Best Push Up Bars & Handles Reviewed in 2021 | Buying Guide

Push up bars or handles are a lifesaving piece of gym equipment if you’ve struggled with wrist injuries and struggle having your palm flat on the floor under load. They also take things up a notch if you want to work on your mobility and end range strength for a whole host of other strength exercises.

Is it better to do push ups with handles?

As with almost every question I get asked about exercise, my answer is “it depends”. Using push up bars can be great for optimizing shoulder mobility. By gripping in a neutral position (palms facing each other), the shoulders can get a little more external rotation and the scapulars can retract more freely than when palms are flat on the floor. I’m pretty passionate about mobility and find a lot of weightlifters are lacking in this area. Poor shoulder mobility can lead to injuries.

Push up handles also allow you to move in a greater range because you can go a little deeper on your downward movement. This can be great for loading your muscles in their end range, but here’s where by “it depends” comes in to play. Be mindful not to go too deep, because you can actually end up causing damage to your shoulder or elbow joints if they are stretched too far. I suggest only going as deep as you could if your chest were to touch the floor without using push up handles, maybe 10% further than a standard push up.

The main advantage of push up bars is for people who suffer from wrist pain in a pronated (palm down) position. If you’ve struggled with eight bearing on your hands, you probably find push ups, plank holds and downward dog position pretty much impossible. Some exercises can be modified to resting on your forearms, but push ups aren’t one of them. If you’re one of these people, push ups handles are an excellent investment in to your gym equipment arsenal.

So, to summarise my “it depends” answer, I would say that those with wrist problems may get a lot of benefit from using push up handles. If you have elbow or shoulder joint issues, however, use push up bars with caution. Make sure the gains from the extra 10% of effort doesn’t come at a cost of placing more strain on your joints.

Are hand release push ups better?

You may have noticed that ‘hand release” push ups have been popping up increasingly in gym classes, Crossfit WOD’s and online training videos. The hand release push up is recognised as being a superior exercise to the traditional push up because it places more focus on the chest (pecs) area. The hand release variation also starts from a dead position so it requires more effort in the initial contraction to begin the movement. By completely lowering to the ground, a HRPU also adds more depth to the entire push up movement, so works your muscles in their end range.

For those who have hand or wrist discomfort though, HRPU are not an option. If you want to try HRPU’s whilst incorporating push up handles, I suggest using a very low height handle, rather than a raised bar to avoid overstretching the shoulder capsule from the starting position. Alternatively you could lie on a step block to get the handle height more in line with your chest.

best push up bars to buy

How do I choose a push up bar?

Great question. There are a lot of different styles of push up handles on the market and it can be confusing to know where to start. Here are some point to consider when deciding how to choose the right push up bar for your needs:

What exercises can you use a push up bar for?

A serious bodybuilder may be just looking to add variation in grip position to isolate different muscles, whereas someone wanting to get back to yoga positions such as downward dog or even handstands, may require a slightly higher bar. Push up bars can be great tools for calisthenics movements.

What sort of size or weight rating do you need?

For most average Joe’s, the weight capacity of your push up handles shouldn’t be too much of an issue, but if you’re a big unit, I recommend checking that the product you choose can handle your frame before you click “buy”. Some handles are more girthy than others and could be too wide for a smaller hand, while other handles are smaller overall and could feel unstable for a bigger athlete. (Yes, we’re all athletes – no matter how part-time).

Why do you want or need to use push up handles?

Someone recovering from an injury may need a slightly angled bar rather that one sitting parallel to the ground. While most push up bars are stable, there are varieties which can also rotate. Is this helpful to you?

What sort of surface do you want to grip on to?

I personally prefer a soft padded handle, but I’m the only one who uses my set of push up bars. If I was sharing the equipment with others, I’d opt for a surface that can easily be cleaned between users. some handles are smooth plastic, while others have a more textured, wooden finish. It’s about balancing comfort, hygiene and girth.

How much do you want to spend?

Obviously price is a factor for most of us mere mortals. You be the judge.

Portability.

If you want some equipment that is easy to take on business trips for that mini hotel room workout, you might like a more compact or lightweight model.

What’s the difference between various types of Push Up Bars?

