Are Perfect Pushups a workout gadget worth having? Let’s look at them in comparison to push-ups as mankind has done them for eternities.
The Perfect Pushup?
I have done thousands of push-ups in just about every color and form. From wide over narrow to declined and staggered – you name it. The beauty of it always was to me that they don’t require any equipment and yet deliver results.
Which is why I’m very sceptical when some gadget tries to tell me it can make them better.
But with the praise Perfect Pushups receive, I asked a friend to lend me his pair and for two weeks put them through the paces. Could they really improve an exercise that is this close to perfect?
What Are They?
Perfect Pushups are plates about a handspan wide, with a handle on top. This top rotates while the bottom stays in place, which is supposed to activate more muscles than regular push-ups:
So much for the ad blurb. How did they do when I compared them to the regular push-up?
The first thing apparent to me was that I got more action from the stabilizing muscles holding arms and upper body in place.
When you do normal push-ups, your hands stay in the same orientation. With the Perfect Pushups, the body has to take the twisting motion into account and still follow the correct movement pattern. This asks for more work from the stabilizers.
To me that was a nice and interesting change, more exhausting than a regular push-up.
What I noticed next was that a lot of the action came from my shoulders and triceps. I felt that my pecs worked more, but not to the point where I get them when I do wide and weighted push-ups or dumbbell presses. I reckon it’s because the movement is a mixture between two different types of push-ups, the wide- and close-grip.
Wide push-ups almost neutralize the triceps, close-grip neutralize the chest, and the Perfect Pushups move you through both: the arms start further away from the body, but the closer you get to the ground, the more you move the elbows in.
This wasn’t a bad thing, mind you. The movement pattern was new to my body, and new means the muscles engage in a way they haven’t experienced before. This often is the key to more muscle growth.
Wider Range Of Movement
What I didn’t try out was the wider range of vertical movement the Perfect Pushups advertisements talk about.
Having your hands on the handles, your body is further above the ground, allowing you to lower it to the point where the elbows are above the shoulders. You can do that with normal push-ups as well, but not nearly as deep.
For some being able to go even deeper may be a definitive plus, because it gives the chest muscles a bigger range of movement. But for me a push-up ends with the arms parallel to the ground. Hyperextending the shoulder has caused more than one rotator cuff injury.
Not For Beginners
When you take all this together, the Perfect Pushup has a definitive plus, but also a minus.
Let’s start with the minus: the shift from chest to triceps is why I won’t recommend Perfect Pushups for beginners.
Anyone who tried close-grip push-ups can tell you that these are much more difficult than the regular ones, because the triceps does most of the work. If your triceps strength hasn’t been trained, you and the Perfect Pushups may end up looking like this:
She can’t stabilize the movement to begin with and it is next to impossible for her to use her triceps to get back up again. Starting with door or regular knee push-ups (as I explain them here) would serve her better.
Perfect Push-Ups Aren’t Better, They’re Different
On the other hand and for experienced trainees, the chest to triceps shift is exactly what makes the Perfect Pushups worth looking at. As I said above, the crossing over recruits muscles in a new pattern and forcing the body to adapt can fire off more muscle growth.
I wouldn’t make them my main chest exercise, but as a more triceps-centric compound after a regular chest compound, the Perfect Pushups can sprinkle that bit of spice into your workouts. They also simply put a fun twist (forgive me the pun) in an old exercise.
If you are interested, you can get them at Amazon for $20 – $30 and let me earn a small commision if you use the link. There are several knockoffs around which are cheaper, but I can’t vouch for their quality. My friend’s originals were in very good condition, despite having been used for quite some time.
Picture courtesy of “Naval Surface Warriors“.