Brad Johnson's Bodyweight Training

Crush Grip Hover Planks

By Brad Johnson

Author of Bodyweight Exercises for Extraordinary Strength

Crush Grip Hover Planks

In the first article that I wrote for the IronMind website, I described how to work your crushing grip while performing pull-ups. This month, I will demonstrate an exercise that works your crushing grip while performing a variation of the push-up. This exercise will also work your upper body and core. You will need a pair of one to three-pound hex dumbbells for each hand. If you do not have them, they are relatively cheap or you can substitute dowels, PVC, or metal pipes for the dumbbells. I prefer the dumbbells because they simulate the handles of the grippers better.

Exercise Performance

Place two same-sized dumbbells together on their ends (one in front of the other) with the sides of the dumbbells touching each other. Now do the same thing with the other pair of dumbbells placed approximately shoulder distance from the first pair. Get down on your knees and grasp one pair with your right hand and the other pair with your left hand. Your grip on the dumbbells will be identical to how you hold a gripper. Now take a position on the floor where your forearms are parallel to each other with your elbows resting on the floor. Your elbows should be directly underneath your shoulders. Adjust the rest of your body so that you are in a plank position with your elbows still resting on the floor. Now press up slightly so that your elbows come off the floor. Your elbows should be about the same height as the bottom of your hands and your forearms should be parallel to the floor.

You will need to tighly grip the pairs of dumbbells so that your hands do not slip down the handles. Additionally, you will need to press the dumbbells hard into the floor so that they do not fall over.  This will work the muscles of your upper body with an emphasis on your triceps.  Tighten your abs as if you are bracing to take a punch.  Tense your glutes to help protect your back.  Concentrate on generating as much tension as possible. Gradually increase the amount of time that you hold this position.  You can also do Crush Grip Push-ups, but it is very hard to lock out your elbows at the top of the push-up because your wrists are placed in an awkward position.  


The percentage of your bodyweight that you are supporting with this exercise can be manipulated by varying the incline.  If you are not currently able to perform the exercise as described above, place the dumbbells on a stair step, chair, or picnic table, for example, with your feet on the floor.  The greater the incline, the smaller the percentage of your bodyweight that you will be supporting.  Gradually reduce the incline by resting the dumbbells on progressively lower objects until you can hold the position on the floor.  If holding the crush grip plank on the floor becomes too easy, you can gradually shift more weight to one of your arms.  If you do this, make sure that you do another set with more weight shifted to the opposite arm.  You could also add more resistance by elevating your feet on a step, bench, or chair with the dumbbells on the floor.  I generally move on to a more difficult progression when I can hold the current position for 30 seconds.

For a copy of Brad Johnson's book Bodyweight Exercises for Extraordinary Strength, please visit our on-line store.

You'll find more bodyweight training articles by Brad Johnson in MILO: A Journal for Serious Strength Athletes.