The chart below is a great place to get started with comparing the best push up bars.
There are seriously 101 push up handles out there to buy, so I decided to compare some different styles for you so you could get an idea of what you like and don’t like. Comparing the pro’s and cons of different style push up bars can help you get a clear idea of what will suits your individual needs. Keep on scrolling for a more in depth discussion on the features of different push up bar models.

NameWhat I LikeDown Side 
N1 Fit Push Up BarsBudget Friendly. Slightly inclined position more comfortable for push ups.PVC Plastic construction might not handle heavier loads or handstands
PULLUP & DIP wooden Push Up BarsWooden and steel construction feels high quality and eco friendly.Very girthy handle size. Smaller hands may have trouble getting a good grip.
ABLE Push Up Stands with wheelsWheels allow for a variety of exercises especially core work.The rolling feature may be too advanced for beginners to control.
Perfect Fitness perfect Pushup EliteRotating action gives a wide range of muscles a wake up call A little on the pricey side
RDF Push Up BarsBudget Friendly.
Solid steel & horizontal handles ideal for calisthenics and handstands.
Smaller size and "S" shape design can make them more easy to tip sideways.
Heroic Sport T-Spikes Push Up HandlesBrutal Core and Stabilizer Workout.You will probably achieve less range of movement with each rep, so throw some full push ups in the mix as well.
RBX Push-Up Bars plus 2lb Hand weight ComboHand weight inclusion and soft grip make these great for injury rehab.Very small in size. Ideal for petite women, but size may make them unstable for bigger users.

Inclined Push Up Handles vs Straight Ones:

Traditional push up bars have a straight horizontal handle, that runs parallel to the floor. In order to maintain a neutral grip, the user needs to lean their body forward to work the chest. Inclined push up bars shift a little of the load away from the upper body and to the feet, which can make a complete push up movement slightly easier to perform. This is why progressions towards doing push ups often involve pushing against a wall, or a table, before using the floor. The difference in angle on inclined push up bars is so minimal, however, that it’s unlikely to have much bearing of how difficult the athlete finds the exercise. The effort required to use an inclined push up bar does get drawn from a larger area of the chest and core when compared to a straight bar targeting the upper chest more directly.

The biggest noticeable difference between inclined push up bars and straight ones will be felt by those with wrist problems, as the angled version places the wrist in a more comfortable position.

If you want to use your push up handles for exercises such as assisted handstands, handstand push ups, or handstand walk movements, the straight / parallel handles will be necessary for balance and stability.

These inclined push up bars by N1Fit are a super affordable entry level model. If you’re unsure of what you prefer, I suggest buying a couple of sets of cheap push up bars to try out first – you can always give them to a mate if you decide to upgrade. Obviously you get what you pay for, so a cheaper set of bars like these are made of plastic, rather than steel. For most people, they will be more than durable enough and their lightweight construction makes them easy to throw in a suitcase for workouts away from home. I have even tossed them in a backpack for a running / Crossfit style workout, which I like to do with my mate on the weekend. (Check out some of these workouts for inspiration!)

Skimping on cost means you might not get a rubber non-slip finish either. It’s not a deal breaker – just something to be mindful of when you choose your surface. If in doubt, a simple yoga mat underneath you is an easy fix.

These straight push up handles are available on Amazon and are a lot more sturdy, being solid steel and will support 300lbs! If you are looking to perform handstand push ups or overhead exercises, a parallel set of handles is a safer option and this set are a good value purchase that should be able to withstand heavier loads.

Rotating push up handles vs fixed bars:

Perfect Pushup is the best known brand of rotating push up handles, although there are some similar models available on the market. There is some conjecture about the benefit of rotating vs fixed push up handles and I’ll summarise the key arguments here, so you can make up your own mind.

The claim by the manufacturers of rotating push up bars is that they reduce strain on the joints, while activating more muscles than a regular push up. However, there are those who believe rotating handles actually produce less results because they take away from your ability to create an isometric tension through your lats and shoulders. When you compare a push up done on rotating handles vs fixed bars, you can feel what they’re talking about. My own opinion, however, is that the trade off for the greater level of who body tension is the ability to work the muscles through a greater range of motion as you feel your scapulars move far more using the rotating bars.

