The effect of hand positioning on maximum push-up performance in adults
Push-ups are widely used in public school physical education classes, and by military and law enforcement organizations to test upper body muscular fitness. The majority of the test protocols do not specify a hand position. Some research has demonstrated that hand positioning has a significant effect of on electromyographic activity of the working muscles, ground reaction forces and elbow joint loads during single or sub-maximal push-ups. However there are no scientific studies on how a change of hand positions would affect performance in a maximal push-up test to volitional exhaustion. This study examined performance in a maximal push-up test in each of four different hand positions: self-selected, wide, shoulder width and narrow. After the characteristics of the individual self-selected positions were determined and recorded, 36 subjects (15 females and 21 males) performed push-up trials in each of the four randomly selected positions on four non-consecutive days. The maximum number of correct push-ups was recorded and statistically analyzed. Female subjects were able to perform significantly more push-ups in the wide position than in the narrow or shoulder width position (P < 0.05). Male subjects performed significantly more push-ups in the wide position than in the self-selected, the shoulder width or the narrow position (P < 0.01). The results of this study suggest that hand positioning can significantly affect the results of a push-up test and therefore should be controlled in such testing.
Brickey, Gregory D, "The effect of hand positioning on maximum push-up performance in adults" (2008). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1461141.