body weight.
For regular push up , you keep your arms at about 45 degrees along your sides, not too wide open but not too narrow. This way you activate your chest through a natural pattern without risk of impingement or other injury.
If you want to place more emphasis on your shoulder, narrow the push up bars placement near your sides and lower down toward your hips with a neutral grip, palms facing each other
This will cause a transfer of activation from your chest into your shoulders and also a big shift of body weight into your hands, making this exercise considerably more difficult than regular push ups. It is called pseudo planche push up.
From there, with time and dedication you can work your way up to full planche push up, with your whole body lifting from the bars.
Think Health First
If you have shoulder or wrist problems, always consult your doctor first, as the push up bars increase the capabilities of floor push up and potentially the stress on tendons and joints too.
Progress with good form without cheating to squeeze few extra reps with bad form. Bad form places undue stress on joints and ligaments and will cause plateaus and setbacks in the long run.
It is better to perform 10 good and clean repetitions to muscle failure than 20 or more sloppy repetitions you got by bouncing, arching and doing half/range repetitions.
If you do not where to start and how to perform the movements correctly, the push up boards are a safe option, though they can never replicate the practicality of simple push up bars.
Conclusion On Push Up Bars
Do your own research to know what is best for your fitness levels, training history and personal life requirements. Push ups and its variations are one of the main movement of bodyweight or calisthenics training.
Push up bars help you enhance this fundamental exercise and offer unparalleled functionality. You can take them with you anywhere, so traveling or lack of gym facilities are not an excuse anymore.
As with everything in life, persistence and dedication is what will make push up bars work for you, not the equipment itself. Be motivated, and result will follow.