Ubiquity, more often than not, is a curse in the fitness world. If it's everywhere, chances are that it's also over-hyped. That can only mean on thing: it's also a piece of shit if it's being pushed that hard! Only a few legitimate pieces of training equipment manage to elude this fate: most notably, barbells and dumbbells. Stuff like the Perfect Push-up get about as much respect as the 5 lbs, plastic-coated kettlebell and workout DVD set it's placed next to on clearance at your local Wal-Mart.
WHAT A SAD, LITTLE PIECE OF SHIT!
That's just too bad. I'm not going to go so far as to elevate it to the same pantheon of all-time great training gear as the ancient barbell or dumbbell but I'm quick to defend this often-maligned piece of gear. I've actually got the original and the travel version. I started out like everyone else about this thing: I was very skeptical. Rather than pay good money for something that might turn out to be complete junk, I did the next best thing: I put it out there as a suggestion to anyone looking for a gift for me for Christmas. My wife took the bait, and I got to work on trying it out.
How do these work? They provide the shoulders with more work. Why they do this is pretty simple to understand once you get an info dump on the Deltoid muscle. The Delt is a classic example of multipennate muscle fiber. What that means is the fibers of the muscle are laid in a feather-like arrangement. So, when they contract, they move in a somewhat circular manner. This creates a lot of tension and power in a short movement... or so the creater of the PP, Alden Mills, says, and who am I to disagree with a former platoon commander of SEAL Team Two?
So the Perfect Push-up, by adding rotation to the movement in addition to moving the body up and down, creates more Delt recruitment. So, this dual-action helps make the push-up harder, often reducing the number of reps by 1/3 to 1/2, depending on the push-up variation. That's why I think that they rock so much!
So, if you're doing 50 push-ups without the PP, now you're doing 33...
Wait a second...
This is bullshit, right? It's still well within the realm of the dreaded, muscular-bulk-choking strength endurance! So, what the hell's the point of shelling out the $30 or $40 that these things are going for if there's no "real, serious" strength training benefit?
Think beyond the possibilities of little instruction cards and posters included with the PP. Remember that push-ups are a family of exercises, not just one exercise. So, you just have to look to other push-up variations. So, do other push-ups with them than just the standard push-ups!
Candidate number one for PP's is one of my favorite exercises of all: the handstand push-up. The PP is plenty rugged enough to handle my entire bodyweight bearing down on them and will easily slice off 1/2 of your reps that you're capable of doing due to the rotation and the extra 4 inches of extra height you can lower yourself.
Still not enough? What about one arm push-ups? Did you ever consider those because you can do those on the PP's as well! I started doing those late, last year. Since the handles elevate the body, they make the OAP a little easier on the abs and obliques. That overall ease rapidly disappears as the body dips down, below the handle. Coming back up also becomes more difficult too. Once again, expect at least a 50% drop in reps.
On both push-ups, start out with the handles parallel to your body, rotating them to perpendicular as you drop down.
One thing that anyone who decides to use BW as a part of strength training will quickly realize is that this style of training requires the user to look past the obvious two methods of making an exercise harder: add more reps and/or add more weight. The former only works for so long and the latter costs money and demands more and more stuff. Maybe the perpetual demand for more of the ferrous stuff isn't a problem for you. Others aren't so well endowed. So, I like the PP because it introduced something me to a new, yet simple, way to make an exercise family that is so ubiquitous in the fitness world harder.