This exercise provided courtesy of Billy Polson, founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body, which was voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006.
We think of push-ups as a classic, but here's a great variation on the old favorite that will increase the amount of weight you can lift in your traditional chest exercises. By using the stability ball, you use micro-changes in balance to strengthen your stabilizer muscles in your shoulders and consequently push your chest muscles further.
Place both hands on a stability ball and position the rest of your body like a plank. Your abdominals should be held in so that your stomach does not dip, and your back should be flat so that your buttocks do not come up. Make sure that you position yourself so that the ball does not roll (see Photo 1).
- Perform a push-up, lowering your chest until it touches the ball, and then press yourself back up. As you lower yourself, your elbows should come out to the side as you press down, and your shoulder blades should come together (see Photo 2).
- After you have finished 10 of the push-ups with your hands on the ball, reverse your position so that your toes are on the ball and your hands are on the floor. You will again be in the plank position, but with your head lower than your feet. Your shins and shoe laces will be on the ball, keeping your toes pointed so that you avoid perching on the ball with your toes (see Photo 3).
- Again perform a push-up, lowering your chest to the floor and pressing back up as you keep the ball stable under your legs (see Photo 4). Repeat for a total of 10 push-ups with your feet elevated.
For an easier version of this exercise, stand facing a wall and hold the ball against the wall as you do forward push-ups in a standing position. This will help you develop the control you will need for the floor version of the exercise.
For a more difficult version of this exercise, perform the first set of push-ups with your hands on the ball and your feet shoulder-width apart on top of a flat bench. This will crank up the intensity of the 'hands-on' pushup 10 fold.
About Billy Polson: Billy Polson is the founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body , which was voted the best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006. A competitive swimmer and triathlete in his own right, Polson has over 15 years of experience working as a coach and trainer, and was recently named by Men's Journal (December 2005) as one of the Top 100 Trainers in America.