The Perfect Pushup promises to help you achieve better results from your pushup workouts. But is the Perfect Pushup a hit or a just a bunch of hype?
Product Reviewed: Perfect Pushup Basic
Manufacturer: BodyRev/Perfect Pushup
Place of Purchase: Dick’s Sporting Goods
Perfect Pushup Pros:
- Ergonomics protect against wrist strain associated with flexion at wrist during standard pushups
- Well-constructed, sturdy; foam hand grips are comfortable
- Rotation may protect against shoulder strain
- More challenging from a stabilization standpoint than fixed-position pushups
- Novel and fun; breaks up the monotony of the usual pushup
Perfect Pushup Cons:
- Price may be a little high for some people
- Perfect Pushup workout plans are limited with the basic model
- Perfect Pushup routine included on the poster required some deciphering
- Marketing claims that you’ll “get shredded” with the Perfect Pushup are unrealistic
Ratings (1-4 Scale: 1 = poor, 2= fair, 3= good, 4= excellent)
Does It Do What It Claims? Yes, with qualifications
Would You Buy It Again? Yes, with qualifications
Overall Rating: 3
Perfect Pushup Review
When it comes to bodyweight exercises, the standard pushup is pretty much already perfect. Not only does it help strengthen and condition the chest, triceps, shoulders and back, but it also improves core stability, improves balance, and can even help contribute to a tighter mid-section.
So when the Perfect Pushup says that for $39.99 (less, in some places) it’s improved the lowly, but already wicked-effective pushup, it’s difficult to not respond with some skepticism. And it doesn’t help that the Perfect Pushup gained much of its initial fame courtesy of “As Seen On TV” type advertising and infomercials — a label that’s been attached to countless useless fitness devices and gadgets ranging from the Thigh Master to Tony Little’s Gazelle.
But here’s the thing: People who have rolled the dice and actually bought the Perfect Pushup uniformly have good things to say about it. So in the interest of making myself a human guinea pig so you don’t have to be stuck with a basement full of ineffective fitness contraptions, I decided to spring for the $39.99 and put the Perfect Pushup through it’s paces myself.
The Standard Pushup Not So Perfect After-all?
Pushups should be part of every person’s workout routine, regardless of gender or experience level.
They are the ultimate portable body-weight exercise, and can be performed anywhere that you can find a 6′x3′ swath of open floor – whether that’s in your apartment, dorm room, hotel room, living room or the gym.
While pushups themselves are very simple exercises to perform, they are actually bio-mechanically a very sophisticated exercise, recruiting nearly every major muscle group in some way to support the body during the movement (provided you are doing them with correct form.)
The pushup is also extremely versatile, letting you emphasize certain muscle groups by simple changes in hand-arm positioning (wide versus narrow), incline or decline, or through elevation of the hands, which deepens the range of motion.
But even the nearly-perfect standard pushup has a kink or two.
The main sticking point with pushups is the strain that they can put on the wrists.
When you perform a pushup with standard form, you hands placed flat on the floor and bent at the wrist. While you aren’t supporting 100% of your body-weight with a pushup (the floor takes some of the load for you), you are balancing a fair amount of your total body-weight on your toes and wrists. The wrists are actually quite strong when they are in a neutral position, but once you bend them backwards, they are weakened, and the risk of strain to tendons or Carpel Tunnel Syndrome is increased dramatically. In fact, many people simply can’t comfortably perform standard pushups because of the discomfort it causes the wrists.
The other point of possible strain or injury during a pushup is in the shoulders. While many people are able to comfortably perform pushups without any discomfort in the shoulder girdle, for some people, having the hands fixed in a single position in relation to the shoulders, can stress the rotator cuff. This is especially troublesome if you’ve had past shoulder injuries or if you perform the exercises with your hands position wide in relation to the shoulders.
Finally, the because the floor naturally limits your range of motion, if your goal is to maximize muscle recruitment during a push-up, you need to find a way to allow yourself to go beyond parallel — in other-words, allow your chest to move below the horizontal plane of your hands. This is typically accomplished by elevating your hands on platforms (or less safely, stacks of phone books as I’ve been known to do) or pushup bars. The main issue here is around stability of the platform that you choose. Some of these elevation mechanisms can occasionally slip, causing potential injury.
The Perfect Pushup to the Rescue?
