If you're looking for an improvement on the regular old push up, you could do worse than introducing the resistance band version of push ups into your daily training regime. Using the bands makes for a more effective workout, and can also significantly lower your risk of strain or injury. We've looked at the advantages of this type of push up, and the different methods of executing it below.
How do I add resistance to my push ups?
Classic push ups are a great exercise to build your chest muscles, shoulders, and triceps, but as a bodyweight exercise, they are limited in terms of how much muscle development you can expect. To increase the load on your muscles, you can add weight in the form of a weight vest, but this can harm your joints, particularly the shoulders, as we'll explain below.
An alternative way to add extra resistance to your push ups is to use a resistance band. Pull up bands are the ideal size and shape for the job, or you can adapt a general-purpose band. Unlike weights, these do not create additional joint stress, and in fact, assist with correct posture through each stage of the exercise.
What muscles do resistance push ups work?
As with the classic version of this exercise, the key muscles which are used during a banded pull up are the chest muscles, specifically the pecs; the biceps and triceps in the upper arm; the muscles of the shoulder and upper back; and to an extent the abdominals and core.
What are the benefits of resistance band push ups?
The main benefit of the resistance band push up is the variance in muscle load towards the end of the movement. Basically, with a classic push up or weighted push up, as you lower your body towards the ground, the load on your muscles remains the same. This bottom part of the pushup, as your arms are splayed at the shoulder, is the point at which the risk of injury is highest.
Removing some of this load, as you approach the lowest point of the push up, reduces this risk. This is precisely what happens with push up resistance bands - as you lower your body, the band is less tightly stretched, and therefore the load decreases.
A side effect of this variance in load, which is also beneficial, is that it requires you to maintain a controlled movement all the way to the floor. Compare that to a standard push up, where you essentially relax your muscles, allowing gravity to bring your body down to the lowest point of the exercise.
How to do push ups with resistance bands
There are a couple of different ways to do push ups involving resistance bands.
The most common version of the exercise requires a long looped resistance band, which is secured beneath your palm on each side ( or looped around a push up grip if you have one available) and runs over and across your back, roughly in the middle of your shoulder blades. You then complete a push up in the usual way.
An alternative version uses two short looped resistance bands, one for each arm. In this exercise, the band passes below the palm as before, but then loops around the upper arm, roughly at the bottom of the deltoid. It's essential to ensure that you use precisely the same band on each arm, and the same positioning, to avoid an imbalance. Even using one older and one newer band from the same manufacturer is not advised, as older bands may lose some of their resistance over time.
Whichever method you choose, it's vital to pick the right band. Start with a lower resistance than you might think you need, as it's important to perfect your form before maximizing the muscle load. And remember to keep all stages of the movement gradual and controlled, not allowing the band to pull you towards the floor, but allowing your muscles to take the strain and lower you smoothly.