Plyometric Push-Up Variations

In recent articles I discussed the plyometric push-up, a very challenging yet beneficial plyometric-based upper body exercise to help all level lifters and athletes increase power output, enhance muscle firing rates, and activate greater motor units at one time. Just like plyometric training for the lower body, the plyometric push-up has some powerful variations that we can add into our routine to keep pushing our fitness upwards. Therefore, in this article, I wanted to shed some light on some challenging plyometric push-up variations you can try out to keep your training as varied and as challenging as possible.

The Clapping Push-Up (Single Claps)

Odds are you think of this plyometric variation when you hear plyometric push-ups, as it is commonly the most widely seen and done in most gyms. The clapping push-up (let’s stick with one-clap for now) has been compared against another push up variation on this list (the depth drop push-up) and was found to produce the higher amounts of vertical ground reaction force and elbow displacement than various depth drop push-ups heights, indicating (according to the researchers) that the clapping push-up is one of the more difficult plyometric push-ups around.

The Clapping Push-Up (Multiple Claps)

If one clap is challenging and effective, two must be better, right? Let’s assume that my opening statement here is a valid one. Performing more claps in the air most likely means you have more time to be in flight to clap more, regain awareness control, and place the hands in the receiving position…all of which require greater force outputs and explosiveness. While so people may get by because they have really fast clapping hands, I feel confident that as a whole, the more double and triple clamps one can do and/or behind the back and other hand movements (especially in repeated repetitions consecutively) the more likely that have some serious push-up power and awesomeness.

Deficit Plyometric Push-Up

Deficit push ups are great ways to increase the stretch on the pectorals, increase the range of motion, and demand the body to establish greater control at the deepest of flexion angles. Standard deficit push ups can have great carry over to bodyweight movements and chest development, making plyometric deficit push-ups a more challenging variation for those lifters who have mastered the deficit strict push up and basic clapping plyometric push-up movement. To perform this, the lifter will place their hands on two plates or blocks, increase the range of motion of the press, and perform repeated plyometric (and deeper) push-ups, increasing stress of the pectoralis, triceps, and anterior shoulder.

Depth Push-Ups (from Box)

Similar to depth drops/depth jumps for the lower body, the depth drop push-up has a lifter place their hands on the edge of a box and release themselves so that they have to absorb the eccentric loading when they hit the ground. They can then recycle the depth drop push-up over and over to performing a series of cyclical depth drop push ups, which in my book would then make it a deficit plyometric push-up (see above). In the research above (which concluded that the plyometric clapping push up to showcase the greatest amounts of ground reaction force), the depth drop push-up (from various heights) was the exercise that was compared to the clapping push up results.

Alternating Med Ball Plyometric Push Up

Not all plyometric push-ups need to have the lifter physically come 100% off the ground, however this is a key metric when eyeballing the movement for adequate power. The medicine ball alternating plyometric push-up has a lifter performing a push-up with one hand on the ball and the other on the floor, creating a unilateral high deficit. This increased demand for end range power and triceps strength in one arm (the arm/hand on the ball) can really work to increase unilateral power and velocity based motor movement. The lifter must powerfully press themselves up and raise the hand away from the ball, while transitioning the other hand to the ball and first hand to the floor to ensure stability.

All About Plyometric Push-Ups

Here are some of my latest articles on plyometric push-ups and how they can increase your chest and triceps development!

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