Band-Assisted Push-up

How To Do A Band-Assisted Push-up
By Alli McKeeFebruary 11, 2016

Band-Assisted Push-Up Exercise

The band-assisted push-up is a great resistance band exercise to strengthen the chest, shoulders, arms, and the anterior core.

Equipment needed:

A resistance band and a fixed/stable overhead bar (squat rack/pull-up bar) should be used for this exercise.

Ability level:

Beginner

Beginners might want to start with a thick, high-resistance band, and transition to a lower resistance band once they have developed the requisite levels of strength, stability, and proper form. If this is still too challenging, elevate your hands by placing them on a box or bench, and proceed to perform the push-ups with band assistance.

Intermediate

Intermediate lifters should start with a thinner, low-resistance band. If you are capable of performing some unassisted push-ups, you can do that, and then add the band assistance once your form breaks down. If you're doing a full-body workout, you can pair the band-assisted push-up with a lower body exercise as part of a superset, or with an upper body pulling exercise. If you are performing a pushing workout, you can do it after a heavier pushing exercise and really challenge your muscles that way. You can also make it part of a metabolic conditioning circuit. Intermediate lifters might perform 2-4 sets of 8-15 band-assisted push-ups.

Advanced

Women who are comfortable with the band-assisted push-up may choose to perform unassisted push-ups, or you do a very challenging push-up workout performing unassisted push-ups until you burnout, and then performing drop sets by adding a low-resistance band and performing more reps. You can continue to do this with a progressively thicker band until you reach technical failure. This will really challenge your upper body and core. You can also make the exercise more challenging by performing negative reps and lowering slowly, taking 3-5 seconds, or by performing explosive clapping push-ups. These are just a few of many great push-up variations you can do.

Benefits of Band-Assisted Push-Ups:

The band-assisted push-up is a great push-up variation for people who might not be able to do any standard push-ups, or who can possibly do only a few reps reps before their form breaks down. This resistance band exercise allows lifters to get into regular push-up position, but provides a little additional assistance. How a woman chooses to use a band-assisted push-up is highly dependent on her overall technical ability and experience, how much assistance is being used, the set/rep scheme used, where it falls in the workout, what it’s paired with, and what the rest periods are. In general band-assisted push-ups can be used to do any or all of the following:

  • increasing upper body strength, primarily in the chest, shoulders, arms, and core
  • building muscle
  • fat loss (if your diet and exercise routines are conducive to fat loss)
  • conditioning (if used as part of conditioning circuits)

How to perform a Band-Assisted Push-Up:

  • Fasten a resistance band to a fixed, stable bar overhead, and place the band so it is around your hips.
  • Position your body in a straight line from your head to heels. Don't let your neck or hips collapse, or lower back arch. Your eyes should be looking straight down, at the same spot on the floor the entire time, which would indicate that your neck has remained in the proper position.
  • Before you descend, take a deep breath into your belly (360 degrees of air around the spine), brace your core (think about blocking a soccer ball with your stomach), gently tuck your rib cage towards your hips (close the space in your midsection), and squeeze your glutes. This will help keep your body stable and properly aligned.
  • Keep your shoulders packed (arms in the sockets).
  • As you are lowering your body down by bending your elbows, your shoulder blades should protract (spread apart but not cave in). When you are pushing back up, your shoulder blades should move together and down (towards the opposite back pocket in your pants). Your shoulder blades are meant to move, not remain in a fixed position. This is a mistake that many people make.
  • Your whole body should travel in a vertical line throughout the entire movement. Imagine there is a giant wall right ahead and behind you. Don't let your head or feet hit the wall.
  • At the top of the push-up, your shoulders, elbows, and wrists should be in a straight line stacked on top of each other.
  • At the bottom position of the push-up, your elbows should remain over the wrists.
  • During the lowering portion of the push-up, your elbows should not flare out. They should be kept closer to the body, and at about a 20- to 40-degree angle.  A good visual to have is that your body and arms should resemble an arrow, not a T. This ''T'' would indicate that your elbows have flared.
  • At the bottom of the push-up, your elbows should bend to at least 90 degrees.
  • Reset before each rep.
  • Select a band with a tension that allows you to perform your desired number of reps and with proper form.

Video Transcription: 

Band-assisted push-ups are a fantastic progress from doing regular push-ups and are great for people who can maybe do one or two but can’t knock out 5-10 solid push-ups. It gives them a little bit more practice. Incline push-ups are great too, but band-assisted are really cool because it puts you on the ground in the right position and just gives you a little bit of assistance where you need it the most.

So, you’re going to loop the band around the top of the squat rack, you’re going to get down, put it right at your hips, then you’re going to get into a great push-up position. So you’re here, hands are right under your shoulders, spine is nice and neutral, glutes are tight core is braced. Then you row yourself down to the ground, push yourself up. Keeping everything nice and neutral the whole time.

Now if you need more support you can simply get a thicker band and if you need less support you just get a thinner band.

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About the author:  Alli McKee

Alli is a certified strength and conditioning specialist. She's contributed to and modeled for a number of major publications including Oxygen magazine and the New Rules of Lifting: Supercharged. You can find out more about Alli on her personal blog at www.allimckee.com.

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