Push up board is marketed as a great piece of equipment for a total upper body workout. It is supposed to develop your chest, triceps, shoulders and back. It should also help you avoid injury and improve your range of motion.
But is it really useful and does it really live up to the expectations? This is what we will try to figure out.
Before we dive deep into analysis, here are push up boards you can get on Amazon. They are sorted by their usefulness and customer reviews.
4.3 Customer Review Score, 660 lbs Max Load
4.7 Customer Review Score, 300 lbs Max Load
4.4 Customer Review Score, N/A Max Load
4.5 Customer Review Score, N/A Max Load
4.4 Customer Review Score, N/A Max Load
5.0 Customer Review Score, N/A Max Load
Does push up board help you avoid injury?
If we look at what a push up board actually is, we can start to see if it really does help you avoid injury or not.
It’s a plastic board with holes. You got handles with the board. Handles fit into the holes. When you place a handle on one of the proposed positions on the board it locks into the holes and stays locked firmly in place.
If you are not careful to precisely fit handles into the holes correctly, you are in danger of getting injured. The other problem is the board itself. Most of them comes as foldable two pieces of plastic connected in the middle.
Some boards can lift in the middle when used with wider grip positions. This is especially true if they are not placed on a sturdy flat floor.
Another problem with push up boards preventing injuries is the predefined positions on the board. Some of which are more dangerous than others.
Especially dangerous one is the position with the widest overhand grip. This will put you in similar risk of shoulder injury as archer push ups. So, your shoulders might get injured when using the widest position with overhand grip.
Some predefined grips are just useless and there is no place for some of them in your training. So, if you are just starting out, push up boards can be problematic and actually lead to risk of injury. While they are promoted to help you prevent yourself from getting injured.
The idea behind a push up board as an item that will prevent injuries is that you are using handles. When you do push ups using handles instead of doing push ups on the floor, your wrists are in a better position. This does help deload your wrists. So, on this account, push up boards really do deliver some protectional benefit.
However, if you compare push up boards to parallettes, I would give parallettes higher score for injury prevention. Paralletes won’t fold in the middle and you can’t miss any hole when you place parallettes on the floor.
Does push up board help you get an increased range of motion?
This one really goes to the push up boards. They will really help you get a wider range of motion compared to push ups on the floor. It’s simply because you are holding handles that are higher from the floor compared to your hands on the floor.
This will allow your chest sink further down between your hands if you do some normal grip width push ups. However, parallettes give you the same benefit and are more versatile, because there are no predefined positions.
You can place parallettes on the floor however you want. You can mimic all positions found on a push up board with parallettes. Besides that, parallettes require less storage space when you don’t use them.
Does push up board work your entire upper body?
Push up board is supposed to work your chest, triceps, shoulder and back muscles. According to a promotion they are great for working your entire upper body.
Can they really deliver on that promise?
Let’s first examine the chest. When we look at positions that are supposed to work your chest, we see some good positions. If you try to use it with those positions, it will really work your chest muscles.
So there are some good positions for working on your chest muscles. Unfortunately, there are some that are just ridiculous and useless.
However, the push up board itself will not guarantee you are doing push ups correctly. If you are doing push ups with bad form, no core tension, poor body alignment and reduced range of motion, no board will help you correct those problems.
So, if you want to work on your chest muscles, you can use a push up board to some extent. Be careful to avoid some of the ridiculous and useless positions and you will be fine. The closer the position is to a normal push up without the board the better.
Don’t forget, you can work your chest muscles without the push up board with the same efficiency. If you have parallettes, you will also have the benefit of reduced load to your wrists.
When you want to target your triceps, the push up board will have several positions. Like with chest, push up board will help you work on your triceps to some extent.
However, the close grip push up variation will work your triceps, with or without push up board. So, diamond push ups will do the same for your triceps.
Without knowing how to perform some of the exercises, having just the board itself, won’t help you target your triceps correctly.
If you really want to progress with your triceps, there are better tools for the job, like doing dips on a dip bars.
If you want to use a push up board to somehow magically target your shoulders just by using grip positions on the board, forget it. If you are not in a pike push up or a handstand position while using the board, forget about targeting your shoulders.
Besides this, getting in a handstand position on a bad push up board that can fold in the middle is also dangerous.
So, targeting your shoulders will have to do everything with your body positioning and nothing with a push up board.
Now we are getting to a total lie in a push up board commercial.
Your spine stabilizers on your back will work regardless of the grip position or exercise you perform on the push up board. They are not the primary movers. They are just helping you hold a push up position.
What we would like to see is working your latissimus dorsi with this piece of equipment.
Getting a push up board to work your lats is mission impossible. For targeting your upper back, you will have to turn to pulling exercises. Pushing exercises simply don’t work.
Whatever grip you use on the board, it will not do anything for your upper back muscles. So, push up boards are useless for working your upper back.
Push ups boards are piece of equipment you would most likely want to avoid. You will not get what is promised in a push up boards commercials.
If you want a better product that will give you more flexibility, all the same benefits as a push up board without false promises, you should check out parallettes.