A common cause of joint strain is poor form through flaring the elbows out as you lower yourself. When using rotating handles, you should start in the raised position with the handles positioned perpendicular to your body. As you lower down, the handles will rotate, so your elbows come in close to your sides and the handles end up parallel to your body.

My favorite aspect of rotating push up handles is that they force you to do slower, more controlled movements, so each rep is focused more on muscle activation and less on momentum. Quality over quantity. The 10,000 five star ratings on Amazon is an indication to me that there are plenty of people out there who enjoy this product.

Find The Best Wall Mounted Pull Up Bars of 2021.

The past 2 years have been the time of the home gym more than ever before! COVID-19 has caused gyms and fitness centres to shut down across the globe, making it been time to curate your own workout space at home. This means using the size parameters and budget constraints that you have to work with.

A wall mounted pull up bar is a step up from the doorway mounted bar. If you’re serious about your pull up training, you want something solid and substantial to train with.

What is a wall mounted pull up bar?

Most wall mounted pull up bars fix to standard residential stud framed walls using mounting plates or brackets. A solid pull up bar is great for developing your upper body, back, chest and core. A wall mounted pull up bars are made of high-quality material for great durability and strength.

Considerations when buying a wall mounted pull up bar:

  • Plan ahead where you want to attach your pull up or chin up bar. You may use a stud finder device to pinpoint the appropriate area on the wall to safely secure your bar.
  • Ask for permission! If you don’t own your home, its’ best to check before fixing anything to the walls of your home. (I prefer to beg for forgiveness rather than ask for permission, but up to you how you want to roll!) Its often advisable to keep your landlord on side!
  • Check the weight rating. Not all pull up bars are created equal and neither are we. Do your research to ensure the product you choose can take the weight of anyone that will be using it.
  • Read product reviews.
  • Poorly made gear may not spread the load effectively could potentially rip right off your wall, causing pretty awful damage. I’ve provided some wall mounted pull up bar reviews here for you to check out to feel reassured before buying.

Benefits of Using Wall Mounted Pull Up Bar

A wall mounted pull up bar is generally much more sturdy than its’ doorway mounted counterpart. Most wall mounted units will handle 400-600 lbs and take up much less space that a freestanding rig. This might be particularly relevant for the home gym where floor space is limited.

Pull up bars are a perfect way to develop lean body mass in a relatively short time. Not only can you perform pull up and chin up exercises, but a wall mounted pull up bar is also a great tool for incorporating the use of resistance bands, or hanging TRX straps from to enable you to do a wide range of exercises.

Here’s our buyers guide to the best wall mounted pull up bars of 2021:

First a couple of points to mention…

A wall mounted pull up bar is usually more durable and (providing it is installed correctly) will take more weight than its’ portable/doorway mounted counterpart. By investing a little more time and/or money on proper installation, you will get a more solid piece of equipment and prevent damage to walls.

#1. XMark Commercial Multi-Grip Wall Mounted Pull Up Rig

A personal favorite – introducing you to the XMark Commercial Multi-Grip Wall Mounted Pull Up Rig. With its’ angled design allowing you to switch between wide, narrow, pronated, supinated and neutral hand positions, this bad boy means you can fine tune your pull up regime to get maximum results.

Built tough, XMark have made this pull up station capable of carrying a load, so if you’re a big rig, or like to add weight plates to your pull ups, you can rest assured that it can take the extra strain. The thing I love about it in particular is that XMark weld their pieces of metal together, rather than bolting them giving you reassurance in its’ strength.

My local gym has one of these XMark systems installed and it really is a pleasure to use. For beginners who are working on simply improving their grip strength for dead hang holds, its’ also useful as a micro set of monkey bars to work yourself along, adjusting your grip angles as you go.

What we like (PROS)

  • Nice amount of knurling. Enough to help you grip without feeling like your callouses are being torn off!
  • Loads of options on grip position
  • Can handle the load. This rig is solid AF.

What We Don’t Like (CONS)

  • Seems to be low availability at the moment (the pandemic has probable affected demand).

#2. Syzythoy Multifunctional Wall Mounted Pull Up Rig

Why not invest in a piece of kit that will allow you to do more than just pull ups?

