25 October, 2019

Most traditional plyometric exercises involve some form of jumping, with box jumps, broad jumps, depth jumps and lunge jumps all springing to mind. These lower body plyometric exercises are often incorporated into athlete training programs and performed by those looking to increase their power and explosiveness. Not as common, and perhaps underutilised, are upper body plyometric exercises. Implementing upper body plyometrics to a program is a great way to build and improve explosive power in the arms, back, chest and shoulders, as well as providing some variety to regular strength training and adding intensity to the workout.

Upper body plyometric exercises often involve throwing, passing and catching movements, most commonly using a medicine ball or similar. Let’s take a look at some of these exercises and how to perform each one correctly:


Chest Pass:

The medicine ball chest pass is a great exercise for those new to upper body plyometrics. To perform this exercise, you can either partner up with someone, or find a solid wall that can take the impact.

Teaching Points –

  • To start, get into a comfortable, upright stance with feet shoulder-width apart; face partner approximately 3m away. Raise the medicine ball to chest level, with elbows flexed
  • Begin by moving the arms slightly backwards before the throw. Using both arms, throw the ball to your partner by extending the elbows

The weight of the ball can be increased to progress the intensity of the exercise.

Chest Pass


Overhead Throw:

The two-hand overhead throw works the muscles that extend your shoulder joints. This movement works many of the muscles that play a role in the overhead movements involved in sports, including basketball, baseball, swimming, tennis and volleyball.

Teaching Points –

  • Stand with one foot in front (staggered stance) with knees slightly bent
  • Pull the medicine ball back behind your head and forcefully throw the ball forward as far as possible into the wall
  • Catch the ball on the bounce from the wall and repeat

Overhead Throw


Plyo Push-Up:

Plyometric pushups are an advanced exercise that work the chest, triceps, abs, and shoulders. This exercise is best suited for individuals with well-developed upper-body strength.

Teaching Points –

  • Start in a push-up position with hands underneath shoulders, a neutral spine, and feet shoulder-width apart
  • Perform a countermovement by lowering chest to the floor, and then explosively push off the floor, allowing the hands to lift off the ground. Clap the hands together in mid-air
  • Land back in the starting push-up position, and immediately complete the next repetition

The exercise can be made slightly easier by pushing off the floor but not clapping the hands together, or made harder by clapping more than once.

Plyo Pushup


Depth Push-Up:

Depth push-ups are another high intensity, advanced exercise that will seriously test your upper body strength. You will need either some plyo boxes (15-30cm) or weight plates to perform this exercise.

Teaching Points –

  • Place both hands onto the plyometric boxes or weight plates and get into a comfortable push-up position, with hands underneath shoulders and a neutral spine
  • Quickly remove hands from the plyometric boxes or weight plates and drop down. Land on the floor with hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart and elbows slightly flexed. Allow chest to almost touch the floor
  • Immediately and explosively push off the floor by fully extending the elbows. Quickly place hands back onto the plyometric box or weight plates, and repeat the exercise

To progress this exercise, you can try placing your feet on a box to create an incline push up, as is pictured below.

Depth Push up


Medicine Ball Slams:

Medicine ball slams are a great exercise to enhance all round power and strength.

Teaching Points –

  • Stand with feet parallel, shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent
  • Pull medicine ball back behind head and forcefully throw the ball down on the ground as hard as possible
  • Catch the ball on the bounce from the ground and repeat

Med Ball Slam


Sit-Up and Pass:

This exercise is a great way to get your core involved and can be a fun exercise to do with a partner or in a group training setting.

Teaching Points –

  • Sit on the ground with the trunk at an approximate 45º angle. Partner should be in front with the medicine ball.
  • Partner throws the ball into your outstretched hands
  • Once partner throws the ball, catch it using both hands, allowing minimal trunk extension, and immediately throw it back

Sit Up Pass


Medicine Ball Drop:

The lying medicine ball power drop will build explosive strength in the chest, core and shoulders. A partner is required to perform this exercise, as you will need someone to catch the ball.

Teaching Points –

  • Lie on the ground with your arms extended up, knees bent and feet on the floor. Have a partner stand above you at your head holding a medicine ball
  • Get your partner to drop a medicine ball towards your chest. Catch the ball and immediately throw it back to your partner

The intensity of this exercise can be increased by increasing the weight of the ball, or having your partner stand on a box.

Med Ball Drop





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