November 20, 2009, Newsletter Issue #404: Stability Ball Push-Ups

Tip of the Week

Push-Ups in themselves are hard enough, but we're going to make them a little tougher/more fun.  By using a stability ball, most exercises become much more difficult.  This is due to the fact that a stability ball makes you 'stabilize' on it, making your muscles do much more work than they normally would without it.  This will give you more strength along with more balance and core strength.
For starters, grab a stability ball (bigger = easier, smaller = harder).  Position your hands about shoulder width apart on the ball, utilizing the entirety of your hand to hold onto the ball.  Do not just rest your hands upon the ball, but instead grip the stability ball.  Draw in your belly button slightly and lightly contract your gluteus muscles (butt). This helps keep pain from entering into the lower back area. Make sure feet are hip-width apart.  Slowly bend the elbows keeping them close to the body, leading with the chest and ensuring the abdomen stays steady and does not allow the lower back to slouch. Stop once arms are bent at 90 degrees while not allowing the head to shoot towards the floor and pause for a moment. While staying perfectly steady, push back up with arms still close to body and not arching the lower back or bringing the head forward.  As you do this my goodness the ball is going to shake, and that is normal.
A good beginner exercise with the stability ball is just to hold Push-Up position.  Not only will it exercise your arms, shoulders and chest, but it will work on your abdomen nicely.  Have someone hold the stability ball softly in place so that you can get a better hang of just the motion, and so that you don't fly off of it.  This exercise will greatly increase the strength of your chest and shoulders. 

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