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Can TikTokers Improve Push-Up Form by Using Resistance Bands?

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  • Post last modified:September 25, 2023

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In contrast to labor-intensive barbell bench presses and fully loaded cable flies, bodyweight push-ups might give the impression of being a relaxed upper-body workout that won’t exhaust your muscles too much. However, appearances can be deceptive.

“A complete plank-to-push-up position, raising yourself onto your toes, is genuinely challenging,” says Kelly Froelich, a certified personal trainer and co-founder of the digital fitness platform Balanced. “To accomplish that, you need both a considerable level of core strength and upper-body strength.”

Nevertheless, in recent times, some TikTok users have taken to the platform to highlight resistance band push-ups, a distinct variation that involves performing push-ups with a circular band encircling your arms just above your elbows. TikTokers claim that this technique makes the exercise simpler, enables you to practice correct form— even if you haven’t yet reached superhero-level strength— and ultimately aids in progressing to regular push-ups. Even Cassey Ho of Blogilates supports this trick, and her video demonstrating it has garnered over 16,700 likes and nearly 190,000 views. According to experts, using a resistance band to enhance your push-up form, TikTok-style, actually has benefits.

Coming up, certified personal trainers explain why modified resistance band push-ups are a valuable addition to your workout routine and share tips to ensure their effectiveness. Additionally, they offer safety advice to bear in mind when attempting this TikTok-approved hack.

What is a altered resistance band push-up?

Despite being an alteration, a resistance band push-up appears quite similar to a typical push-up. To perform the conventional exercise, you will begin in a raised plank position with your shoulders aligned above your wrists, your elbows extended outward so that your arms create a 45-degree angle with your body, and your core activated. Just so you know, this positioning of the elbows is a crucial aspect of the correct form for a regular push-up, but some TikToks on the trick display a tricep push-up (where the elbows are tucked close to the sides) instead. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels. Next, you will gradually lower your body by bending your elbows, stopping approximately three inches above the floor. Finally, you will push off the ground to extend your arms and return to a raised plank position.

However, unlike the classic exercise, the altered resistance band push-up incorporates equipment. Prior to assuming a raised plank position, you will thread both arms through a circular resistance band, positioning it just above your elbows. Once in the starting position, the band will be situated directly below your chest, and you will perform your push-ups as usual.

Do altered resistance band push-ups have an impact?

Utilizing a resistance band while performing a set of push-ups is intended to assist in “propelling your chest upward” to the starting position when you reach the lowest point of the movement, as explained by Ho in her TikTok. Over time, this modification enables you to “gradually develop strength while maintaining proper form,” notes Ho.

And she’s not incorrect: Once your chest comes into contact with the resistance band, its elasticity will aid in lifting your body back up to the raised plank position, says Froelich. This means that you won’t require as much upper-body and core strength to complete your repetition compared to a regular push-up. “This is an excellent option to practice improving your push-up form and developing the strength to lift your entire body off the ground if you haven’t fully achieved it yet,” she adds.

Furthermore, the point at which your chest and the band connect is typically where individuals lacking upper-body and core strength struggle with their repetition, adds Tina Tang, a certified personal trainer and strength coach accredited by NCSF. The resistance band not only ensures that you are working through the full range of motion of the exercise, but also boosts your confidence in your body’s capabilities. “It’s something that gives people a sense of mental security,” says Tang. “You know you’re going to lower yourself, you’re going to reach that limiting band, and then you’re going to rise back up.”

Thanks to these advantages, Froelich generally recommends individuals seeking to modify their push-ups to utilize this resistance band technique rather than dropping down to their knees — the traditional way of scaling down the exercise. “Doing push-ups from your knees really changes the angle of your body — instead of going from your head to your toes, you’re going from your head to your knees,” which may affect the effectiveness of the movement, she explains.

It also trims a considerable amount of your body mass, so you’re not acquiring the skill of hoisting your entire physique. But with the assistance of the elastic band, you’re still exerting force to elevate your complete body mass starting from your toes.

Still, there are a few pointers to keep in mind to ensure your resistance band push-ups are actually effective. First, remember to maintain the engagement of your core, as failing to do so can make the move more challenging to complete and potentially lead to harm, says Tang. To keep your core on point, think about pulling your belly button in towards your spine and simultaneously contracting your glutes throughout the entire movement, suggests Froelich.

The resistance of the band you use also matters. If the band is too loose, it won’t assist you in pushing back up to the high plank position. If it’s too tight, you’ll have to struggle against the band to lower down to the floor, preventing you from working through your full range of motion, says Froelich. Additionally, a band with excessive resistance can make it difficult to properly position your wrists underneath your shoulders and angle your elbows so that your arms are positioned at a 45-degree angle from your sides, she adds. (By the way, you can observe this form issue in some of the TikTok videos.) That’s why Froelich suggests selecting a circular band with a moderate resistance. If that band still feels too strong and hinders your ability to lower down to the floor or maintain that 45-degree angle between your arms and sides, consider switching to a lighter one.

Are altered resistance band push-ups secure?

Good news: Altered resistance band push-ups are generally safe, according to the experts. Even if you use a band that is too heavy, which may necessitate narrowing your hand placement and keeping your elbows close to your sides, there is no risk of injury, says Tang. Instead, your push-ups will primarily target your triceps, making the exercise even more demanding, adds Froelich. Essentially, “you may not be able to perform your regular push-ups as effectively as you desire,” says Tang.

That being said, you could increase the risk of injury if you jump into resistance band push-ups without any preparatory work beforehand. If you’re new to push-ups, your initial approach should involve performing the exercise while standing with your hands pressed against a wall and your feet positioned one or two steps back, says Froelich. As you develop strength and learn the correct push-up form, you can progress to elevated push-ups, where your hands rest on a chair or box and your feet stay on the floor. Then, you can transition to resistance band push-ups on the floor, she says. Once you feel strong enough and confident in your form, you can discard the band and attempt traditional push-ups.

“Push-ups require a great deal of technique and engage a lot of upper body and core strength,” explains Froelich. “Shoulder impingement [when the top outer edge of the shoulder blade rubs against the rotator cuff, leading to pain and irritation] is always a risk if your elbows are positioned at a 90-degree angle instead of a 45-degree angle. There’s also a risk of experiencing lower-back pain and injury if you fail to brace your core.

Those are inherent hazards in the event that you descend directly to the ground and perform a press-up after failing to advance through that format [procedure].

Revised resistance band press-ups aid in mastering proper technique and developing strength: Accurate or incorrect?

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Resistance band press-ups are a secure and efficient variation of exercise that assists in developing crucial upper-body and core strength, mastering the correct form for performing press-ups, and eventually progressing to full press-ups, according to experts. However, complete beginners should commence their press-up journey with alternative modifications, such as wall and elevated press-ups, to practice the movement and minimize the risk of injury when advancing to resistance band press-ups. Irrespective of the variation utilized, it is important to maintain engagement of the core throughout the entire movement.

Even if you consider yourself to be an expert in press-ups, it is worthwhile to have this technique at your disposal, as noted by Froelich. “I wholeheartedly recommend it not only for novice athletes but for athletes of all types,” she suggests. “It is an excellent method for refining your form, attaining the upper-body strength necessary for full-range press-ups, and even increasing the number of repetitions.”

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