I love this piece of equipment for the versatility it offers while still being super compact if you’re limited for space. Work your triceps with dips and your abs with a variety of leg raise exercises in between sets of pull ups and you’ll be ripped in no time!

Syzthoy aren’t a big player in the fitness world compared to brands like Rogue, but offer a good value option for those setting up a home gym and this rig will hold up to 440lbs so not to be sniffed at!

What we like (PROS)

  • Good value system that offers a variety of exercise options in a compact workout space.
  • The lower dip handles can double as a storage option for your curl bar when not in use.
  • Able to be easily dismounted from the wall and packed away if you need the space for other functions.

What We Don’t Like (CONS)

  • This rig is designed to be anchored to a concrete or solid brick wall, which limits its; suitability for some buyers. A workaround solution is to fix it to a timber board to distribute the weight across studs, but you need to do your due diligence first to avoid damaging your wall.

#3. Balazs Adjustable Wall Mounted Pull Up Bar

There aren’t many pull up bars that offer vertical adjustment. For many of you, this feature may be irrelevant, but for people like my mate Tony, who shares a house with his wheelchair bound (but fitness enthusiast) brother, the Balazs Adjustable Pull Up Bar was an absolute game changer. If you have a partner of a substantially different size to you, the adjustable feature of the Balazs bar might be a big drawcard for you too.

With 18″ of vertical adjustment, the bar can not only be easily adapted for both different height individuals, but also for different abilities and exercises. Balazs make a range of quality pull up bars and have earned themselves a reputation as a solid player in the fitness equipment industry. Expect to pay a fair bit more for this item, but if the versatility it offers meets your needs, then I’d say its’ worth the investment. You can also sleep soundly at night knowing you won’t need to replace it any time soon as it is a solid stainless steel construction. You can get training straight away with a 1/4″ drill, and a 9/16″ wrench. Everything else you need to assemble and install this rig is supplied in the box.

The Balazs pull up bar that Tony and Dom use is the 48″ bar version, but there is a 32″ model available if space constraints matter.

What we like (PROS)

  • This heavy hitter will bear a load over 500lbs. (Psst…Can your wall handle it too?)
  • Made in the USA. Booyah!

What We Don’t Like (CONS)

  • The adjustabe nature of this rig means that you will be putting holes in a larger area of your wall.

#4. Rogue R-3W Fold Back Wall Mount Rack

This wouldn’t be a legit buyer’s guide if Rogue didn’t get a mention. Sure, these guys have secured themselved a tasty reputation in the Crossfit crowd, but they really are a solid player in the fitness equipment stratisphere.

This unique hing and pin design allows you to fold the rig back for space efficiency as needed, which makes is a favorite for home gym set ups where space is at a premium. By incorporating a power rack in to this rig, you are able to get a complete body workout using an olympic bar for overhead lifts and squatting exercises.

What we like (PROS)

  • US manufactured Rogue equipment is reliable and of the highest workmanship.
  • Specially design plastic cups are included to protect your floor from this beast of a rig.
  • Lifetime warranty.

What We Don’t Like (CONS)

  • Rogue aren’t cheap, but they’ve earned the right to charge what they do.

#7. Valor Fitness CHIN-UP Pro Style Mount Chin Up Bar

A similar style bar to the XMark I mentioned above, the Valor model provides that variety of grip angles that I love. Having recovered from a TFCC injury in the past, being able to alter my grip to a more neutral position can take the load off my wrists.

Another plus with this style of bar is the ability to hang resistance bands or TRX straps and keep them from sliding up and down the length of the bar.

What we like (PROS)

  • Rated to 600 lbs. Strong as an ox.
  • Multiple grip positons

What We Don’t Like (CONS)

  • A slightly rougher finish on the handles means it might irritate your hands if you are more sensitive to that. I know people who actually prefer a rougher finish though, so personal preference is key.

What makes a good wall mounted pull up bar?

The first feature you should look at with the best wall mounted pull up bar is assessing it for your own functional needs. Are you just looking to do pull ups and chin ups or do you want to also hang a heavy bag or resistance straps from your bar? How much do you weigh? What sport of space do you have available? What are your walls constructed of?