The manufacturers of the Perfect Pushup claim their device is designed to overcome these three issues associated with the plain-vanilla pushup, and then add a twist (literally) to how you perform pushups. This “twist” is really their “secret sauce” even if the other characteristics of the Perfect Pushup are really no different than what you could get with a pair of pushup bars.
How The Perfect Pushup Works
Just in case you are one only the handful of American’s who haven’t stumbled across a Perfect Pushup commercial or infomercial, here’s how the Perfect Pushup works:
The Perfect Pushup basically takes a standard pushup bar — which keeps your wrists in a neutral, non-bent position — and attaches the pushup bar to a rotating base. This base allows you to maintain neutral wrist position while simultaneously rotating your arms (primarily at the wrist.) This ability to rotate is intended to allow you to compensate for your own bio-mechanics — taking stress off from the wrists and shoulders.
It also allows you to simulate the compound motion of certain dumbbell chest press motions by allowing rotation at wrists, elbows and shoulders — something that is impossible with standard pushups. So if you’ve ever performed dumbbell chest presses with your palms facing forward and then rotated them to face each other at the top of the movement, you’ll know the motion I’m talking about.
The manufacturers of the Perfect Pushup claim that this allows you to work your muscles more completely, more comfortably and more safely.
From US Navy SEAL to Perfect Push-Up Guru
The Perfect Pushup was invented by Alden Mills, a former US Navy SEAL and professional trainer.
His company, BodyRev, has introduced several products over the past two years, include a mobile version of the Perfect Pushup that you can pack in your suitcase, and the Perfect Pull-Up which is a removable pull-up bar that can be installed in standard door frames. BodyRev also makes a light-weight resistance device called the REV 8 and REV 10 that is used by health and fitness clubs as part of a mixed-weight and cardio workout group course.
According to the Perfect Pushup website, the back-story behind the invention of the Perfect Pushup is that while serving in the US Navy SEALS, the platoon Mills commanded was chosen to be part of a year-long study into why Navy SEALS suffered unusually high injury rates during their careers (I’m assuming this is in addition to the usual “injuries” sustained from being shot at, placing underwater demolitions or the occasional hand-to-hand combat.)
The outcome of this study (which is not cited on the Perfect Pushup website) was apparently a change in the US Navy’s approach to training SEALS. Instead of relying heavily on traditional bodybuilding exercises, the Navy instead switched to a more functional-approach to training, that better mimicked the demands of combat.
Mills took what he learned during the US Navy’s transition to functional training and basically founded a fitness equipment company producing products based on functional training principles.
However, what the Perfect Pushup site does notconfirm is whether the US Navy uses some variation on the Perfect Pushup for its training regime. In other words, it’s a little hard to tell if all of the talk of Navy Seal training is just a clever way to get you to think this is some type of Navy Seal product, when it’s really just a post-SEALS invention of Mills with no real analogous piece of equipment in use by the Navy SEALS as part of their training.
So you need to decide for yourself.
The Perfect Pushup Products
BodyRev offers four Perfect Pushup product configurations:
- Perfect Pushup Basic (MSRP: $39.99): Includes the Perfect Pushup Handles, DVD and Exercise Poster
- Perfect Pushup Mobile Unit (MSRP: $49.95): Includes 2 portable Perfect Pushup Handles, Neoprene carrying case and Perfect Pushup Workout Cards
- Perfect Pushup Complete (MSRP: $99.95): Includes Perfect Pushup Mobile Units, Perfect Pushup Basic Handles, Instructional DVD, Power 10 Workout DVD, Power 10 Workout Cards and Perfect Pushup Mobile Workout Cards
- Perfect Pushup Quick Start Kit (MSRP: $49.95): Perfect Pushup handles, Power 10 DVD, Power 10 Advanced DVD, Power 10 Workout Cards, Neoprene Knee Pads and Knee Pad Workout Cards
Other than the Perfect Pushup Mobile Unit and the configuration that gives you both the standard Perfect Pushup and Mobile Unit in a single box, the only real difference between these products seem to be the extras, like the additional workout cards, and Power 10 DVDs and the neoprene knee pad. Whether these add-ons (which cost BodyRev probably less than $2 in materials) are really worth the price difference is your call.
For this review, I purchased The Perfect Pushup Basic Set, which includes the Perfect Pushup handles, DVD and a workout instruction folder. I bought the product at Dicks Sporting Goods for $39.99 — although I have seen t for less online and at places like Walmart and Walgreens.
The Perfect Pushup Construction
Overall, I was surprised at how sturdy and well-constructed The Perfect Pushup handles/paddles were. I actually expected that they would chintzier for some reason.
