Pushups are a great exercise for working the upper arms, abs, shoulders, and chest. Throwing a medicine ball into the mix can increase the intensity of the exercise and provide something new for your workout routine. If you’ve done pushups without a medicine ball, you already know most of what you need to know to perform a medicine ball pushup. Using your arms, simply push up and off the ground with one hand (or both) on the ball. Like regular pushups, there are many variations on the medicine ball pushup.
Method One of Three:
Performing an Alternating Arm Medicine Ball Pushup
1Get into position. Pushup position requires you to rest your palms on the floor shoulder width apart, and on a line with your neck. Place your feet together and bend your toes so that they are pushing you forward. Keep your back and legs stiff and straight. Push up from the floor so that your arms are perfectly perpendicular to the ground.
- It’s best to do pushups on a gym mat or carpeted area.
2Place one hand on the medicine ball. You can use your left or right hand, since you’ll be alternating the hand you have on the ball as you continue the exercise. The ball should be located just to the outside of, or just beneath, the shoulder of whatever hand you choose to lay on the ball.
- For instance, if you’re placing your right hand on the ball, the ball should be located just to the right of your right shoulder. If placing your left hand on the ball, it should be located just to the left of your left shoulder.
- The arm corresponding to the hand you have on the ball will be exercised through a larger range of motion than your other arm.
3Push up and onto the ball. The arm that is not touching the ball should be at about a 90˚ angle. Lift the hand of that arm up and across your body to rest on the ball. Move slowly to ensure the ball doesn’t roll suddenly. You will probably need to adjust the position of the hand that is already on the ball in order to make room for your other hand.
- As you bring the hand that is not on the ball up and across your body, shift the position of the hand that is on the ball so that it rests just to the side of center.
- When both hands are on the ball, your thumbs should be on the topmost spot and your fingers should be splayed out around the sides of the ball.
4Bring the other hand down. Now, leaning both hands on the medicine ball, you need to move the opposite hand (the one that was on the ball to begin with) down to the mat, while keeping the other hand balanced on the ball. For instance, assume you started with your right hand on the ball, and have moved your left hand over to the ball, and are now leaning against the ball with both arms extended. Your next move is to carefully take your right hand off the ball and shift your left hand to the top-center of the ball to maintain balance.
5Lower yourself down and repeat. Using the prior example -- moving your left hand onto the ball, then moving your right hand off the ball -- place your right hand about shoulder width away from the ball. Your position should mirror the position you were in when your left hand was on the mat and the right hand was on the ball.
- Gently lower yourself down so that your right arm bends at about a 90˚ angle.
- Repeat for as many reps as you like.
Method Two of Three:
Trying Simple Variations
1Try a feet-elevated medicine ball pushup. A pushup of this type will strengthen your upper body. Place your legs on a bench. Instead of keeping your feet on the ground, hook your feet across a low (about 12-15’’ high) bench. Perform the pushup with the medicine ball as you normally would. This will make your arms work harder and increase the intensity of the exercise.
2Try a double-handed medicine ball pushup. This is a simple variation of the alternating arm medicine ball pushup. To perform this variation, simply place both hands on the medicine ball in the same way you would when performing an alternating medicine ball pushup. Instead of moving from one hand to the other, however, simply keep both hands on the sides of the ball. Lower yourself toward the ball until your chest touches it, pause, then push yourself back up.
- An alternative version of this pushup is the close grip pushup. The procedure is the same as above, except you place your hands at the top-center of the ball. Your left thumb and right thumb should touch, as should your right index finger and left index finger.
3Try a two-ball pushup. This technique requires you to place one medicine ball under each hand. It is basically a regular pushup with a medicine ball beneath either hand. Place the medicine balls approximately shoulder width apart. Keep your legs straight and toes bent. Your back, neck, and legs should form a single straight line. Push yourself up off the medicine balls, and lower yourself until your chest is below the top of the balls.
4Increase your reps. While you might start out doing 10-12 pushups each day, as you gain strength, you should challenge yourself by doing more pushups. After one week of 10-12 daily pushups, try doing 12-14 daily pushups. The week after, level up up to 14-16 pushups, and so on.
- The number of pushups that’s right for you depends on your age, sex, and personal strength. Generally, women will not be able to do as many pushups as men, and older adults (over 30 years of age) will be less capable of doing pushups than younger people.
- Experiment with your pushup regimen to find the right number of sets and reps for you.
5Try a bent-knee pushup if you’re a beginner. To make this exercise less challenging, execute a pushup of any kind using a medicine ball, but keep your knees on the ground. Keep your torso and neck in line as you push up and lower yourself down. Be careful not to arch your back if you choose to do a pushup this way.
- This variation will not help you build strength as quickly as standard pushups, but could help you get used to the pushup action.
- Look for other ways to build upper body strength when performing pushups. For instance, try lifting dumbbells or performing pull-ups.
Method Three of Three:
Experimenting With Advanced Variations
1Try a single-arm medicine ball pushup. A single-arm medicine ball pushup requires a slightly different approach than a traditional pushup. Instead of putting your feet straight out behind you, spread them in a wide “V” to increase your balance. Place one hand on the top-center of the medicine ball and put your other hand behind you, at the small of your back. Lower yourself until your chest is parallel with the top of the ball. Push back up, being careful to maintain your balance on the ball.
- Repeat for as many reps as you’d like, then switch arms and perform and equal number of pushups with your opposite arm.
- This exercise is excellent for building the triceps.
2Try a single-leg medicine ball pushup. As the name implies, this type of pushup calls for you to lift one leg up while performing the medicine ball pushup. Perform any kind of medicine ball pushup as you normally would, but lift your back foot off the ground behind you. You could keep the leg straight out or bend at the knee and bring your foot toward your back. Whatever you choose, keep one foot off the ground.
- If you’re looking for serious difficulty, try a single-legged single-arm pushup with the medicine ball.
3Try a T-pushup. An alternate version of the double-handed medicine ball pushup is the T-pushup. In this version, you start with your feet closer together, as you would in a regular pushup position. Place both hands on the medicine ball with your thumbs at the top-center. Push off, and once you’re at the top of your pushup, turn your body toward the left or right and lift the corresponding hand straight up and away from you. Keep the other hand on the medicine ball.
- For instance, if you wanted to turn toward the right, slowly shift your weight to your left hand, turn your body toward the right, balancing on your left ankle. Keep your legs and body in a straight line.
- Push your right hand straight up. Hold the position for three to five seconds, then return the raised hand to the ball and resume the starting position.
- Take care to keep your unextended hand balanced on top of the ball.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- If you would like to improve the stability of the ball, roll a towel up lengthwise and wrap it around the base of the ball. This will prevent the ball from rolling around too much and help you get used to it as a support.
- The benefits of these exercises are increased strength and flexibility in your upper arms, pecs, abs, and shoulders.