The medicine ball is one of the most versatile tools available for serious fitness buffs. Use it to take your crunches to the next level, or to incorporate ab twists with lunges. Use the ball to add weight to body weight exercises when they get too easy. Use the ball to improve grip and provide an unmatched challenge for tried and true exercises like the push-up.
Medicine Ball Push-Ups
Use the medicine ball to increase strength even though you have the ball on the ground. Instead of strengthening your upper body with exercises like throws or wood choppers, leave the ball stationary to begin. Begin with one ball on the floor under your right hand. Place the left hand on the floor under your left shoulder, a little farther than shoulder-width apart. Complete 5-8 slow push-ups. The off-center press will put more emphasis on your left arm and chest, so you can’t let your right side take over. Complete another 5-8 push-ups with the ball under the left hand.
Make it Harder
Practice the medicine ball push-up for 3 weeks, 3 times per week, and you’ll find that you chest, triceps and back begin to get stronger. As you get better, begin switching hands on the ball for each rep. Place feet wide, with the ball under your shouldered, but even with the center of your legs and press down. As you push up, throw your body upwards and switch the ball to the other hand, repeating the repetition on the other side. Repeat as many as you can, shooting for 8 reps per set to start, and working up to a higher rep range. Complete as many throws as you can, then continue with the standard medicine ball push-up to reach the height of the rep range (16 total on both sides).
Kneel to Push Ups
These tough push-ups not only work your chest, triceps and back, but incorporate your hamstrings as well. Get down on your knees, hip-width apart. Keep hips, back and shoulders in line, and engage your hamstrings–the back of your thighs–as you lower into a kneeling push-up position. Lower your body and pause, then thrust up, pushing your body back to the starting position. Maintain that straight line between hips and shoulders, leading with your shoulder blades as you rise up. Imagine a string attached to your spine, high between your shoulders, and flex your hamstrings to help you rise. Complete as many as you can, aiming for 5-8 reps.
For the first few weeks of performing the exercise, keep in mind that form is the most important thing. After completing as many reps as possible with perfect form, complete only the drop and push up. Then stretch back, backside resting on your feet, arms outstretched in front of you. Then rise to the starting (kneeling) position and complete the set with only the drop and push up.