How Does the YBell Top Grip Improve Push-Up Performance?

Posted by Casey Stenehjem on Mar 4th 2022

A woman using the YBell top grip to do push-ups in her home gym
Using the YBell top grip improves your wrist health, increases your range of motion, and helps you to perfect your push-up form.

Do Push-Up Stands or Parallettes Really Help with Push-Up Performance?

If you’ve ever used a YBell, you know that a grip change is an equipment change with our unique, 4-in-1 design. The YBell is a dumbbell, a kettlebell, a double-grip medicine ball, and a push-up stand, all in one piece of equipment.

In this article, we're going to specifically discuss the YBell top grip — the grip you use when the YBell is acting as a push-ups handle. My goal is to help you understand the benefits of using push-up bars, the YBell top grip, and why both matter to your fitness endeavors.

What Are Push-Up Handles?

Push-ups are a great compound exercise performed in high-school physical education classes, clubs and studios, and military basic training. It's no wonder that push-up handles are becoming a staple in home gyms and workout studios alike.

Push-up handles (also called press-up bars, push-up bars, or push-up stands, which are all used interchangeably) are simply a straight, sturdy structure that allows you to wrap your grip around them and lockout your wrist with minimal flexion. Push-up stands are a great tool to use if you’re looking to improve your grip strength.

Push-up bars make a classic push-up movement more accessible while simultaneously increasing the difficulty. I know that sounds like a contradiction right off the bat, but it's true if you think about it:

Push-up Bars Make Push-ups Easier

If you have carpal tunnel syndrome or suffer from wrist pain, push-up stands will allow you to target all the muscles used in a push-up while improving your alignment and reducing stress on the targeted joints and muscle groups. This in turn improves your push-up form, ensuring that you have greater muscle recruitment and control throughout the entire movement.

Using push-up bars can allow you to use a static hold when performing a push-up, which takes the bend out of your wrists. Additionally, using push-up stands over time can improve your grip strength, opening the door to many other wrist-heavy movements.

Push-up Bars Can Challenge Your Muscles More

Push-up bars provide a better overall workout compared to floor push-ups. If you’re someone who wants more of a challenge when it comes to push-ups, using push-up stands will offer more range of motion throughout the movement. A broader range of motion increases the time your muscles are under tension, which can increase your strength and muscle development.

Here's a great example of increased muscle development: Push-up stands elevate your hands, which means your chest can dip lower than your hands. That deeper dip abducts your shoulder joints and muscles to a greater degree, causing your pectoralis major to do more work. So doing deeper push-ups can give you more defined chest muscles.

How Does the YBell Compare to Other Push-Up Stands?

Push-up stands are a common and very affordable piece of workout equipment. However, they don't all size up to be the same. As you can imagine, the more stable the structure, the safer they are for you to try different force patterns or apply more weight.

An example of a force pattern includes creating outward tension with your wrists and forearms as you push yourself up from the bottom of the push-up or squeezing the top grip. Both of these cues will quickly enhance the recruitment of your pectorals, delts, and triceps while performing a push-up. Enhanced muscle recruitment will significantly increase the challenge and effectiveness of the movement, which is why it's essential to have a stable, wide-based structure such as the YBell to avoid rolling out and potentially injuring your muscles and wrists.

Here are additional things to look out for when comparing YBells to traditional push-up bars:

1. Look for Slip-Resistant Push-up Handles

To ensure safety and avoid injury, you’ll want push-up handles that won’t slip or move around on the floor while you’re exercising. Rubber footpads or neoprene coating on the bottom of the stands is a must.

Your hands can get sweaty pretty quickly during a high-intensity workout. You need push-up handles that'll withstand sweat to ensure a firm grip as you push your weight against them. You'll also want the handle to be slip-resistant.

The YBell Neo is encased in a nonslip, rust-resistant neoprene coating, making its base and handles slip-resistant for your push-up rows, burpees, and other groundwork like a YBell abs and core workout.

2. Invest in Metal Push-up Bars

Push-up stands come in many materials and shapes. The less expensive bars tend to be made from plastic, while others are made entirely from metal. Plastic push-up bars are best known for being ultra-lightweight, but the flip side is that they're much less durable than metal bars. Plastic press-up bars are also more likely to bend or break over time.

The YBell is cast iron, which means they'll be with you for your entire fitness journey. YBells are durable home workout equipment, whether you use them solely for improving your push-up form, for Tabata workouts, or functional training.

3. Find One-Piece Push-up Stands

Many push-up stands boast about their easy assembly and disassembly for working out on the go. But the general rule of thumb for all equipment (electronics, furniture, and workout alike) holds true: the more pieces there are, the more chances something will go wrong. What if you accidentally leave the handle at home or bend the base while taking it apart? Additionally, multi-piece push-up stands are often made of plastic, making them less ideal for high-intensity training or excessive pressure.

YBell Pros are cast as a single piece, making them sturdy and ideal for multiple workouts, from resistance training to cardio workouts to tactical training.

4. Avoid Using Dumbbells and Kettlebells as Push-up Handles

While kettlebells and dumbbells may seem like a convenient substitute for press-up bars, we don't recommend going that route. You want sturdy bars designed to withstand the pressure of your body weight while being used on the ground. Additionally, dumbbells won't give you enough height for that deep range of motion that push-up handles offer.

