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Push-up bars are great for your wrists, experts say — if you buy the right kind

Fitness experts explain how to shop for push-up bars — and what features to avoid.
To help you find the best push-up bars, we spoke to fitness experts about how to shop for push-up bars and how they work.
To help you find the best push-up bars, we spoke to fitness experts about how to shop for push-up bars and how they work.Amazon

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Many of us have been exercising from home for — checks watch — years because of the Covid pandemic. And although some have cautiously returned to the gym, others may not feel comfortable enough to do so. In that case, there’s value in upgrading your existing home gym. And while there are some obvious additions you could make — among them barbells, dumbbells and stationary bikes — a pair of push-up bars can help you become more accustomed to performing push-ups daily, especially if you’re new to the exercise. A push-up bar helps straighten your wrist during your workout, allowing for a more comfortable position than you might have otherwise, explained Kyle Kercher, a strength and conditioning specialist who is certified as a personal trainer and exercise physiologist by the American College of Sports Medicine.

SKIP AHEAD What is a push-up bar? | Should you use a push-up bar? | Should you buy a rotating push-up bar?

In addition to making push-ups more easily attainable for those of us who haven’t historically pushed up, the push-up bar is also helpful for people who have wrist issues such as carpal tunnel, Kercher noted, or anyone seeking to reduce their wrist pressure while they exercise. Of course, if someone begins to experience regular wrist discomfort while performing push-ups, they should consult a medical professional (and ensure they’re using correct form for push-ups), said Kristin Traskie, the fitness and wellness coordinator at Michigan State University and a certified personal trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine.

To help you find the right push-up bar for you, we asked Kercher and Traskie how to shop for the best push-bars and found some highly rated options that met their guidance.

Best push-up bars in 2022

Experts told us to prioritize push-up bars made from steel or hardened plastic so you can be sure of their sturdiness, as well as options featuring padded handles for comfort. The push-up bars should also be relatively affordable (most experts recommended spending no more than $20) and no more than 7 inches off of the ground.

Finally, you should also look at weight ratings to be sure that the push-up bar you’re buying is the right size for your weight. “The weight rating should be higher than your body mass and weight,” said Traskie. “For example, if an individual weighs more than 200 pounds, the weight rating should be — at minimum — 50 pounds greater to prevent the bars from failing under their body weight.”

Based on the guidance experts gave us, as well as high ratings, we highlight some of the best push-up bars that check off all of these boxes.

Perfect Fitness Pushup Stands

Perfect Fitness has been around since the early 2000s and its stackable Perfect Fitness Pushup Stands is the first on Amazon’s list of bestselling push-up bars. These push-up bars come up a few inches off of the ground — customer reviews say about 3 inches — and they provide a flat, padded grip for comfort and a non-skid platform so you can easily use it on different surfaces. It’s rated to hold up to 300 pounds, the brand says. The Perfect Fitness Pushup Stands have a 4.6-star average rating from more than 3,700 reviews on Amazon. One thing that reviewers point out is that its shape is a little flat (and rectangular) compared to other more padded push-up bars, so make sure that will work for you.

Redipo Push Up Bars

Redipo’s Push Up Bars are made from polypropylene and steel, and include foam hand pads. The push-up bars come up 5 inches off of the ground — a little taller than the Perfect Fitness Pushup Stands — but like the Perfect bars, the Redipo Push Up bars are rated to hold 300 pounds, according to the brand. You can also disassemble the Redipo bars in case you need to bring them with you on a trip or store them in a stuffed closet for the long-term. The Redipo Push Up Bars have a 4.4-star average rating from more than 3,500 reviews on Amazon.

CAP Barbell Pushup Bars

CAP Barbell’s Pushup Bars consist of chrome-plated metal bars with a foam padding for ease of use. They come about 3 inches off of the ground and they’re rated to hold about 300 pounds, CAP says. It doesn’t appear that you can store them on top of one another, like the Perfect Fitness Pushup Stands, but you can assemble and disassemble them for travel or storage. They have a 4.5-star average rating from more than 3,000 reviews on Amazon.

N1Fit Push Up Bars

The N1Fit Push Up Bars are made of polyvinyl chloride (a hard plastic) and they have comfortable foam grips to make your push-ups feel more supported, N1Fit says. Like the Redipo Push Up Bars, the N1Fit Push Up Bars come about 5 inches off of the ground to elevate you further in the air than the Perfect Fitness Pushup Stands and the CAP Barbell Pushup Bars. N1Fit says they are rated to hold up to 250 pounds, a little bit less than the other push-up bars here. And reviewers praise the N1Fit Push Up Bars for how easy they are to assemble. They have a 4.2-star average rating from more than 2,200 reviews on Amazon.

Readaeer Push Up Bars

Made from hard plastic, the Readaeer Push Up Bars have a comfortable — and colorful — cushioned foam grip around the handles, Readaeer says. Similar to most of the other push-up bars we’ve looked at here, they come about 5 inches off of the ground. Though they aren’t rated to hold a specific weight, there are many customer reviews from customers who say they weigh over 200 pounds and use the push-up bars just fine. The Readaeer bars are easily assembled and disassembled for transport or storage. The Readaeer Push Up Bars have a 4.5-star average rating from more than 900 reviews on Amazon.

What is a push-up bar?

A push-up bar is a tool — made from steel or hardened plastic — that helps a person’s arms remain in a more comfortable position during push-up exercises. It is designed to reduce wrist strain, too, by encouraging your wrist to sit straight during a push-up. It also elevates the difficulty of the push-up by increasing the range of motion, depending on the height of the push-up bars. Typically buying “a push-up bar” means buying a set of two push-up bars, one for each hand.

Should you use a push-up bar?

Push-up bars are also good to use if you’re a beginner who hasn’t built a push-up routine yet, said Kercher.

“The biggest advantage [of using push-up bars] is wrist position,” said Michael Boyle, co-founder of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning gym in Woburn, Massachusetts. When doing a push-up, “I would rather you[r hands] be positioned like you’re going to punch somebody, with your knuckles down,” Boyle said. Because you’re gripping the bars, your arms and wrists remain straight. If you perform push-ups with your hands flat on the floor and your wrists bent, you may experience wrist pressure — and discomfort.

Beyond the health of your wrist, another benefit of using push-up bars is an enhanced range of motion during the push-up. “Any strength exercise benefits from using a full range of motion, and [push-up bars] allow you to get a little deeper” than you would otherwise, said Kercher.

What muscles are you exercising when you’re using a push-up bar?

Using a push-up bar — similar to many pressing exercises — primarily works the chest and triceps. “Any time you’re extending your elbow joint, that’s a tricep exercise, and it’s a chest exercise because you’re moving that upper arm forward,” said Kercher. Another good thing about developing a push-up bar habit, experts told us, is that you’re playing with multiple joints, which means you’re working multiple muscle groups.

Should you buy a rotating push-up bar?

Although there are some highly rated rotating push-up bars to choose from, our experts warned against looking at them. “If someone had a really good reason [to use a rotating push-up bar], then sure,” Kercher said. “If they’ve already developed a push-up habit and a strength training habit, then that might be doing something they could get up to.”

If you’re new to push-up bars, a rotating push-up bar adds an unnecessary level of instability to your workout. Boyle also noted that, although he personally enjoys the spinning aspect of rotating push-up bars, the rotating function tends to get sticky and stops working well relatively quickly in his experience.

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