One of the most basic exercises out there and it is so much underrated. The push up. It is especially underrated when it comes to muscle building and strength training. But also as a general fitness exercise it is neglected. The other thing about push ups is, that it is performed often with such bad form I have to look away. And this where resistance bands come into play. Push ups are too easy? Grab a resistance band and say it again. Push ups are still a challenge? We will show you how to actually build up your form and strength to perform your first push up without assistance.
In the first part of this article, we will show you how to execute a push correctly and how to do it with resistance bands properly and in the second part, you find some tips to make the push up harder and more effective to get you the pump you’re looking for.
Push Up Done Correctly
Let’s first take care of how to do a perfect push up before we introduce any resistance bands sweetness to it. It is not really hard but you need to practice it in the beginning very consciously so that your body memorizes the correct form.
- In the starting position (top) place your hands shoulder wide apart or slightly narrower
- this will put less stress on your shoulders and keep them healthy for years to come
- Lower your body by bending your elbows
- Don’t push your elbows out at 90 degrees to your body
- Rather keep 45 degrees at most or even closer to your body
- The closer your hands are together the closer your elbows should be towards your body on the decline
- On the way down you will actually go forward with your body
- This will ensure that you have a 90 degree angle towards the ground with your forearms at the bottom position
- Stay in the bottom position for 1 count and then explode back up
This is the basic push up form folks. Not hard but takes a little while to get used to and do it perfect every single rep.
Push Up With Resistance Band
Now let’s jump right into how you do the basic push up with resistance bands.
Band VS Weights & Machines
Doing your push ups with a resistance band gives you several advantages over doing them with a machine or with free weights.
- Follow the natural strength curve of your muscle! The resistance of a band will always increase the more you stretch it and that’s also the natural strength curve of your muscle, having the most power in the full contraction. With weights, you often fatigue in the expanded part of your muscle without fully fatiguing the whole muscle.
- Stability, control & core! When you do work with a band, your body needs to hold the band in more than one direction so you will also work a lot on your stabilizing muscles and your core as well.
- Variations & Home Workout! You can not only work out your chest with bands, but there are exercises for your whole body which you can overload as good or better than with weights. And bands transform an exercise like push ups (easy after a while) into a limitless potential exercise.
- Joint Friendly & Less Disbalances! When using a bar you’re more fixed in your hand position and put more stress on your joints while bands let you get in a more natural hand position and prevent injuries.
There are also more reasons to favor resistance bands over traditional free weights or machines, like reducing the stress on your joints, getting more peak contraction, and many more. But we’re talking here about doing a push up, so if you’re interested in background info about what benefits resistance bands give you in strength training and bodybuilding, check it out here.
How To Push Up The Right Way With Resistance Bands
We covered how to perform a basic push up with perfect form. Now it is time to introduce the resistance bands. In this section we will cover how to add resistance with bands and how to use bands as a tool to reduce resistance and get you to your first body weight push up.
Add Resistance With Bands
Adding a resistance band to your push is actually quite intuitive. Simply grab the band with both hands, bring it over your head and rest it on your upper back. Then go into your push up position and perform the push up as described above. What I like to do is holding the push up in the top position for a couple of counts. The band will give you the most resistance at the top and that’s what we take advantage of to get a good pump.
An alternative set up would be to not to put the bands over your arms/shoulders, but rather have them on the inside more towards your armpits. I really like this set up personally. The one above I find it hard to keep the bands in one spot. They tend to shift around. With this set up they will stay in place and don’t rub on your arm skin.
Lower Resistance With Bands
This is what I love about resistance bands. You can use them with a little creativity in a variety of ways. And this we will have a look on now. If a regular push up is still too hard or you can only do one or two and you want to build up the technique and the strength to be able to do more, stay tuned.
For this one we will need an anchor point. A door anchor is perfect for that, costs only a few bucks and you double the exercise selection you can do with bands.
Attach the door anchor at the top of the door and fix the band to the anchor. Now take the band, go inside the loop and place the band around your lower chest. Go into a push up position and you will find that the band will support you. The further down you go the more tension the band will have and it will pull you upwards. It is basically your spotter.
If you have mini loop bands there is even an easier set up. Grab a mini band, put both of your arm inside the loop and place the band above your elbows. Perform a push up and you will find that your upper body will stretch the band the further down you go. On the way up the band will release that tension and help you in getting up. this set up is also great because it will help you to keep your arms int he right position and not let those elbows flare out.
Push Up Variation With Resistance Bands
There are two possibilities to spice up your push ups.
Changing The Hand Position
Push up are so great because you can simply change your hand position and shift the focus toward a different muscle group. The closer your hand positions is the more stress you will put on the triceps. The further apart the more your chest has to work. So there is no way it will get boring with those push ups!
Elevating Your Feet
The other plane is your legs. Depending on the elevation of your legs you will also target different muscles. The higher your legs the more shoulder involvement there will be. The lower the more your chest has to work.
So the push up is a great playground with unlimited possibilities. Start playing around with hand positions and feet elevation. It is a great way to challenge yourself and not letting the training get boring.
By the way if you find anybody telling you to do push ups with a mini band around your wrists, like you might have seen somewhere else… Send them home. This set up will do absolutely nothing for you. Since your hands are locked in place by your body weight, the band doesn’t have any use. It will neither add nor lower the resistance.
Get Your Pump
If that doesn’t get you that pump and feeling that your chest is basically exploding, here are some tips that will help you work that muscle to the ground.
Shorten The Band – many people make the mistake to use a band with a resistance level that’s simply too high for the exercise. The full effect of bands results from getting the right resistance and if you use a band that’s too heavy you can’t get a clean range-of-motion and clean reps and get lower progress.
Instead of taking a stronger band simply shorten the band, you use and you can do that perfectly by wrapping it around your hand once or twice and get the extra resistance without losing the ability to do clean reps.
That’s also one reason why I don’t like the resistance bands with handles attached to it and prefer the loop-style bands.
Double Time – If you feel that there is only a little bit of resistance missing and a jump to the next thicker band would be too much, simply add a second one of the lighter ones. It will give just that extra resistance you’re looking for without taking it over the top.
Time Under Tension – compared to weights where you have the same force applied to any position of the movement, bands will add more resistance the further you stretch them – this will lower the time under tension your muscle has during a set in the starting position. Focus on doing the exercise controlled and try to hold it for a second or two in the fully contracted position and don’t let the band snap back but slowly go back to the starting position.
Full Chest Workout
Simply doing push up is a good step towards a great chest but it’s not a full chest workout as there are multiple muscles working in your chest – we have here a full chest workout with different exercises that will give you the strongest pump you can ever think of – check it out here.