Tip: The Deficit Plyo Push-Up

Build your pecs with this power move.


Bodyweight exercises are sometimes overlooked due to their lack of loading, but it doesn't take much to increase the difficultly. Just ask a gymnast how effective bodyweight movements are for strength and muscle growth.

With a bit of creativity, the push-up can be turned into an incredible muscle builder. That's where the deficit plyometric push-up comes in.

This variation gives you the benefits of the extra range of motion for the pecs and explosive pushing power. (Not to mention, they look pretty cool.)

There are three prerequisites for this exercise:

  1. A solid regular push-up.
  2. A good deficit push-up.
  3. The ability to do a plyo push-up.

Don't have all three? Don't worry about trying the full variation – you might end up hurting yourself. Build up the strength to do each one individually first.

Once you have multiple clean push-up reps down (comfortable sets of 10) you can start generating a bit of force from the bottom position and try getting your hands to leave the ground at the top of the rep. If you can gain good height and you're feeling confident, then attempt some clapping push-ups.

In the same way, you can also build up to the deficit push-up. Use a bumper plate or a small step and do push-ups with one or both hands elevated. Your aim is to still get your chest to touch the floor to maximize the range of motion.

To start building up to the full variation, practice alternating sides in your deficit. Do a push-up with your inside hand on the plate, then walk your hands over to the other side and do another push-up with your other hand on the plate.

If that's too easy, try hopping your hand up to the plate, but then stepping off the other side. Eventually you can try hopping all the way over!

Tom Morrison is a British weightlifting coach, martial artist, and CrossFit trainer and competitor. Tom works with athletes on prerequisite movement capabilities for optimal strength, performance, and reduced risk of injury.  Follow Tom Morrison on Facebook