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Push Up Variation - Alternating Medicine Ball Push Up

Need a little spice in your push up routine? Try this variation

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Updated May 06, 2012

Alternating Medicine Ball Push Up - start

Alternating Medicine Ball Push Up - start

photo (c) Blake Little / Getty Images
Performing a push up with one hand supported on a medicine ball is a great way to challenge your core stability as well as increase the range of motion during the push up movement. Passing the ball back and forth from right to left after each repetition, is a simple way to get the most out of this movement and great a killer upper body workout.

This exercise is a good progression after you've mastered the basic push up and are looking for a greater challenge. This exercise targets the chest, shoulders and arms, but balancing on an unstable medicine ball forces the core stabilizers to also get involved. The staggered hand positions allow a variety of movement patterns, and the chest and shoulders can be exercised in a variety of ways as you perform the movement. By varying your center of gravity, your hand position, and even the size of the medicine ball, you can find an unlimited number of ways to challenge your upper body.

Medicine balls are an excellent tool to add a need for balance into your exercise routine. It also allows for a greater range of motion for each repetition. This allows for greater stress to be placed on the muscles resulting in greater muscle growth.

The primary muscles targeted in suring this exercise include the deltoids, triceps, pecs and abs. Muscles that are also activated during the exercise include core stabilizers, rhomboids, erector spinae, rotator cuff, glutes and to a lesser degree, the quads.

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How to Do the Alternating Medicine Ball Push Up

    Preparation and Set Up
  1. Keep in mind that due to the added instability created by the medicine ball, you should focus on keeping your movements slow and controlled to reduce the chance of injury.
  2. Start by pacing one hand centered on the medicine with while kneeling on the floor.
  3. Straighten out your body and assume a basic push up position with your hands shoulder-width apart.
  4. Place one hand on the floor and one hand on the medicine ball.
  5. Keep your hands about shoulder-width apart as you begin this exercise. Over time you can vary your hand positions so they are farther out, closer in or staggered up and back.
  6. Carefully shift your weight forward with your shoulders positioned directly over your hands and the medicine ball.
  7. If needed you can rearrange your feet closer together for more difficulty or farther apart for more stability.
  8. Maintain a straight posture from your head to your toes and avoid any sagging or arching of your lower back.
  9. Contract your core and abdominal muscles to maintain balance as you complete your repetitions.
    Performing the Movement
  1. To start the downward movement, make sure you have your balance, and slowly bend your elbow so that your chest drop directly towards the floor.
  2. Keep your body rigid throughout the complete movement.
  3. Avoid letting your torso rotate or twist, which will easily happen if you aren't contracting your core.
  4. Contracting your glues and quads can also help you maintain good posture during to complete movement and will help prevent your hips to droop or arch up.
  5. Lower yourself as far as possible. Your chest should be at the level of the medicine ball.
  6. Try to keep your elbows slightly tucked in rather than jutting outward.
  7. Complete the movement upward until you return to the start position with elbows extended.
  8. At this point you have to choice to continue performing a specific number of reps, or you can roll the medicine ball to the opposition hand and repeat your repetitions by alternating hands between each repetition. The second version will challenge your stability to a greater degree because you will have to adjust your balance after each rep.

Adding the medicine ball push up to your routine is one way to build up your strength so you can do more push ups, but there are an endless number of other push up variations, such as the push up with a lat row, and stability ball push ups. Try them all for a complete, upper body workout.

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