Once you know what weight rating you need your bar to be and what sort of anchoring is needed for your wall, consider the type of exercises you want to perform and any space constraints. Remember, if you are renting, you may need to check with your landlord before installing a wall mounted pull up bar to avoid wall damage or getting yourself into trouble!

Choose a piece of equipment that will allow you to perform all your chosen movements safely. If you’re a smaller person, you might prefer a narrower diameter hande to grip and some people prefer s handle with foam padding to avoid ripping or forming callouses.

Read reviews before purchasing a pull up bar for home. Common complaints are rigs that arrive with poorly written instructions or incomplete installation kits. It’s really irritating to have to drill extra holes or source different bolts in order to “MacGyver” your way through putting a piece of fitness equipment together. You generally get what you pay for here and a few bucks saved in the purchase might come back to bit you when it comes to installation!

The Best Pull Up Alternatives without a Pull Up Bar

Obviously, if your goal is to be able to do pull ups, then you will need to get access to a pull up bar of some sort, whether it’s at home, the gym or even at a local park. There may, however, be times when you can’t access a bar for a period and need to find an alternative for pull ups… what should you do? Fear not! I’m here to share some of the best pull up alternatives yu can do without a pull up bar:

Row, Row, Row your boat
(however you can!)

Rows are an excellent movement that engage your back muscles, shoulders, arms and core. The great thing about rows is that they can be modified depending on what equipment you have available and also your ability. The most common ways you can do rows (without and fancy cable machines at the gym) are:

Doorway Rows

  • These are best suited to beginners, who might not be up to doing full pull ups yet.
    With your feet in line with the doorway, use a broom handle horizontally braced against the other side of the doorway or even hold onto the insides of the door frame with your hands.
    Note: Place a towel between the broom handle and the door frame to avoid damage and if you’re a really big unit, maybe consider other options, so you don’t go doing any damage.

Inverted Rows Using Furniture

  • Stuck at home? Grab a couple of dining chairs and sling a bar of some sort (broom handle) across them, leaving a gap between the chairs.
  • Lying on the floor, grip the bar and pull yourself up so your chest touches the bar.

Towel Pull Ups

  • If you can already perform a proper pull up, this alternative will be good for your grip strength. You will need two smallish towels. Tie a knot in each towel and place over the top of a door.
  • Close the door, so the knots act as an anchor and the rest of the towel hangs over the closed door for you to grip on to and pull yourself up.
  • If you have some sturdy straps such as car tie downs, these also work well.
    Note: Set yourself up so the door opened away from you, just in case you manage to force it open…my best mate cringed when he saw me doing this as he thought it placed to much strain on my door…I’ll let you be the judge!

Ring Rows

  • If you have somewhere you can fasten a set of rings (even over a tree in the backyard), you can do a killer workout as an alternative to pull ups. Lean back with your feet on the floor and row yourself up, adjusting the height of your rings to make it easier if need be. You can really drill down and target different muscles by throwing in some straight arm strength work here.

Bent Over Rows

  • Got a set of dumbbells? Great! If not, see what you can work with – I use a 15 litre water bottle, but maybe you have a jerry can in the shed or a chainsaw you could lift instead? (Not turned on!)

Renegade Rows

  • Harder to do with a chainsaw, I’ll admit!

Resistance Bands

  • One of my all time favorite pieces of low cost, yet versatile fitness equipment. Any of the ring row exercises of dumbbell exercises can be performed with the help of some resistance bands.
best pull up alternatives

Mobility work to improve your pull up performance

You’ve heard me banging on about it before – work on your mobility! Use this time without a pull up bar to really focus on strengthening your connective tissue and improve your range of motion. The most common injuries from pull ups are due to poor preparation. Work on your wrists, your shoulders and even your hips. Trust me!

Use a resistance band or a simple broom handle to get your arms moving freely over and around your head and incorporate dynamic stretching (that is, stretching the muscles while moving) in to your routine.

My favorite exercises that help with mobility, while also giving your muscles a hard time include:

  • Elephant walks
  • Back Bridges
  • Prone Trap Raises
  • Prone Swimmers

The main thing to take from this is understanding that you can still train specifically no matter what equipment you have access to. These pull up alternatives will keep you on track to improving your strength and fitness without a pull up bar – you can only work with what you have available, so remember SOMETHING is ALWAYS better than nothing!