Plyometric (plyo) pushups are an advanced exercise that work your chest, triceps, abs, and shoulders. With this type of pushup, a “jumping” element is added to the exercise to make it more challenging and explosive.

Plyo pushups can help burn fat and build muscle. Many athletes perform them to help improve their athletic performance by building strength, endurance, and speed.

Plyo pushups aren’t recommended for beginners or anyone just starting out with a fitness training program. This exercise is best suited for individuals with well-developed upper-body strength.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of this exercise, how to do it safely, and ways to change it up to make it easier or more challenging.

As the name suggests, plyo pushups are a type of plyometric exercise. With these types of exercises, you work on exerting your muscles to their maximum potential in a short amount of time. This helps build endurance, speed, and strength in the muscles you’re targeting.

Plyometric exercises can get your heart rate up quickly. Studies show that these types of high-intensity exercises are effective at:

  • burning calories
  • reducing body fat
  • improving cardiovascular fitness

Performing plyo pushups along with other high-intensity interval training (HIIT) moves like burpees and jump squats can help you build strength while boosting your cardio fitness.

Plyo pushups can help strengthen many of the muscle groups in your upper body, including the muscles in your:

  • chest
  • abdominals
  • triceps
  • shoulders

Plyo pushups can also help activate fast-twitch muscle fibers in your chest, shoulders, and triceps. Working fast-twitch muscle fibers may help you build strength and muscle mass. Athletes depend on fast-twitch muscle fibers for explosive moves like those you see on the football field.

For best results, include plyo pushups in your workout routine twice a week with at least 48 hours of rest between sessions.

One study that examined how often plyometric exercises should be performed suggest twice a week may be the best frequency for building strength, performance, and agility.

More is not better in the case of plyometric exercises due to their high intensity.

To perform a plyo pushup, you don’t need any special equipment. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Start in a high plank, or at the top of pushup position. Your torso should be in a straight line, core engaged (tightened), and palms directly under your shoulders.
  2. Start to lower your body as if you’re going to do a pushup until your chest is almost touching the floor.
  3. As you push up, do so with enough force for your hands to leave the ground. For added difficulty, you can clap your hands together, but this is optional.
  4. Land lightly on the ground, moving into your next rep immediately.
  5. Perform 5 to 10 reps for 2 or 3 sets total. Do fewer reps if you’re new to the move, more if you’re advanced.

Plyo pushups aren’t recommended for beginners. You need a lot of upper body, shoulder, and core strength to correctly and safely do them. You can injure yourself if you don’t have the required level of strength and fitness.

Also avoid plyo pushups if you’re recovering from an injury.

To safely do a plyo pushup, make sure your:

  • hips are kept at the same level throughout the movement
  • upper thighs are kept in line with your torso
  • core is engaged throughout the movement to help protect your back

Give your muscles at least 48 hours to recover between doing plyo pushups.

Plyo pushups can be made easier by performing them on your knees. You don’t need any equipment, but you may want to put a yoga mat under your knees. Or you can try this exercise on a soft surface.

Follow these steps:

  1. Start in a plank position on your knees, kneeling forward slightly to get in a high plank position. Align your palms under your shoulders.
  2. Bend your arms to lower yourself into a pushup.
  3. Immediately push back up explosively, taking your hands off the floor.
  4. Land softly in your original starting position, moving into your next rep right away.

If you’ve mastered a regular plyo pushup, there are ways to make it more challenging. Only try these variations if you’re very confident in your upper-body strength.

To add an extra level of difficulty to a regular plyo pushup, you can:

  • Add an extra clap once you can easily do one clap.
  • Elevate your feet to create a decline plyo pushup. Only a small elevation increase is needed to make it harder.
  • If you’re very advanced, try clapping behind your body instead.

Plyo pushups are a challenging plyometric exercise that may help you gain upper-body strength. They can also help you build endurance, agility, and cardio fitness.

If you’re looking for a complete workout, you can add in other plyometric moves like jump squats, frog squat jumps, and burpees.

If you’re new to plyometrics, have a certified personal trainer at your gym demonstrate the moves for you. They can also watch your form and help you do the exercises correctly.