Sunday, April 10, 2016

Upper Body Plyometrics: Part 1

In the previous weeks I have covered lower body plyometrics from the ground up, literally; starting with proper landing mechanics and advancing to elite level plyometrics. However, this is only half of your true plyometric development, we must now focus on upper body plyometrics and explosiveness!
Much like with lower body plyos, upper body plyos do not need very much equipment or space to be done effectively and efficiently. The most equipment you really need for upper body plyos is your own bodyweight, a medicine ball, a wall (that can withstand a little pounding from a medicine ball), and a few small 3-6” plates or boxes. This week we will begin with predominantly chest oriented plyometrics.
Plyo Push-Up/Clap Push-Up

The name is a bit self-explanatory. Start in a push-up position, elbows locked out, core engaged, without the hips overly extending (butt in air) or sagging down below the shoulders. Slowly lower yourself to the floor, and then forcefully “push the ground away from you” as you extend the elbows. As you come back down to the ground, be sure to absorb the floor to slow yourself down so is not to smack your face/body back into the ground.

½ Kneeling Medicine Ball Chest Pass

This is perhaps my most utilized and favorite upper body plyometric, both in my own routine and that of my athletes. The ½ kneeling medicine ball chest pass is a great teaching tool for one main reason: core engagement. When you are in a ½ kneeling position, you are potentially off-balanced and outside your center of gravity. An athlete cannot effectively perform the exercise WITHOUT fully engaging their core before they perform the movement. The manner in which I teach the movement is the same with any movement I teach: from the ground up. There are 4 steps to go through mentally before you perform the chest pass. I teach athletes to: drive their heel through the floor, squeeze the glutes, squeeze your abs, load your hands, and THEN explode your hands towards the wall. Also teaching them to absorb the ball when it inevitably returns to them.
Standing Medicine Ball Chest Pass

The next step in upper body plyometrics would be to perform the standing medicine ball chest pass. There is more stabilization to be done when standing on two feet than compared to the kneeling version. The premise is the same however; focus on driving the heels to the floor, squeezing the glutes and the abs, loading the hands, then exploding forward to the wall or your partner working with you.
As we put it all together, it’s really quite simple. Upper body plyometrics such as these should NOT make up the bulk of your workout. Rather, they should be used as a movement to prime the body for heavier, more strenuous exercises. Adding one or two of these movements for 2-3 sets of 3-8 reps before a upper body workout, or bench press oriented workout would be optimal. Until next time, be explosive, push the weight away from you, and happy lifting!

1Baechle, T.R. & Earle, R.W. (2008). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (3rd ed.). Champaign: Human Kinetics.
2Half-Kneeling MB Chest Pass. (n.d.). Retrieved April 3, 2016, from website:
3Lefkowith, C. (2015, March 25). How To Do A Push Up – Variations and Supplemental Exercises. Retrieved April 3, 2016, from website:
4Medicine Ball Chest Pass. (2015). Retrieved April 3, 2016, from website:

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