For more than 15 years I've used a push-up board for the majority of my body-weight upper-body pushing exercises. It's a simple, efficient and economical tool that delivers results no other similar device can. Here are ten reasons I use my push-up board:
1. The push-up board is easier on the wrists. As a trainer, one of the major complaints I hear is either push-ups aggravate pre-existing wrist problems or, worse, create them. Not so with a push-up board. Other push-up devices, such as the Perfect Push-Up, alleviate wrist problems in certain push-up exercises while compounding wrist strain in others.
2. Less strain on the elbows because the hands are in a more natural alignment and the board is actually gripped, you can keep the elbows rolled inward (with the pit of the elbow forward and the point of the elbow back) yoga-style, thus they flex in a more natural pattern.
3. Less shoulder strain once the wrists and elbows are held in proper alignment, the shoulders are able to engage in a more natural way, alleviating the shoulder pain and injury consequent to most push-up movements. People who do a lot of push-ups usually complain of considerable front-shoulder pain and discomfort. This is not so with the push-up board, leading us to reason #4...
4. Better lat and sub-scapular muscle engagement because the push-up board design interconnects the hands (as opposed to two separate push-up handles) you're able to pull yourself down during the negative/eccentric part of the movement. True, this can be done without the board, but the board makes it MUCH easier to learn this action and follow through. Regular use of the push-up board creates much greater balance in shoulder girdle development. This is mainly due to a specific "cork-screw" action of the hands and elbows (which I teach in my seminars and DVDs) and is difficult, at best, to perform without the board.
5. More muscle fiber recruitment in arms, shoulders and chest. The gripping and squeezing action of the hands upon the board gives rise to a process known as irradiation. Irradiation, a muscle tension principle (which I also fully explain in my workshops) instantly increases muscular strength, sometimes as much as 15%.
6. Better engagement of core musculature The board's structure provides a stable platform for a host of full-body push-up movements involving every fiber of the body's core. Here's the money quote: Using the push-up board has without a doubt enhanced my abdominal development and definition in a way that sit-ups or other abdominal exercises NEVER could.
7. Deeper stretching of the spine and hip flexors The old-time physical culturists knew that you're only as young--or old--as your spine. One bane of modern civilization is chronic tightness in the hamstrings hip flexors resulting from prolonged sitting in chairs. Most civilized people spend the majority of their time seated either before their desks or within their automobiles--is this you? This posture shortens these critical muscles of movement, additionally promoting an unseemly curvature of the upper spine: the dreaded hyper-kyphotic curve, or dowager hump, prevalent in today's society...and not just among the elderly.
The antidote to these ills? Regularly working up a lather on your trusty push-up board, which unlocks the spine and hip flexors. this directly plays into reason #8...
8. Lengthening of the calves and hamstrings The all-important hamstrings, because of continual bent-leg positioning, become drastically shortened, along with the musculature of the calves. When the calf muscles are shortened and tight, a veritable cascade of problems occur in the ankles and feet, in turn transferring locomotive impact forces into the knees, hips and lower back. opening, i.e., lengthening the calf muscles is a priority in re-mediating these problems. A time-honored yoga asana, the downward-facing dog, is a thousands year-old counter-action.
The problem with the downward dog pose is it's typically difficult for most people to perform correctly. By slightly elevating the hands on the push-up board, this posture is more accessible to all but the most flexible. The push-up board is the only device of which I'm aware allowing alignment and strengthening work to the lower body structures as well as the upper body structures. Which brings us to #9...
9. The push-up board catalyzes a wide variety of whole-body movements impossible to do on other push-up devices The push-up board enables strengthening of every body muscle, including the legs!
10. The push-up board is a two thousand year-old tradition I am in love with the concept of training as an ancient warrior. The push-up board follows this precept of ancient tools for modern warriors. I hold a deep skepticism of most modern contrivances. In spite of our technological advances, I've witnessed a steady decline in the health and robustness of men everywhere. Modern science hasn't produced solutions to the epidemic of general softening. I say, let us hearken back to a time where men understood how to be men and used the traditional tools that built healthy, functional and beautiful bodies.