Clap push-ups used to be seen as a way of showing off.
People who thought they were super strong and fit would add a plyometric element to their push-ups to make them as hard as possible.
How else could you show everyone how strong you are?
Today though, clap push-ups have become much more of a positive addition to muscle-building programs in gyms all over the world.
In this article, we compare regular push-ups vs clap push-ups to see which of these two exercises is best.
We look at the differences between them, which muscle groups are worked more with each one, as well as looking at some other information regarding the safety and difficulty aspects of each of these push-up variations.
What’s The Difference Between Push-Ups And Clap Push-Ups?
Regular push-ups and clap push-ups are similar in many ways.
The starting position is the same, the lowering phase is the same, the muscles being worked are pretty much the same, and a big part of the movement involved is the same too.
The big difference comes in the upward phase of clap push-ups. This is where these two push-up variations begin to look very different from each other.
Clap push-ups involve pushing your upper body up from the ground hard enough for you to be able to lift your hands off the floor and clap them together under your chest before placing them back on the floor and catching your upper body before your head, face, and chest hit the ground!
This explosive power element (plyometrics) makes clap push-ups very difficult to do.
It seems like a very odd and counter-intuitive thing to do, removing your hands from the floor during push-ups and then trying to clap leaving your upper body very vulnerable.
However, clap push-ups are very effective muscle-builders. So, if you can do them correctly, the relatively small difference between these two exercises can actually make quite a big difference to your training progress.
Are Clap Push-Ups Push-Ups Better For Chest?
To be able to push yourself up and off the floor allowing yourself to clap your hands during the push-up movement, you’ll need a lot of power and strength in the working muscles.
During regular push-ups, your chest is the muscle group that does most of the work. The same can be said for clap push-ups too as your chest has to activate to make the movement happen in the first place.
It’s not just your chest that pushes you up and off the ground, but it’s this muscle group where a lot of the power and force will come from.
During clap push-ups, your chest will be placed under a lot of stress due to the added pressure created by the plyometric element of the exercise.
As your chest will be under more stress, it will be put under highly-effective muscle-building conditions which can result in lots of progress being made toward your fitness goals.
As good as regular push-ups are for building your chest, clap push-ups might be able to offer a little more chest-building potential.
Are Clap Push-Ups Better For Triceps?
Your triceps come into play during both regular push-ups and clap push-ups.
When you think about the functions of your triceps, one of them is to assist in extending your arms at the shoulder joint while another is to extend your forearms at the elbow.
While there may be some elements of these movements during regular push-ups and clap push-ups, it’s not quite enough for your triceps to be the dominant muscle group in either exercise.
That being said, your triceps will have to deal with more stress during clap push-ups due to the added challenge of your upper body leaving the floor before being caught by the working muscles again to finish the movement.
This added stress will likely benefit the tricep-building part of your push-up routine.
Are Clap Push-Ups Better For Shoulders?
Clap push-ups do a good job of helping to improve shoulder stability.
While shoulder stability doesn’t necessarily mean muscle growth, it goes a long way in helping to keep your shoulders as healthy as possible and to minimize your risk of shoulder injuries.
As your shoulders are put under more stress during clap push-ups compared to regular push-ups, your shoulders will likely benefit more from the stabilizing benefits as well as the muscle development benefits too.
Shoulder instability can cause shoulder pain, discomfort, injury, and having to stop training, so increasing the stability of your shoulders should be something seen as a positive for your training program.
Are Clap Push-Ups Harder?
Yes, clap push-ups are quite a bit more challenging to do than regular push-ups.
When you do regular push-ups, you’re effectively using the strength you have built up in your upper body muscles to perform the movement of lifting your body up and down.
However, when you do clap push-ups, you need to use explosive power which can be very different from regular muscular strength.
Unless you’re used to doing plyometric work, clap push-ups will be extremely difficult for you to do.
They’re really only suitable for experienced gym-goers who have already built up a good foundation of power and strength in the muscles needed for push-ups, so they usually won’t be suitable for beginners.
Are Clap Push-Ups Safer?
Regular push-ups are a relatively safe exercise to perform.
Adding an explosive movement to push-ups to form clap push-ups doesn’t make the exercise dangerous, but it certainly raises the risk associated with doing it.
When you think that your upper body will be off the ground and you’ll be relying on your ability to clap your hands and get them back into a position to stop your upper body from hitting the floor, it makes sense that clap push-ups could be seen as being less safe than regular push-ups.
Clap Push-Ups vs Regular: Which Is Best?
When it comes to choosing which one of these push-up variations is best, you’ll need to take several things into consideration.
If you want an exercise that’s extremely challenging, helps build and develop power and explosive strength in the working muscles while still building muscle size too, but comes with a slightly greater risk factor, then clap push-ups could be best for you.
However, if you’re looking for an exercise that minimizes your injury risk while still doing a great job of building muscle size and strength, then regular push-ups will likely be the better choice for you.
Your final decision could also come down to whether or not you have the strength, overall fitness, and relative experience to do clap push-ups in the first place.
If you don’t, then clap push-ups might not even be an option for you in your current state.
Hope this helped!
I’ve been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I’ve gained 30 pounds of muscle, written hundreds of articles, and reviewed dozens of fitness supplements. As for my educational background, I’m a currently studying for my Active IQ Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training.