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How to Do Plyometric Push-ups

Reviewed by Dany Paul Baby, MD on July 08, 2022

Plyometric push-ups are an advanced set of exercises that work different body parts. We look at how to do plyometric push-ups and the benefits of this exercise.

What Are Plyometric Push-ups

Plyometric (or, plyo) push-ups are a set of exercises that focus on your chest, shoulders, triceps, and abs. These push-ups are designed to give you more power, which is essential for fast and explosive movements.

This is a very effective exercise that’s highly recommended for athletes who play sports that involve over-the-head throwing. Plyometric exercises improve sports performance because of the muscle groups that they act upon and help athletes produce short bursts of high-energy performance.

Athletes are constantly on the lookout to enhance their performances and gain an edge over their competitors. Success in several sports involves three main factors – strength, power, and endurance.

All these aspects can be improved with resistance training, and plyometric push-ups are a great way to strengthen the main muscle groups for sports such as basketball, swimming, and tennis, where overhead movements is an important aspect of performance.

How to Do Plyometric Push-ups

You don’t need any special equipment to do plyo push-ups. You can do these push-ups either on the floor or on an exercise mat.

Step 1. This is the starting position before you begin the push-ups. Place your knees on the floor or the mat in a kneeling position and keep your feet together behind you.

Step 2. Bend forward and place your palms on the floor. The distance between your palms should be about the same width as your shoulders. Your fingers can either face forward or slightly inward.

Now, shift your weight forward gradually until your shoulders are positioned directly above your palms. If you want, you can adjust your hands and feet to make sure that your knees and hips are not bent. At this point, your position is similar to a plank position.

Now, contract your abdomen, your glutes (the muscles in your buttocks), and your quadriceps (the muscles in the front of your thigh).

Bring your feet together and put your ankles in a dorsiflexed position, where your toes are pointing toward your shins instead of pointing toward the ground.

Step 3. This is the downward phase. Once you’re comfortable with the position described in step 2, lower your body rapidly, giving your body the maximum range of motion that’s possible until your chest is a few inches off the floor.

Throughout this movement, your head should be aligned with your spine. Also, make sure that your entire body is set in a straight line. This means preventing your lower back to sink and your hips from moving up.

Your hands should fold at the elbows (move outwards) during your downward movement and then straighten when you come up. The elbows are the only parts that are allowed to change position during this exercise. This movement is what flexes the muscle groups in your shoulders and chest.

Step 4. This is the upward phase. Move upwards explosively using the strength in your arms to generate enough momentum to leave the ground.

Imagine that you’re pushing the floor away from you while doing this movement. Keep in mind that you should not allow your back and hips to sink or move up respectively.

Step 5. As your hands lift off the floor, quickly bring them together to complete a clap and then move them back to the floor as softly as possible to get back to the same position as it was at the beginning of step 3.

Perform multiple repetitions of this movement rapidly while making sure that you maintain the correct posture. This is especially essential because of the rapid and powerful movements that this exercise involves and any misstep could lead to serious injuries.

You should not round out or elevate your shoulders, and your head should remain in alignment with your spine.

Variations of Plyometric Push-ups

You can do other variations of the plyometric push-ups to work specific muscle groups.

Deficit push-up. This variation begins with keeping your hands at a higher level than your toes. Keep a book, yoga block, or any other stable platform below each of your hands when you come into the push-up position.

Place the platform of your choice on either side such that your torso can go between them and give you a longer range of motion from top to bottom. This increases the demands on the muscles in your chest and triceps.

Pull your elbows toward the sides of your body when you’re moving downward and bring your chest a few inches lower than a normal push-up. Then, push yourself upward until your elbows are completely straight to complete one repetition.

Box-drop push-ups. In this variation, you keep a box or yoga block under each hand and keep the area between the blocks empty. This area between the blocks is at the same level as your feet, and the blocks are at a higher level.

To begin, you place your hands at the center of the blocks (which are at the same level as your feet), push yourself up forcefully and then place your hands on the blocks on the sides. You then push yourself up again from the blocks and bring both your hands in between the blocks. This entire routine counts as one repetition.

You don’t need to complete a full push-up when your hands are on the blocks. You should instead flex your elbows enough to stop your movement when your hands move from the center to the top of the blocks and then again push yourself up to bring your hands to the center.

Benefits of Plyometric Push-ups

Plyometric push-ups mainly work on the muscle groups in your chest, shoulders, triceps, and abs. You can maximize muscle growth by including these exercises in your upper body routine.

This is especially true for powerlifters, weightlifters, and fighters. These exercises can also benefit general fitness enthusiasts by stimulating neurological development and building muscles.

Safety Tips While Doing Plyometric Push-ups

Plyometric exercises are an advanced routine typically used to train athletes and people with high fitness levels. Because of the tremendous force that’s needed to complete these push-ups, they are usually not recommended for those who are new to exercising.

If you want to do plyometric push-ups, make sure you already have a well-charted routine that involves strength training, as most of these exercises call for strong ligaments and tendons.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

American Council of Exercise: “Explosive Plyometric Workout,” “Push-up.”

International Journal of Current Research and Review: “Effect of Pushup Training on Upper Body Strength and Power in Young Adults.”

Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: “Kinematic Analysis of Four Plyometric Push Up Variations.”

National Academy of Sports Medicine: “Plyometric Push-Up.”

U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee: “5 Different Types of Push Ups For Every Fitness Goal.”

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