Are Resistance Band Push-Ups Better Than Bench Press?
By: Zack Mathews, NASM - CPT, CES, & PES. PN-L1
Resistance band push-ups are an underrated exercise for chest and shoulder development that many people often overlook.
So many people are obsessed with bench press, dumbbells, and machines that they never program band push-ups into their routine. That needs to change because push-ups with a resistance band are a safe, joint friendly exercise that should be paired with your barbell, dumbbell, and machine work.
For a well rounded chest workout, it’s important to train your chest with variations of both of these exercises. One is not better than the other.
Push-ups are a great exercise because it allows your shoulders to move freely while a bench press restricts your shoulder to a certain range of motion. By doing both in the same workout, you are building bulletproof shoulders that will help you get stronger on all your main lifts.
On the flip side, bench press allows you to load up heavy weight while you only have a couple options with resistance band push-ups.
As you can see, they both have their pros and cons so it’s best to do both.
Here’s a free chest and shoulder workout that you can add in these push-ups.
- Wrap one end of a band around the area between your thumb and index finger.
- Wrap the remainder of the band around your back and connect it with the opposite hand (between the thumb and index finger).
- Bring the band up so it’s located in the mid portion of your upper back.
- Get into push-up position by having your wrists, elbows, and shoulders in-line and your core engaged without your butt sagging.
- With control, start lowering yourself until your face almost touches the ground.
- Pause briefly and then push your palms into the band to get yourself back up.
- Push past where you would go with normal pushups so your upper back rounds into the band.
There are many benefits to learning how to do resistance band push-ups including building a strong, healthy scapula, more core engagement, and the most important one, adding progressive overload to your push-ups.
Here’s why that last point is so important.
We know that in order for your muscle to grow, you need to be adding new stress onto them through progressive overload and the most common form of that is adding more weight.
With push-ups you are normally limited to creating progressive overload by doing more reps but you reach a point where you’ll need to find new ways to add stress to your muscles.
Doing band resistance push-ups is the answer. The band will be pushing down into your back so it will make the push-up more difficult on the way up. This creates new stress on your body and your chest will grow.
Yes, resistance band push-ups can build muscle through mechanical tension (doing push-ups until you get close to failure), and implementing progressive overload (doing more reps or adding a heavier band).
When you are constantly pushing yourself to do a little more with this exercise, whether it’s a few more reps or picking the next band that adds more resistance, muscle growth will happen.
Resistance bands used for push-ups will vary in their weight depending on the size of the band and where you hold it. Generally speaking, there are 4 different sizes that come in a normal band pack and the weights range from:
- Lightest: 15 - 35 lbs
- Medium: 25 - 65 lbs
- Heavy: 35 - 85 lbs
- Thickest: 50 - 125 lbs
When performing banded push-ups start with the lightest band and ensure that you can do 3 rounds of 10 - 12 reps with perfect form.
Once you can do that, jump up to the next size band and repeat the process of building to 10 - 12 reps for multiple rounds.
Banded Push-Ups Recap
Learning how to do a band resisted push-up is a great exercise to pair into a chest workout but it does not need to replace a big pressing movement. They both have their benefits and drawbacks so incorporating both will give you the best bang for your buck.
As long as you use progressive overload by picking a band and rep range that will be challenging, you are doing to be able to build muscle doing push-ups with resistance bands.
If you want to check out other push-up variations, check out my article The 18 Best Push-Up Variations.