The handles rotated smoothly, and they had foam padding on the grip part of the handle for comfort. A Neoprene-like pad on the bottom of each Perfect Pushup “paddle” prevents slippage. This was effective on both carpet, concrete and hard-wood floors. So in terms of stability, there doesn’t seem to be any danger of the paddles/handles slipping out from underneath you, even when I did very wide-grip pushups.
Perfect Pushup DVD and Perfect Pushup Exercise Poster
As I pointed out earlier, the Perfect Pushup Basic Set comes with a Perfect Pushup instructional DVD and laminated workout poster. The workout poster shows you the five basic push up positions:
- Regular Position with hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart
- Wide Position
- Narrow or Close Position
- Knee Position
- Chair/Decline Position
For each Perfect Pushup variation, the poster shows your the recommended hand rotation for each move. For a beginner who has never performed any of these variation with a standard pushup, the chart would be useful. However, for a trainee who already has knowledge of these alternative positions, it doesn’t bring much value.
The information on the backside of the Perfect Pushup poster is more useful. It provides a Perfect Pushup workout schedule, a 2 minute Navy Seal drill routine, and instructions on how to determine your Perfect Pushup one set max. It also has some suggestions for customizing the basic workout routine and pointers on maintaining form and proper breathing during the exercises.
The DVD had little value. It only offered a demonstration of the exercises and techniques that were already on the Perfect Pushup poster. For a beginner, it might be useful to see the motion demonstrated by an actual model, but beyond that, it probably would never be watched again.
The Perfect Pushup Workout Plan
The Perfect Pushup Basic comes with an instructional DVD and and a single 21-day “Get Ripped” (their words, not mine) workout plan based on “Navy SEAL-style” Two-Minute Drills.
This Perfect Pushup workout routine basically has you doing a drop-set of Perfect Pushups during a two minute period, totaling 3-4 sets. You then perform two more Two-Minute Drills across the day for wide position and close/narrow position, for a total of 9-12 sets each day. Some days, the workout plan has you performing pushups with your feet on a chair (in both wide and narrow-grip positions), which simulates an incline bench position and targets your upper pecs and front-delts more than the flat position.
The Perfect Pushup workout schedule is basically a one-day-on and one-day-off schedule, so you always have a rest and recovery day in between.
If you have problems performing the standard Perfect Pushup, there also is a variation of the workout plan that allows you to perform the exercises from your knees until you build additional strength to perform them completely from the upright position.
The Perfect Pushup: A More Challenging Pushup?
The actual number of reps for each Two-Minute Drill period depends on your One-Rep Max with the Perfect Pushups. I had heard to expect that you wouldn’t be able to do as many Perfect Pushups as you could regular pushups, but I was surprised at how few reps I could actually perform on the Perfect Pushup equipment.
Normally I can do between 40-50 standard pushups (with good form and chest nearly to the ground) in a single set. But I was stunned to find myself struggling to get 20 reps done on The Perfect Pushup. So in my case, at least, I had about a 50 percent reduction in total sets achievable versus standard pushups.
Well, there were a couple things I noticed right away when using the Perfect Pushup that differed from standard pushups:
1. Additional Stabilizer Recruitment
First, there is no doubt that the Perfect Pushup challenges your stabilizer muscles more thoroughly than a standard pushup. It’s not just the rotation movement that does this, but also trying to maintain a fixed hand position against an “instable” surface (in this case, a handle/paddle that rotates.) I was shaking slightly through the triceps and shoulders using the Perfect Pushup, something that I don’t even experience during dumbbell chest presses. It’s the same type of shakiness that you can experience on a stability ball or a balance board.
2. Change in Grip
Second, grabbing the handles in a new position also seemed to hasten fatigue and limit by total reps. Over a few days, this seemed to improve as I adapted to the change in hand position. This isn’t uncommon when starting a new exercise, and I adjusted within a few workouts.
3. Shift In Load
Third, the Perfect Pushup actually seems to put much more of the load on your shoulders, triceps and rear-delts. In fact, I didn’t actually even get the sense that my chest was being worked that hard. Normally after a set of standard pushups, I’ll feel a pump and fatigue in my pecs, but that never really seemed to happen with the Perfect Pushup.
I did, however, feel fatique in my triceps, rear delts and front-delts in a way that was much more pronounced than with standard pushups.
Perfect Pushup Results: Does It Really Work?
