This exercise provided courtesy of Billy Polson, founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006.
Push-ups aren't just a convenient do-anywhere exercise; they're also one of the best chest exercises you can do. Adding the challenge of doing them with your hands balancing on dumbbells or medicine balls makes them significantly tougher, further increasing your pectoral challenge. The addition of alternate lockouts at the top of each push-up takes that balance work to the max.
Place two flat-sided dumbbells or medicine balls on the floor. Use a heavy weight so that they will be steady and still throughout the entire exercise. For dumbbells, use 40-pound weights minimum and position them so that they are standing on one end. Position yourself on the floor in a prone position (face down) with your legs in a wide-legged stance and extended behind you and your arms slightly more than shoulder-width apart, with your hands palming the top of the dumbbells or medicine balls. Your arms should be straight but without locked elbows. If you're finding it too hard to balance, widen your leg stance further. Keep your hips, abs, and core engaged and your spine neutral with no arch. The dumbbells are easier than the medicine balls, so start with dumbbells and eventually work your way up to the medicine balls pictured here (see Photo 1).
- From the starting position, slowly bend your arms and descend toward the floor. Keep your neck in line with your spine throughout the movement; do not jut your chin out towards the floor at the bottom of the movement. Stop when your elbows are at a 90-degree angle (see Photos 2).
- Reverse position and push back up to the starting position. Do not lock your elbows at the top of the movement (see Photo 3).
- When you are back in plank position, contract your abs as you slowly and deliberately raise your right arm up so that it is parallel to your side, keeping your elbow straight (see Photo 4).
- Lower the right arm back to the dumbbell or medicine ball and immediately go down into your next push-up (see Photo 5).
- At the top of your next push-up, contract your abs as you slowly and deliberately raise your left arm up so that it is parallel to your side, keeping your elbow straight.
- Do as many push-ups as you can, alternating arms for the lockout at the top.
If you find it too challenging to balance on the dumbbells or medicine balls, do the same push-ups but with your palms on the floor and your feet about shoulder-width apart.
About Billy Polson: Billy Polson is the founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, 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 Magazine (December 2005) as one of the Top 100 Trainers in America.