Do the Perfect Push Up and Perfect Pull Up Really Work?

I’ve talked about the Perfect Push Up product in the past, and now there is even a Perfect Pull Up, but up until recently there hasn’t been any research on the efficacy of these devices.  That is, until now!

Two recent studies by a group from the Mayo clinic were just published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (here are the links to the two studies on the Perfect Push Up and the Perfect Pull Up).  Results are probably not what the companies want to hear, but be sure to read my thoughts below before you judge.

Does the Perfect Push Up or Perfect Pull Up Really Do Anything?

To answer this question, lets look at these two studies in detail and see if using the devices changes the amount of muscle activity.

Perfect Push Up Science

Perfect Push UpDuring the study for the Perfect Push Up, the authors looked at EMG of the triceps, pectoralis major, serratus anterior, and posterior deltoid.  Results demonstrate that there were no significant differences when performing a standard push up versus using the Perfect Push Up.  This was shown for normal, wide, and narrow hand positions.

Perfect Pull Up Science

Perfect Pull UpDuring the study for the Perfect Pull Up, the authors looked at EMG activity for the latissimus, biceps, infraspinatus, lower trapezius, pectoralis major, erector spinae, and external oblique.  Similar to the Perfect Push Up, there was no significant difference between the pull up (or chin up – this is actually the same study that we discussed last week) using a standard straight bar or the Perfect Pull Up

Should We Use the Perfect Push Up or the Perfect Pull Up?

I still like the Perfect Push Up.  At the very least, they are great handles, which should help a lot of people perform a push up exercise and spare their wrists.  I would not jump to conclusions and say that the Perfect Push Up is useless, one muscle group that was not investigated that may still be impacted by the Perfect Push Up is the subscapularis.  The authors did not look at EMG of the subscapularis.  As a user of the Perfect Push Up, I can tell you there is a noticeable difference, most likely coming from the internal rotation of the shoulder that you achieve at full arm extension.

As for the Perfect Pull Up, I would probably pass as I don’t think there is much to them.  The twisting and mobility of the attachment does not seem to impact the exercise.

Regardless, both are fairly cheap, so if they help your wrists or even help motivate you somehow, go get ‘em!  I think they are both fairly cheap on Amazon at the above links.  UPDATE: I don’t love the newer version of the Perfect Push Up, it is cheaper.  Go with the Perfect Push Up Elite model.

I still like the Perfect Push Up.  What has been your experience?  Have you tried either the Perfect Push Up or the Perfect Pull Up and liked or disliked them?

  • Shaun

    I have used the perfect push-ups and would agree that they do seem to have benefit over a standard push-up. Like you said, if nothing else, they spare your wrists with the ergonomic handles. I am always surprised that after I use these, the area I am most sore is not my chest, but in fact my back! I never get this effect with standard push-ups. There is definitely something to say for the muscle activity being produced with the rotational movement of the handles. I would be interested to see a study performed to include more muscle groups (ones that contribute to shoulder rotation), such as the subscapularis, latissimus dorsi, teres minor, infraspinatus, etc. I would be surprised to not see a difference.

  • I love the perfect push up. It is way more difficult to do than a standard push up. It feels like a 3-1 effect. I can do 1 perfect push up for every standard push up, which really speeds up my workouts.

  • Andrew

    I have used both, but I definitely have more experience with the perfect pull-up, which I love. I like the perfect pull-up as a nice change of pace exercise at home from regular pull-ups and chin-ups at the gym. It may not be better than standard, but it changes your workout just enough to make it fun.

    The reason that I would recommend the perfect pull-up is the versatility that it affords. The way the bar is attached to the door frame allows for it to be converted from strictly a pull-up bar to one that can be used for inverted rows (the program calls them “Aussies”) and standing row. While most people cannot perform enough pull-ups to get a great workout, these variations allow you to work shoulder stabilizers from a different angle to improve their strength, leading to the ability to do more pull-ups.

    Plus completing the “Perfect” workouts as described, alternating pull-ups and push-ups will give a great upper body workout in 20 – 30 minutes.

  • Brian

    disclaimer: i have never used the Perfect Push Up. but i have always wondered about the twisting motion of the arm while loading the glenohumeral joint. could this not have a potential negative impact on the labrum? thoughts?

    • Thats interesting Brian, I always worry about stuff like that too but haven’t had any issues at all.

  • I would have to agree with the author here. The perfect push up works for me. I feel it’s a very efficient exercise. So I do two sets and if that’s all I do for arms that day, I still see results. 90% gain for 20% effort. I’m female so pull ups are tough for me to do more than 3. Where as I can do sets of push ups.

  • We like the Perfect Push-Up at Driveline Baseball – our pitchers use it quite a bit. You’re right – they are cheap handles at the very least, but the added use of internal humeral rotation and activation of the pronator-flexor mass (also not measured) could be very valuable.

  • Trevor Winnegge PT,DPT,MS,OCS,CSCS

    I, too, use both. I love the perfect push ups-defintely feel more than a regular push up. I agree 100% with Andrew in that the perfect pull up bar is great for its versatility. A standard pull up is difficult to do for a big guy like me, but the inverted row and standing pull ups are great. Plus the ab straps it comes with work well too. For twenty dollars I think it is well worth it. I love both products!

  • Robin

    Hey Mike,
    I received an email about the perfect pull-up recall.
    Thought I should give you the post

    • awesome! These must really work on your “stability!”

  • Ben

    Warning: I have never used the perfect push-up!

    From a rehab perspective, I have advised many “shoulder” patients away from this for fear of improper use and pressure on the labrum as one declines into a deep push up – similar to advising labral repairs to limiting the depth of bench press.


  • The rotating motion is akin to Dumbbell Press with a twisting motion at the top. Seems to do ‘something’ for the pecs. I actually twist both directions, sometimes clockwise, sometimes counter.

    Instead of the Perfect Pullup, I use the Jungle Gym. Works great! and you can twist on it as well, or go wide, or change grips without even getting down.

  • G.Beamon

    I use both pieces of gear regularly, including the mobile unit when I travel. The Push handles are great. Rather than use the pull ups as the instructions indicate I use it as a perfect chin up, using it with a palms-in grip and doing a combination hammer and chin up 4-count rep. I find this is the best workout for my bi’s that I can do. I use a standard wide grip without the handles for pull ups. When used in this way, I think the set up is excellent.

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