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The Perfect Push Up: Just Another Gimmick.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 Posted by Peter Janiszewski, PhD

Do you find doing push-ups excruciatingly painful? Are they too confusing and difficult for you to execute? Do you often sprain your wrists when attempting the exercise?

No? Oh, alright…

Nevertheless, the fact that the push-up is one of the most rudimentary exercises in existence has not stopped multiple companies from producing ridiculous gimmicks to help you do the Perfect Push-up!

For example, one such gimmick comes courtesy of Perfect Fitness, a company based out of Northern California, founded by two fellows: a veteran of the US Navy SEALs and a former college athlete – both certified push-up experts! (No, not really…)

According the commercial (see video below), “Big arms, ripped chest, and cut abs can be yours with the Perfect Push Up!”

Well, sign me up!

But wait, there’s more – “The Perfect Push Up is designed to work with the natural motion of your arms and shoulders to maximize results and minimize stress on your body.”

For no conceivable reason that I can muster, the Perfect Push Up system comes in a variety of colours such as red, black and grey and even includes a starter kit with an instructional DVD. In addition to giving you hours of instructions on how to do a push-up, the DVD also teaches you how to breathe and blink – what a steal!

But before we get onto customizing the colour of your Perfect Push Up system, we should consider if a regular push-up is really that stressful on the body and yet so ineffective at producing results?

In short, no.

As a regular exerciser, and someone who performs push-ups on a regular basis, I have never incurred an injury or suffered tremendous pain while performing the exercise. Furthermore, in a recently published study from our laboratory, senior citizens performed push-ups as part of their regular exercise program and none of them were injured – I supervised many of them during their sessions. Come to think of it – these older adults also became much stronger and were able to do many more repetitions of push-ups at the end of the study in contrast to their baseline scores.

And imagine – all this without the need of some gimmicky handles that rotate (the Perfect Push Up in a nutshell).

Not to be outdone, HeavyLift has developed the MegaPex Elite to ensure you get the most out of your push-ups without suffering a mortal injury. And what is the MegaPex Elite? According to the website peddling this gadget, it “is the professional way to transform the ordinary push-up into a powerful workout.”

More succinctly and accurately, the MegaPex Elite is the Perfect Push Up gimmick but with metal versus rubber handles, and about three times the cost ($99.95 versus $29.99-39.99).

So what are you, our loyal reader, to do in order to get the “big arms, ripped chest, and cut abs” that can apparently be only obtained by using the aforementioned gimmicks? How about trying a regular push-up or two?

There are countless variations on how to perform a push up, but the 3 general methods in order of increasing difficulty are:

1. Beginner: Stand closely facing a wall. Place your hands on the surface of the wall at shoulder height with the hands spread approximately the width of your shoulders. Now take a step back while maintaining your hands flat on the wall in front of you, so that you are now standing a foot or two away from the wall with your arms outstretched. Slowly bend your elbows, and try to bring your nose to the wall. When your nose touches the wall, push away to return to original position. Repeat.

2. Intermediate: This is also sometimes called the “Female Push Up” – though I’d advise guys to not be fooled – they may be easier, but they are far from easy – especially when just starting out. For this variation you basically lay on the floor on your stomach (using a mat). Place your hands underneath your shoulders with palms on the floor. Raise your feet off the ground, such that your toes are pointing behind you. Now use your arms to push your body off the ground while using your knees as the point of contact with the floor. Once your arms are fully outstretched, slowly return toward the floor until your nose is close to touching. Repeat.

3. Advanced: This is a full push-up. Basically, it is exactly the same as the intermediate push-up above but instead of using your knees as the point of contact with the floor, you now use the tips of your toes.

There you have it – progress from beginner to advanced variations, increase the number of repetitions, vary the distance between the hands during the movement to spice things up (i.e. hands shoulder width apart, close together, or wide apart), and you could also get a ripped chest – without the use of fancy and truly unnecessary push-up aids. You’ll also save yourself $29.99-99.95.


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4 Response to "The Perfect Push Up: Just Another Gimmick."

  1. Speedwell Said,

    Thank you. I am just starting an exercise regimen for weight loss and it includes floor exercises. The pushups are daunting and I'm glad to see alternate methods for absolute beginners like me. Could you also discuss, st some point, alternatives for other exercises like the ones featured in exercise videos?

    Posted on October 21, 2009 at 5:41 PM

  2. Sarah Said,

    The only benefit I can see to these things is that they can decrease the stress to your wrists - in the last few years I've become unable to do traditional triceps dips and pushups b/c they're too hard on my left wrist - but if I use a freeweight and keep my wrists neutral, I'm OK. But that's the ONLY benefit! Great post.

    Posted on October 22, 2009 at 9:49 AM

  3. Peter Janiszewski, PhD (Cand.), MSc Said,

    @ Speedwell - Thanks for the suggestion. After providing the "do it yourself" alternatives for this particular product, I decided we at Obesity Panacea will try more often to not just critique the product but also provide helpful alternatives that will give our readers the same fitness benefits without emptying their wallets. Stay tuned!

    @ Sarah I agree - if you have very limited mobility - particularly with the extension of your wrists - regular push ups may be uncomfortable. But as you say - you can easily replicate the neurtal grip just by using a couple of dumbbels. No need to blow upwards of $100 for that!

    Posted on October 22, 2009 at 10:29 AM

  4. Todd I. Stark Said,

    I'm a big fan of no-gym minimalist conditioning, and I use these things, along with about a dozen other devices that help me add variety to my workouts without having to rely on a gym.

    I agree that there is nothing special about these, they just make the pushup feel a little different in terms of range of movement in the shoulders and stress on wrists.

    There are hundreds of ways to vary the pushup, it is an incredibly versatile movement. A number of fitness enthusiasts have posted examples of varied pushup routines on YouTube. I've used balls, bands, dumbbells, kettlebells, chairs, steps, perfect pushups, suspension handles, and various other devices to add interest and difficulty to workouts.

    With a little experience and creativity you can do a lot with very little expense. Thanks a lot for the research, it helps to know that in normal ranges of activity, the pushup doesn't neccessarily cause overuse injuries. On the other hand, I've had some problem with shoulders when overdoing bench dips.

    Posted on October 23, 2009 at 3:05 PM


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We are PhD students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Our research focuses on the relationships between obesity, physical activity, and health risk. This blog is our attempt to consider the many "cures" for obesity that we read about on a daily basis. Enjoy.


The opinions expressed here belong only to Peter and Travis and do not reflect the views of any organization. Any medical discussion on this page is intended to be of a general nature only. This page is not designed to give specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem you should consult your own physician for advice specific to your own situation.

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