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Researchers discovered that performing pushups as quickly as you can is one of the best ways to build explosive upper-body strength, according to The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. This pushup method was more effective than doing plyometric pushups (think: clapping between each pushup), and fall pushups, where you drop from a kneeling position and try to push your way back up to the starting position.
So why does this move trump other pushup techniques? Take a look at a vertical jump: “If you do a quick knee bend before jumping, you’ll always jump higher than if you don’t,” explains N. Travis Triplett, Ph.D., one of the study’s researchers. The same type of action occurs when you do pushups as fast as possible. Dropping your chest down toward the ground and then pausing for only a moment will enhance the motion of pushing yourself back up—and ultimately help you build more explosive strength, says Triplett.
There’s no reason not to include pushups in your workout routine. “You can train your core, pecs, front deltoids, and triceps at the same time,” says Bill Hartman, P.T., C.S.C.S. “Plus, they’re great for shoulder health.”
You won’t be able to maximize your strength if you don’t perform the pushup correctly, though. Here’s the right way to perform the move:
- Get down on all fours and place your hands on the floor so that they’re slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Straighten your legs with your weight on your toes. Your body should form a straight line from you head to your ankles.
- Brace your abs and keep them contracted throughout the entire exercise. This keeps your body rigid and doubles as core training.
- Next, lower your body until you chest nearly touches the floor, then push yourself back up to the starting position as quickly as possible. Don’t let your hips sag at any point during the movement.
To put up a great front, Hartman suggests doing 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions at maximum speed, resting 3 to 5 minutes between sets. Increase the number of sets and reps over time. Do this one to two times a week.
Want an entire sleeve-busting routine to follow? Redesign your upper body using this cutting-edge muscle plan.