After using the Perfect Pushup for approximately two weeks (following the “Get Ripped” workout plan) I did see a slight, but noticeable, improvement in overall muscle development in my chest, shoulders and rear-delts.
It’s difficult to credit The Perfect Pushup alone for these gains, since I utilized the Perfect Pushup in addition to my regular workout routine — which I tried to keep as consistent as possible during the duration of my experimentation with the Perfect Pushup.
I definitely experienced progress over the two weeks in terms of how many reps I could perform, and the early “shakiness” that I had the first few times I used the Perfect Pushup resolved itself within 2-3 workouts. From there on out, I was able to play around with some more advanced variations on the basic movements, which was kind of fun.
I did notice some soreness early on, especially in my lower lats, which is similar to what I experience when performing conventional pushups with a wide-grip and my hands elevated on platforms or pushup bars. So this tells me that the Perfect Pushup grips are allowing me to move past parallel and get some nice back recruitment.
However, within a few days, the delayed onset muscle soreness more or less stopped happening as my body adapted to the variations in the movement and exercise.
Get Ripped With The Perfect Pushup?
Will you “Get Ripped” using the Perfect Pushup (as the Perfect Pushup marketing suggests) and look like the male or female fitness models that BodyRev loves to plaster all over their commercials, packaging and website?
Pushups, whether performed with the Perfect Pushup, or performed “Old Skool” style are not going to build tons of muscle mass. Body-weight exercises just don’t provide enough ongoing, progressive overload to trigger this type of development (unless you start adding resistance via a weight vest, for example) And at some point, your strength gains will plateau as well. Now, there are definitely some things you can do with tempo and rest-periods to continue to challenge and overload your muscles with body-weight exercises like pushups, but at some point, your gains are going to even off.
This doesn’t mean you should perform them, since they are excellent conditioning exercises, can add hardness and definition to the chest, shoulders and back, but eventually you’ll need to figure out ways to challenge yourself with more resistance. So pushups are best used as a supplemental exercise (I know plenty of people who perform then every morning, in addition to their normal workouts), and not as your primary exercise for strengthening the back, chest and shoulders.
Also, you need to understand what “getting ripped” means and requires. Being ripped means plenty of muscle mass with low body-fat levels. The models (both male and female) on the Perfect Pushup website have that lean, muscular look because they are carrying very low body-fat levels for their size and gender. I would estimate the female models at having around 12-15% body fat, and the male model is easily sub-10%. And I can also guarantee that they didn’t develop that physique by just doing endless sets of Perfect Pushups.
Simply put, you don’t get that kind of body just pumping out pushups every day, no matter how “perfect” the pushups are. Getting ripped takes a holistic approach to exercise and fitness, and it also requires eating clean, including some cardiovascular exercise and training your entire body — not just your pecs, delts and lats.
Something like the Perfect Pushup can certainly help, but it won’t be the foundation of your workout and exercise routine, and isn’t going to get you in ripped shape alone. Just understand that going into things.
Does The Perfect Pushup Work Your Abs?
As I mentioned early, the Perfect Pushup (or any pushup for that matter) will help improve core stability, including stability in the abdominal area.
When you are performing a pushup, you are in essence holding yourself in a plank position, which strengthens both the abs, obliques and lower-back/lumbar. You don’t need the Perfect Pushup to perform this type of exercise, but it does maximize your time, since you are basically combining a plank position with a move that also targets other muscle groups.
That said, while a pushup can strengthen your core, it won’t give you washboard abs. There isn’t enough contraction or range of motion involved to create that kind of muscle growth or definition in your abs. So while the Perfect Pushup can certainly help you build core strength, it’s not going to give you anything close to a six pack. Anyone online who tells you otherwise (and I’ve seen several “reviewers” of the Perfect Pushup claim this on other sites) is either smoking something or is a paid shill for a website that is trying to sell you the Perfect Pushup.
Where Can I Get Additional Perfect Pushup Routines?
The Perfect Pushup workout poster that accompanies the Basic Set says that you can visit the Perfect Pushup website to “see new and even more challenging workout drills.”
However, when I visited the “Workouts” section Perfectpushup.com, I was disappointed to only find three additional workout moves: The Power Punch, One Arm Assist, and a Shoulder Press. The last time it was updated with a new workout was May of 2008 and the July-Aug 2007 workout was the same as the Sept-Oct 2007 Perfect Pushup workout. So I wouldn’t count on finding many freebies on the Perfect Pushup website.
