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How do you increase explosive power in your clap push-ups? The goal isn't to do more of them or to build larger chest / arm muscles, but to launch oneself higher off the ground.

I'm not sure if fitness.stackexchange.com is the right place for this kind of question. Please let me know if I should move this. –  Elliott Jul 28 '11 at 20:32
This is a very good question for this site. Keep them coming, if you've got more like it! –  Greg Jul 29 '11 at 15:07

2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

There are 4 types of muscular development:

  • strength - exerting maximum possible force
  • power - exerting maximum possible force over the shortest duration possible
  • mass - increasing the size of the muscle
  • endurance - ability of cardiovascular system to supply oxygen to muscle


Developing strength won't help the clap push-up, because you usually want to do more than one push up. Building mass doesn't help you get height on the push-up because the more massive you are, the more force gravity pushes you down (force = mass * gravity).


You will need to develop cardiovascular endurance to sustain you through a set of push-ups. The push up is a compound exercise, involving pecs, triceps, anterior deltoids, and core stability, which is a lot of muscles that are gasping for oxygen. To gain explosive power of the clap push-up, you obviously want to develop your power. Power training will propel you to new heights, literally.

The following chart will show you how to build endurance and power. Since push-ups are dependent on body weight, you won't be able to easily tune the load and rep range into the endurance and power zone. So I recommend using free weights for total control. You can do dumbbell bench presses, barbell bench presses, and dumbbell flies to develop chest power and endurance. Preferably, do these exercises on a flat bench to mimic the position of a clap push-up. However, the part of the clap push-up before your hands leave the ground does slightly resemble a decline press, so incorporate declines as well.

training goal table
Source: Everything You Know About Fitness is a Lie

+1 Good breakdown, and like the chart in particular. Especially the 8 day week for endurance. ;-) –  Greg Jul 29 '11 at 15:05
How do you read the Load and Speed per rep? I'm thinking that if my max is 250lbs I should be doing 150lbs - 200lbs (Mass column) for load? What about speed? Does this chart apply to all weight training? –  DustinDavis Jul 29 '11 at 22:46
Also, is it possible to focus on two columns at the same time? How would that work, week 1 would be Mass and week 2 would be Strength? Edit: Nevermind, I just needed to read the link you provided. –  DustinDavis Jul 29 '11 at 22:47
This is amazing; not only will this help with the clap push up, it will also help with increasing vertical jump height. Thank you! –  Elliott Jul 30 '11 at 6:11

Ross Enamait provides a very good video tutorial on the triple clap pushup - something I have yet to achieve.

A great plyometric exercise that I'm looking into to help with the bottom part of the bench press.

Can you explain some of the steps here from that video? –  Matt Chan Dec 11 '12 at 13:33

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