The YBell’s weight, shape, and neoprene coating make it incredibly stable for groundwork and deep push-ups. With YBell’s multi-handle design and unique grip transitions, you can easily switch to a center grip to perform dumbbell bicep curls or an outer grip for kettlebell high swings.

Athletes performing YBell push-up rows in an outdoor training class
YBells were expertly designed to be the perfect push-up bars.

5 Reasons the YBell Top Grip is Right For You

Top grip is where the YBell stays on the ground, and you use the top handle as a push-up bar. Using a top grip allows you to target different muscle groups in your body by changing the angle you position the YBells into for your push-ups and groundwork.

1. Top Grip Improves Your Wrist Health

In a perfect world, the range of motion in your wrists would be ready to handle your total weight at 90-degree flexion for extended periods. However, for most, this isn't the case.

One of the most prominent strength training rules is not moving into pain. Most people "deal" with the pain in their wrist while doing planks, push-ups, or any other variation of wrist-heavy flexion movements. This method will not help improve your wrist pain; it will likely exasperate it.

Top grip with the YBell will help to mitigate these wrist health issues. Top grip allows your wrists to remain neutral as you stack your wrists and forearm joints parallel (keeping the forearm in alignment), reducing tension on the carpal tunnel. Lowered pressure removes the strain in those joints throughout the movement, allowing you to train without pain. Furthermore, better alignment allows for greater muscle control, which will improve your push-up form.

I should note that this will not eliminate the range of motion limitations that are causing wrist pain in the first place, but it will not make it worse. Again, it is imperative to train pain-free! I highly recommend the YBell top grip if you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, or ganglion cysts.

2. Top Grip Increases Your Range of Motion and Depth

What will you only get better at if you only do push-ups with about 30% depth? You guessed it: 30% depth. That limited range will not improve the quality of your push-ups. It will only improve your strength at that specific depth, with no additional improvement to your mobility. It's vital to work within your entire range of motion to improve your push-up form, increase your reps, overall strength, and results.

Using top grip with YBells will allow you to have a deeper range of motion than simply using the floor. YBells elevate you, allowing you to go past that end range that the floor provides. This elevation will put more stress (AKA challenge) on your pectorals, deltoids (shoulder muscles), and triceps, enhancing your overall strength.

Using the YBell top grip for increased range of motion also applies to those individuals who can't yet do a full push-up on their toes. Push-up handles are a great tool to help bridge that challenging gap while training the full range of motion on the knees to fully coming up to the toes. Using YBells for push-ups from your knees still gives you a deeper dip in your shoulders, which leads to more defined chest muscles by making the pectoralis major do more work.

3. Top Grip Gives You More Control

The YBell top grip allows you to increase or decrease the difficulty of any push-up without losing control of your grip strength — whether you're performing pike push-ups, plyometric push-ups, or adjusting the placement of the YBell for wide or narrow push-ups.

The deeper range of motion provided by your YBells creates a deeper contraction in your chest muscles during the upward movement away from the floor. Elevating your hands also means that gravity offers increased resistance to your biceps and triceps, which adds intensity while only using your bodyweight.

Furthermore, squeezing the top grip leads to increased tension in the forearm, elbow, shoulder, scapula, and core, allowing greater control of the overall movement, and improving your grip strength.

4. Top Grip Enhances Core Strength

Widening your push-ups modifies your hand placement while keeping your body aligned to a plank position. This alignment, along with a YBell top grip, allows you to build your upper body and properly engage your core while performing push-ups.

Widening your arm span with your YBells creates more significant muscle contraction in your lower back and abs. Stabilizing your torso as a single unit enhances your core strength, protects your lower back, and reinforces proper form for your spinal alignment.

Top grip isn't just for push-ups
Male athlete performing kick throughs with the YBell top grip.

5. Top Grip Goes Beyond Push-ups

You can use push-up handles for anything that requires your wrists to be on the ground at full flexion. This includes basic movements like planks and mountain climbers to more challenging exercises like L-sits, reverse tabletop holds, and even handstands. Using a YBell top grip opens up the possibility of performing these wrist-heavy movements for those who suffer from wrist pain.

Top grip and YBells are a bit more than meets the eye. They not only open the door to reduce (if not eliminate) wrist pain while training, they also offer a significant challenge and change to how you perform push-ups or any other challenging movement that requires your wrists to be on the ground. Give YBells a try as push-up handles and see for yourself!

Casey Stenehjem

Casey has been a health and fitness professional since 2009, after graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science. She has helped hundreds of people achieve their fitness goals. From working with beginners, youth, older adults, and almost everyone in between, Casey loves to blend her diverse knowledge and experience to help guide her clients to where they want to be. Her philosophy is simple: meet people where they are today in order to help them learn, grow, and excel through education in nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle changes unique to them.

Casey’s certifications include:

  • Z-health R-phase, Z-health I-phase, Z-health S-phase, Z-health T-phase, Z-Health Strength and Suppleness  
  • Functional Range Conditioning Level 1
  • NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist
  • ACE Certified Personal Trainer  
  • Precision Nutrition Level 1  
  • USA Weightlifting Certified