Tutorial: Power Plank Push-Ups
The Power Plank Push-Ups are a fun variation on the push-up that adds a little bounce in your step, challenges your shoulder stabilization, and assists in developing upper body stamina. It is also killer for building pectoral fullness and lift.
As mentioned above, this exercise challenges your stabilizers, so it is absolutely imperative that you warm up your rotators very well before performing it. One way to do this involves only two minutes of your time and a dumbell. While standing with your feet hip width apart, leaning slightly forward with your abs engaged, you can stretch your shoulders out by holding onto the bulb of a 5-10 lb dumbell while keeping your arm lax and loose and letting it “rotate” in a slow circular pattern both clockwise and counterclockwise for about a minute on each arm. This should loosen your rotators up nicely and have you well prepared for this exercise; just make sure you stay within YOUR range of motion.
A set is going back and forth as many times as you are able to with proper form, while adding one additional bounce each time you go to the right. To be clear; step once to the right while doing one bounce, then once to the left, doing one bounce. Then two bounces to the right, then two bounces to left, etc.
If you are a pro at push-ups, consider doing a rhombus set, working from one bounce to a reasonable limit in the pattern described above, then go in reverse, working your way back to one.
Another “hard-core” version is to do any variety of the Power Plank Push-Ups on your fists. Note: Be very wary of your wrists should you choose to do this variation.
Finally, for an even greater challenge, consider elevating your feet by placing them on an aerobic step, a bench, etc. Do not allow your lower back to droop down when your feet are elevated; this a common situation for people this position, and is alleveated by focusing on engaging your abs.
If you try any of these advanced methods, please let me know about it in the comments below, or post video responses on YouTube. It will make me so happy to see them!
Aside from the more advanced variations listed above, there are beginner and intermediate variations on this exercise as well, in the “make it work for you” section below.
Much like most exercises involving push-ups, little to no equipment is needed. I used a yoga mat, but so long as your hands and feet are on a surface with a good grip, no equipment other than your body is needed. If you are attempting some of the more advanced variations mentioned above, you may want a set of aerobic steps.
Proper Technique, Posture and Tips
- Start in a plank position, keeping your hands and feet completely together. All fingertips should be pointing straight forward.
- Make sure your weight is forward over your hands and not too much towards your feet throughout this exercise.
- Pull your lats and shoulder blades downward towards your waist, while focusing on pulling your abs in.
- Step out and lower your body down to the floor at the same time. As your chest lowers to the floor,be aware not to roll your elbows forward. Instead, have the elbows pointed towards the back corners.
- If you feel pressure in your shoulders, you may have shifted your body weight towards your feet, so shift back onto your hands until the pressure is gone.
- Shoulder girdle stabilization is paramount; it is not worth it to sacrifice good form by pushing the motion beyond reason. Always stay in control of your range of motion.
- After the appropriate number of bounces, step in together and up at the same time with your hands and feet. Think of taking a longer “step” with your hands than with your feet as you do this.
- Return to the neutral plank position you started in, then do the alternate side. Be sure to keep your weight over your hands; there is a tendency to shift weight towards the feet at this point.
Make it Work for You
While not as challenging as The Scorpion Push-Ups, it presents its difficulty in a different fashion and can be a surprising challenge, even to a seasoned veteran of the gym. Should you want to work your way towards doing this exercise like a pro, there are some variations below that will assist you on the path towards becoming Summer-Fit.
Intermediate: Perform the exercise exactly as described above; however, when you reach the part where your chest is lowered to the floor, do not bounce; simply continue back into the plank position, and repeat. As you feel more confident, slowly add ONE bounce per repetition for each full set. Then two per rep per set, etc.
You can also try doing the full Power Plank Push-Ups with your hands elevated on either a bench, sturdy couch or chair, and work yourself lower towards the floor. It is super-important that the object you are putting your hands on will not move during the course of this exercise. Test it a bit first before beginning.
Beginner: Try it on a wall or on your knees on the floor(keep some padding like a yoga mat under your knees), then follow the first set of Intermediate instructions.Over time, step further and further away from the wall, continuing to perform the intermediate version of the exercise at the more challenging angle. Eventually substitute the wall for a sturdy couch, chair or weight bench.
Doing these versions of the exercise still provide great results... and will build a strong foundation that will safely bring you towards being able to perform the full Power Plank Push-Ups!
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Go to my Facebook Page, or in the comments below, and tell me how many bounces you made it to!