You can sign up for an email newsletter on the site that promises to send you new Perfect Pushup workouts, tips and special offers, so in the interest of science, I signed myself up for it. At the time of writing this review, I hadn’t received anything yet. So check back and I’ll let you know whether it’s value-add or add-spam.
If you buy the Perfect Pushup Complete or Quick Start Kit sets, you will get both of the Power 10 workout DVDs and Power 10 Workout Cards. The Perfect Pushup Quick Start Kit also has a set of cards for the knee workouts.
The Perfect Pushup workout DVDs and cards are also for sale individually on the Perfect Pushup website. However, if you are interested in the workout DVDs and cards, the best option is just to pay the extra $10 and buy the Perfect Pushup Quick Start Kit, which includes all of them. Buying them individually would cost you $40 – so if you purchase them as part of the Quick Start Kit, you are saving $30 dollars.
Review Summary: The Perfect Pushup: Hype or Happening?
So is the Perfect Pushup just “hype” or is it “happening?”
Overall, I would say this is a solid product that can find a place in anyone’s home gym or fitness equipment collection.
Is it required? No way. But in a world of fitness gadgets that rarely delivery any value, the Perfect Pushup does stand out as exceptional from this perspective.
I’m also a bit skeptical of all of the claims on other review sites around how the Perfect Pushup allowed them to become “completely shredded”, build big biceps, develop six pack abs, or “become huge.” Even with some of the advanced movements that I tried, bicep recruitment was minimal. The primary muscle groups worked out with the Perfect Pushup are the pecs (chest), front and rear delts, triceps, and to some degree, the subscapularis.
The Perfect Pushup will probably produce the most dramatic results in people who are not already regularly performing pushups as part of their training, or are just beginning a resistance training routine. A lot of the reviews of the Perfect Pushup that I read as part of researching this review were from people that I would consider to be “beginners” when it comes to training.
For example, I heard a number of people comment that their biceps and forearms — as well as abs — were sore after performing the Perfect Pushup. I never experienced anything close to this during my two week training. However, this would be something that I might expect to hear from someone who doesn’t have much previous conditioning from standard pushups.
Bottom line is that for most intermediate and advanced trainees, I can’t see the Perfect Pushup radically-transforming your chest and upper body training. And eventually, even beginners will plateau. Without adding additional resistance (which is challenging with pushups), sooner or later you’ll find yourself primarily training for endurance and not hypertrophy.
That said, the Perfect Pushup does add some interesting and novel tweaks to the usual pushup, which will help you with better overall development, coordination, strength and balance.
Keeping your muscles constantly guessing is one of the ways you make progress, so anytime you throw something new in — like the Perfect Pushup — it’s generally a good thing. But by no means could you not make similar progress with a good standard pushup workout routine that introduces some variations to hand positioning.
Additional Perfect Pushup Review Notes
- Price: $39.99 is a bit expensive in my opinion for this product. I know it can be found for less, so this may not be much of an issue. If all you are looking for is wrist stabilization, opt instead for a pair of pushup bars, which you can pickup for less than $20.
- Not making more workouts available online: I realize that one of the ways to “productize” the Perfect Pushup from a marketing and merchandising perspective is to package it with different accessories, like workout posters, cards and DVDs and charge more.But why not offer all of the exercise video content available online as clips, or provide printable workout sheets or cards for free? Offer it as a free value-add when you buy the product, and then use it to drive traffic and interaction with the Perfect Pushup website. This would provide more opportunities to cross sell products like the Perfect Pullup, as well as help people more effectively use the product. If people want a version that includes “hardcopy” of the DVDs and workout cards, then offer that for a little more, since there are material-costs involved.
- Confusing Perfect Pushup Workout Plan: The Perfect Pushup workout plan that accompanies the product was actually somewhat confusing. I wasn’t sure initially if the 2-Minute Drills Routine was a separate workout plan in addition to 21-Day Get Ripped Workout. I think this could be solved by laying the Perfect Pushup poster and chart out differently. It’s a minor point that I don’t want to harp on to much, but it did take me about 20 minutes to figure it all out.
Where Can I Buy The Perfect Pushup?
Have You Used the Perfect Pushup? What do YOU Think?
If you’ve used the Perfect Pushup and have an opinion or story (good or bad) share it with us by leaving your review below in the comments area. I’m really interested in hearing what other people thing of this product.
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Category: Fitness and Exercise Gadgets