This total-body toner sculpts your chest, arms, abs—and fires up your fast twitch muscle fibers
The humble pushup still reigns supreme as perhaps the best total body toner out there. It hones in on your chest muscles, is a particularly great workout for your triceps (hello, tank top season!). Oh, and if you’re doing it right, you'll be one step closer to six-pack abs too. (Try these 13 Simple Ways to Amp Up Your Pushup.)
That’s all great, but what if we told you there’s a simple way to pump up the benefits even more—and not just by recruiting more muscles? The plyo pushup—during which you actually lift your hands up off the ground before lowering back down to the bottom of your pushup—adds a plyometric component to the move, so you’re building explosive strength to boot, says Ethan Grossman, personal trainer at PEAK Performance in New York City. (Just don’t prep with The Worst Kind of Stretching Before Plyometrics.)
“Explosive moves like the plyo pushup activate fast twitch/type II muscle fibers, which are important for blood sugar regulation, fat loss, and longevity,” says Grossman. And that explosive strength can transfer over into other workouts, like boosting your running intervals, for example.
Like many of the moves in our #MasterThisMove series (see: The Hang Power Snatch), this one is pretty advanced. So, test yourself to see if you’re ready before you attempt it, per Grossman: Have a friend watch you perform 10 regular bodyweight pushups with perfect form (straight back, chest to floor). If you struggle, you need to build up your strength first.
To do that, work planks, eccentric pushups (where you lower down very slowly until you reach the ground before resting and pushing back up to start), isometric pushups (where you hold at the bottom of your pushup as long as possible), and Medicine Ball Chest Passes into your routine a few times a week.
Then you can progress to attempting the plyo pushup against a wall.
A Start standing three to four feet away from a wall and place your hands on the wall, arms straight.
B Tuck your tailbone under and bring your chin to your neck.
C Pull yourself towards the wall bending your elbows and bringing them in towards your torso
D Forcefully press through your hands and accelerate them off of the wall without losing the position in your lower back and neck. Clap if you can.
E Catch yourself with a soft bend in your elbows without letting your chest fall closer to the wall.
F Reset between each rep to make sure you have maintained the above positions.
OK, ready for the real thing?
A Start in the plank position with your hands directly underneath your shoulders.
B Pull yourself towards the floor, bending your elbows and keeping them close to your sides.
C Forcefully press through your hands and accelerate them off of the floor without losing the position in your lower back and neck. Clap if you can.
D Catch yourself with a soft bend in your elbows without letting your chest fall closer to the floor.
E Reset between each rep to make sure you have maintained the above positions.