Oct 26, 2020
NSCA’s Depth-Drop Push-Ups from Developing Power

Push-ups are one of the most popular exercises among fitness nuts and top-notch athletes. The movement is highly effective for improving upper body pushing strength and endurance and can be done with no equipment.

There are plenty of regressions, progressions, and variations to pick from, making push-ups useful for athletes of all types. From bodyweight push-ups to loaded isometric push-ups, there are also various ways to load and challenge the movement.

Photo: Ulf Liljankoski / Creative Commons

A recent post from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) highlights one variation for athletes looking to step up their workouts with high-degree push-up variation. Referencing an excerpt from the book Developing Power, published by Human Kinetics, the article gives insights into the depth-drop push-up — an advanced variation of the movement.

The depth-drop push-up accentuates the stretch-shortening cycle. More advanced athletes looking to further challenge and develop their plyometric ability should try this, using open hands or closed fists, depending on shoulder girdle stability.

Below is an excerpt from Developing Power that the NSCA shared on the advanced push-up variation.


  1. Begin at the bottom of the push-up position with hands on raised platforms (of equal height) that are placed on either side of the shoulders. Generally, the height of the blocks, platforms, or sometimes bumper plates used is between two and six inches (5 – 15 cm).
  2. Begin the movement by extending the arms.
  3. Move the hands off the platform and onto the floor.
  4. Explosively extend the arms so that the hands leave the ground and land back on the platform.

» ALSO SEE: 10 Stretches to Help Relieve Lower Back Pain

The platform height varies depending on the intensity desired, experience, and the length of the athlete’s arms. Higher platforms will result in greater eccentric loading and are more appropriate for experienced athletes.


  • Begin at the bottom position of the push-up, with hands on top of a medicine ball (in line with the upper chest) and the arms extended.
  • Move the hands from the ball to the floor (approximately shoulder-width apart) and perform a push-up to the level of the ball.
  • Explosively extend the arms so that the hands leave the ground and land back on the medicine ball.
  • Medicine ball height varies depending on the intensity desired, experience, and arm length of the athlete.

For more tips from the NSCA on building strength and power, view their articles here

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