Before I even begin to explain how to do this exercise you have to understand that this is a highly advanced exercise and you must be very competent not only with a normal press up, but also have a very high level of fitness and co-ordination. Now I have that off my chest I can get into the exercise.
What is it for?
Like the standard press up the Jumping Press Up works on the chest muscle (aka the pecs) and the triceps as the main muscles. The secondary muscles it will work are the core muscles which you can learn more about here and this is due to the support you have to give your posture to maintain your body in the straight body position.
Why do this exercise?
This exercise is special because it is found in group called plyometric exercises and it is these exercises that help to create power and not just pure strength. Power is very important not only for improving all over strength, but it is also essential for sports professionals and athletes. It poses the question: why have big muscles if you cannot use them correctly? Plyometric exercises help focus the strength in a movement creating a combination of speed and strength. For the chest this will be really beneficial for boxers, wrestlers, martial art experts and all other contact sports. To learn more on plyometric exercises click here.
Before starting make sure you have thoroughly read up on the technique of a standard press up as I will refer to this. Make sure you have a soft floor to cushion any mistake you may make and apart from that you will just need yourself.
To start with get yourself into the normal press up, in the raised position. Your arms should be straight but do not lock your elbows out (meaning have a very slight bend in your elbow). This is you start position.
Now lower yourself fairly quickly, as you are trying to spring load your arms and chest so moving slowly will not achieve this. As soon as your chest reaches it lowest position (about 3 inches off the ground) so that your elbows are at 90 degrees you must then push as hard and as fast as you can downwards through your hands. This will have one of two outcomes. One you may end up going through your own floor (very unlikely) and secondly and far more likely you will find your upper body travelling very fast upwards. Your hands should leave the ground momentarily and there should be a fraction of a second where only your feet are making contact with the ground and your upper body is air bound.
You’re half way there and I hope you are reading this before you attempt to try it as the landing is the most important part. Now you should be on your way down having made friends with gravity. It is very important that your hands make contact with the floor in the same position they left from – before your face reaches the ground. It is also essential that you have a bend in your elbow joint, otherwise it could be a very abrupt stop. As your hands make contact with the ground your elbows will naturally bend under the forces, use your triceps and chest muscles to slow the movement down so that you end up with your chest about 3 inches off the ground and your elbows are at 90 degrees. Well done, you have completed 1 repetition but remember exercise is about more than just one repetition, so immediately you reach that lowest position you must push yourself up and back into the air. It is a constant movement and so there should be no point where you have stopped moving. If you find that you are pausing before going back up then stop because I guarantee you will be doing it wrong. Just try and beat it the next time. Lastly do not forget to breathe during the exercise as otherwise you just won’t be able to do that many. Breathe out on the way up and in on the way down.
Keep your elbows at 90 degrees at the lowest point
Keep your core muscles tight
Stop if you lose technique
Land with a bend in your elbows
Keep the motion constant
Remember to breathe throughout the exercise
Don’t hold your breath
Don’t land with straight arms
Don’t go lower than 90 degrees at the elbows
Don’t let your body sag downwards at the waist
Don’t use your back muscles to aid with the upward movement
In your Program
Adding this exercise to your workout is great if you want to add power to your chest and pushing movements. However it is a very intense exercise and so I would recommend that you have it near the start of your workout so that your body has maximum energy to help. I would also recommend that you have a warm up and stretch before attempting this exercise. Stretch you chest and perform 20 press ups then rest for 2 minutes and then get started. Look to performing 3 sets of 10 with perfect technique to start with, increasing it by 1 repetition each time. Remember that you should still perform all your usual chest exercises after this one. It is an addition to your program not a replacement.
Making it harder
You’ve got to be kidding me! Make it harder? Well for those of you who have found this far too easy then make it harder by adding a clap with your hands when you are airborne. Be careful though as this can highly increase your chances of injury. So only do this if you are very very sure.
Make it easier
If you are being cautious, which you should be, then you may not want to throw yourself straight into this without taking it in stages firstly. Try leaning into a wall first in a press up position and push yourself away. The higher up your chest level is the easier it will be. So the next phase will be to use a high bench. Please make sure that the bench is very sturdy and has a large firm surface to land back onto. By placing objects in the way the chances of injury increase again.
And a warning…
As this is a hard exercise you must be prepared not to launch yourself straight into it without firstly being very competent at exercise. If you have high blood pressure, are overweight, have a bad back, are carrying an injury or have any other reason that a bout of very intense exercise could worsen or cause you damage then I suggest that you do not even try to attempt this exercise. If you are unsure then I would say that you shouldn’t attempt it; however check with your doctor first if you are going to try it any way. This exercise carries a high chance of injury so if you are even slightly unsure of your experience avoid it.
As you can probably tell this exercise is very dangerous if you are not well trained. Please be careful and sensible as an injury will keep you out of training for a long time. Good luck and please send in any questions.