The clapping push-up is a plyometric exercise that builds explosive power in the upper body. It targets fast-twitch muscles, which are responsible for producing short bursts of power. You have to do the exercise as explosively as you can in order to recruit the fast-twitch fibers and increase power. Athletes that use their upper body, such as baseball and volleyball players, can use clapping push-ups to help improve sport performance.
Get into position for the clapping push-up by placing your hands on the floor so that they're slightly wider than your shoulders. Your fingers should point directly ahead. Lift your body up off the floor so that your body weight is on your hands and feet. Contract your abdominals and glutes so that your torso and thighs are held in a straight line. From this position, lower your body towards the floor by bending your elbows. Once your elbows are bent to about 90 degrees, explosively extend your arms so you push yourself up high enough that your hands leave the floor. While your upper body is in the air, clap your hands. As soon as your hands land back on the floor, lower into the next repetition and repeat.
Clapping push-ups build explosive power in your pectoralis major, the largest muscle in your chest; your deltoids, the major muscles in your shoulders; and the triceps, the muscles in the back of your arms. Strengthening these muscles helps basketball players throw chest passes with greater force. Baseball players are able to improve their throwing distance and speed. Volleyball athletes can strike the ball with more power, making their hits more difficult to defend. And boxers improve their speed and the force of their punches.
If you find it too difficult to perform the clapping push-up, you can start by performing the exercise from the knees instead of the feet. You can build up to the clapping push-up by doing one-arm plyo push-ups on a medicine ball. The one-arm plyo push-up involves doing the same action as the clapping push-up while keeping one hand on a small medicine ball so only your free hand leaves the ground. Your free hand doesn't actually clap, since your other hand is on the ball, but it allows you to build up strength. Repeat up to 10 plyo push-ups if you can and then repeat using your other arm.
If you've mastered the clapping push-up and are looking to increase the difficulty of the exercise, try clapping multiple times when your hands lift off the ground. You can also perform the alternating plyo push-up with a medicine ball. Do the first repetition with the ball under one hand, but while you're in the air, roll the ball to your other hand and let that hand land atop the ball. Roll the ball from one hand to the other each time you explode up and lift your hand off the ground.