Using Plyometrics for the Best Chest Workout Ever!

by: Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN


Plyometrics Explained

Plyometrics is a type of exercise training designed to produce fast, powerful movements, and improve the functions of the nervous system, generally for the purpose of improving performance in a specific sport.

However, even the everyday person can use plyometrics if they want to get in shape, or become stronger and more powerful. When you think of plyometrics, think power! You'll see why when you try this chest workout.

Generally, plyometric movements, which involve the muscle being loaded and then contracted in rapid sequence, use the strength, elasticity, and innervation of muscle, and surrounding tissues to jump higher, run faster, throw farther, or hit harder, depending on the desired training goal.

Plyometrics is used to increase the speed or force of muscular contractions, often with the goal of increasing the height of a jump. That is most common use of this type of training, yet, in the video above, I've shown you a way to harness to power of plyometric training into a push-up based chest workout. Do this "explosive" workout just a few times and you'll notice some incredible improvements in your chest strength, as well as how it looks and feels.

The goal of plyometric training is to toughen tissues and train nerve cells so that muscle generates as strong a contraction as possible in the shortest amount of time. A plyometric contraction involves first a rapid muscle lengthening movement, followed by a short resting phase, then an explosive muscle shortening movement, which enables muscles to work together in doing the particular motion. Plyometric training engages the myostatic-reflex, which is the automatic contraction of muscle when their stretch nerve receptors are stimulated.

For instance, in a push-up, the chest (or pectoral) muscles lengthen as you lower your body towards the floor. This is the eccentric phase of contraction. As you explode (or push) your body up, your muscle shorten as they contract. This is the concentric phase of contraction.

Plyometrics for Athletes

For athletes, the ability to convert strength to speed in a very short time allows for athletic movements beyond what raw strength will allow. Thus, an athlete who has strong legs and can perform the freeweight squat with extremely heavy weights over a long duration may get less distance on a standing long jump or height on a vertical leap than a weaker athlete who is able to generate a smaller amount of force but in a shorter amount of time.

The plyometrically trained athlete may have a lower maximal force output, and thus may not squat as much, but his training allows him to shorten the amount of time required to reach his maximum force output, leading to more power from each contraction.

Plyometrics for Building a Stronger, More Powerful Chest

Now that you understand the premise of using plyometrics, I'm sure you can appreciate how these workouts can be of benefit to your training regime. The key, though, is to have already developed a fundamental strength training base so that your muscles are ready to work at this higher intensity. If you are a beginner to exercise, then you will want to hold off on the plyometrics for at least several months.

Let's have a look at a typical chest workout. Both Joe and Andy are bench pressing 200 lbs. However, Joe is able to move that 200 lbs much quicker (to the top) than Andy. This means that, although they may have the same strength, Joe definitely has more power.

So with the push-ups that are prescribed in this chest workout, realize that they won't necessarily make you stronger but they will enable you push your bodyweight (and eventually heavier weights as well) much more powerfully. At the end of the day, he is more powerful wins! Unless, you're a bodybuilder, in which case none of this even matters.

Plyometrics Chest Workout for Power and Size

If you're training for power, then fewer reps and more recovery time is necessary. Remember that power training is all about the nervous system, so fatigue should not be felt during any of the exercises. If you get tired, you move more slowly, and that's what your nervous system will learn. That's not what we want. You need to be fresh and 100% for each set!

Clap Push-ups x 8 reps x 2-3 sets :: 2-3 minutes rest between each set

Drop Push-ups x 8 reps x 2-3 sets :: 2-3 minutes rest between each set

Crossover Push-ups x 8 reps x 2-3 sets :: 2-3 minutes rest between each set

Staggered Jumping Push-ups x 8 reps x 2-3 sets :: 2-3 minutes rest between each set

However, if your goal is to build size in your chest and you really want to cause some positive muscle damage then you will want to each of these 4 exercises to failure with limited rest in between. Here's what your chest workout would look like:

Clap Push-ups x max reps x 2-3 sets :: < 1 minute rest between each set

Drop Push-ups x max reps x 2-3 sets :: < 1 minute rest between each set

Crossover Push-ups x max reps x 2-3 sets :: < 1 minute rest between each set

Staggered Jumping Push-ups x max reps x 2-3 sets :: < 1 minute rest between each set


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