There might be affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission on anything you buy. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
Pushups are a popular compound chest exercise that is usually done with just bodyweight. Find out what equipment you can use to make this exercise more effective or more comfortable.
Pushups are an exercise where you start in a high plank position. After that, you lower your body to the ground and raise it back into starting position while keeping your body straight and your elbows at the right angle.
The bodyweight version is already relatively challenging. For resistance training beginners and possibly intermediates a regular bodyweight pushup without equipment is already a good exercise choice.
However, at a certain point, you may need to use equipment to make pushups more challenging. This way you can build more muscle for longer.
That being said, even exercise beginners may benefit from some of the equipment that is made to make doing pushups more comfortable.
Make sure you implement the right technique. And remember that even if you implement the right technique, pushups can be hard on body parts like back, wrists, elbows, and shoulders.
1. Weighted vest
A weighted vest is basically its name, a vest with extra weight to make your workouts harder.
One downside of pushups as a resistance training exercise is that it is relatively challenging to add extra resistance since your hands are on the ground. Weighted vests help you work around this since you can simply strap them around your body.
By doing this you can keep growing and strengthening pushup muscles like your chest, triceps, and shoulders. Making pushups more challenging at the right points in your training can also help you achieve results quicker.
One of the benefits of a weighted vest as a piece of fitness equipment is that it is extremely versatile. You can use it in many exercises for many body parts and different exercise categories.
2. Pushup handles
One of the potential downsides of pushups is that they put your wrists in a position that can be painful to certain people. There are mini hand grip bars called pushup handles to resolve this issue.
These pushup handles are simply horizontal bars that are slightly elevated above the ground. This enables you to do pushups while keeping your wrists straight.
Some models of this pushup accessory even rotate during the movement to avoid putting your wrists in an uncomfortable position even more.
An advantage of this type of pushup equipment is that is relatively cheap and easy to use.
A downside is that these pushup bars can also make it so you can lower your body too much. This can put your shoulders in a position with extra injury risk. Many people also simply don’t need pushup handles to get in a good pushup session.
3. Resistance bands
Resistance bands are an inexpensive type of fitness equipment that are basically elastic cords. You can use this piece of exercise equipment to do resistance band pushups.
There are two main ways you can use resistance bands in a pushup. The first, more typical way, is by looping a resistance band behind your back and anchoring each end under your hands.
By doing this, the pushup becomes harder for your chest, tricep, and shoulder muscles which in turn can lead to more muscle gain faster.
The second, less common, way is by putting a loop resistance band around your upper legs. This will engage your outer thigh muscles on top of the regular pushup muscles.
Some of the benefits of resistance bands are that they are relatively inexpensive, easy to store, and very portable. They can also be used in other exercises to train your biceps, abs, back, and leg muscles.
One downside is that resistance bands are not the type of gym equipment you can use for the rest of your life. At least every few years you will need to replace the last set with new resistance bands.
A stepper is a piece of fitness equipment that is an elongated platform that is slightly elevated. It is mainly used for a type of workout called step aerobics but you can also use this equipment to modify your pushups.
The first way to do this is by doing incline pushups. These are pushups with your hands on an elevated surface, in this example a stepper.
Incline pushups are generally easier than regular pushups because a bigger part of your body weight rests on your legs. You will also focus more on your lower chest muscles the more incline you go.
On the other hand, there is also something called a decline pushup. During this variation, your feet are elevated on the stepper. This makes the exercise harder and focuses more on the upper chest and shoulder muscles.
A benefit of steppers is that they are relatively inexpensive and can benefit your workouts for a long time.
You can use steppers for a variety of exercises but on the other hand, they are not as versatile as for example resistance bands.
5. Dumbbells or kettlebells
Dumbbells and kettlebells are some of the most popular fitness equipment options out there. You can use these weights to modify pushups in two ways.
The first one is similar to pushup handles. You can put two dumbbells or two kettlebells on the ground and use them as pushup handles. This can make pushups more comfortable for your wrist. Especially if you use kettlebells you want to be careful about balance when doing this.
The “second” way adds an extra step to this setup. There is a pushup variation called T pushups where you raise one arm sideways after each pushup. Dumbbells or kettlebells are ideal pieces of equipment to make this pushup variation more challenging.
A benefit of one-handed free weights is that they generally last an extremely long time. One dumbbell can potentially improve your workouts for many years and potentially even decades. On top of that, many of these weights do not really lose their value.
This means that if you decide to stop using dumbbells or similar one-handed free weights you can likely sell them for a very similar price as what you put into them.
Additionally, both dumbbells and kettlebells are great to make a variety of resistance training exercises for a variety of body parts more challenging.
A potential disadvantage of dumbbells and kettlebells is that they often require a slightly bigger investment compared to more short-term pushup equipment like resistance bands.
6. Bosu Ball
The next piece of pushup equipment is a Bosu Ball. You can describe the Bosu Ball as the top of a stability ball attached to a flat surface. You can use it to do Bosu Ball pushups, the same exercise but with either your feet or hands on the Bosu Ball.
Similar to steppers, you can use a Bosu Ball to do pushups with a slight incline or decline. More unique is that Bosu Ball pushups will engage your oblique core muscles slightly more than the regular version. If you put your hands on the rounded part the Bosu Ball can also help you strengthen your wrists.
A potential downside of Bosu Balls is that they can be pricier than some of the other options on this list. If this is an issue, the Bosu Ball is a brand name. Off-brand alternatives may suit your needs too.
Something else is that individuals more experienced with chest and tricep training may still need a weighted vest or resistance band on top of the Bosu Ball to make pushups challenging enough.
7. Weight plates
Weight plates are plates made of heavy material that are generally used to put on a barbell to make it heavier. Even so, you can also use weight plates on their own in a variety of other exercises, including pushups.
One way to do this is to put a weight plate on your back to make pushups harder. Due to their shape, weight plates will stay in position better than something like a dumbbell or kettlebell.
Besides that, if the weight plates you have can be stacked in a stable way, you can also use them to do incline or decline pushups. Do make sure that they stack in a stable way to avoid any accidents.
Similar to dumbbells and kettlebells, weight plates last a very long time without really losing their value. On the other hand, weight plates can require a relatively big initial investment.
8. Pushup board
There is a piece of fitness equipment called a pushup board. This is a board with holes in it at specific locations that comes with two pushup handles.
You can then put the handles in certain positions and do pushups with the goal of targetting certain muscles more.
While changing the position of your hands does influence what muscles you mostly target, you don’t need a specific pushup board to do this.
You need to remember that not all human bodies are the same. For some people, these handles may be positioned great but for others, it can promote a pushup technique with more injury risk. On top of that, these pushup boards are relatively pricey.
For most people a pushup board is not worth it. Getting pushups handles and adjusting their position in a way that suits your body is likely a better choice. You can get one and it can benefit your pushup sessions, but it can also do the opposite and be a pricey alternative to other good options.