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Ground Reaction Force Patterns in Plyometric Push-Ups

Koch, Jenna; Riemann, Bryan L.; Davies, George J.

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: August 2012 - Volume 26 - Issue 8 - p 2220–2227
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318239f867
Original Research

Abstract: Koch, J, Riemann, BL, and Davies, GJ. Ground reaction force patterns in plyometric push-ups. J Strength Cond Res 26(8): 2220–2227, 2012—Compared with lower extremity plyometrics, data concerning the loads and intensity associated with upper extremity plyometrics are limited. The purpose of this study was to compare vertical ground reaction force (vGRF) characteristics between the clap push-up and box drop push-ups from 3.8 cm (BD1), 7.6 cm (BD2), and 11.4 cm (BD3) heights and limbs (dominant, nondominant). Twenty-two healthy active male subjects (age 25.9 ± 1.3 years, height 1.8 ± 0.08 m, mass 87.6 ± 12 kg) performed 4 repetitions of each push-up variation in a random order. Four dependent variables, peak vGRF, time-to-peak vGRF, loading rate (LR), and propulsion rate (PR) were calculated for each extremity. Statistical analysis consisted of separate limb by variation repeated measures analysis of variance. In addition, ground contact time (GCT) was statistically compared between variations. The GCT for the clap push-up (p = 0.033) was significantly less than that for BD1 and BD2. No significant differences were revealed for time-to-peak vGRF (p = 0.717). Peak vGRF was significant between dominant and nondominant limbs (p = 0.045). Post hoc analysis of a significant limb by variation interaction in LR (p < 0.001) revealed the dominant limb to be significantly greater than the nondominant one in all 4 push-up variations. Furthermore, for both limbs, the clap LR was significantly greater than BD1, BD2, and BD3. The clap PR was significantly greater than BD1, BD2, and BD3. These data add rationale for determining upper extremity plyometric progression. The peak vGRFs are similar, and altering the box height did not affect peak vGRF. In contrast, the clap demonstrated the highest LR and PR suggesting that it may be a more powerful exercise than BD1, BD2, and BD3. The higher LR (Clap and BD3) for the dominant extremity illustrates bilateral disparity in the rate of eccentric loading.

Biodynamics and Human Performance Center, Department of Health Sciences, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, Georgia

Address correspondence to Bryan L. Riemann,

© 2012 National Strength and Conditioning Association