Your pushup routine might be getting a little stale — so add a ball to put some bounce back into your chest day.
Using a Swiss ball (or exercise ball) can bring an extra element to pushups, giving you an uneven surface to crank up the difficulty. You won’t literally be bouncing here — but you’ll have to focus on maintaining your balance on the ball, which allows you to work more than you would performing the standard, floor-bound version of the classic move.
This type of simple tweak to an old standard is a hallmark of the workout philosophy of Don Saladino, the trainer who he guided actors like Ryan Reynolds, Sebastian Stan, and David Harbour to transform their bodies for superhero action roles.
Saladino uses the Swiss ball pushup to hone his clients’ chest, triceps, and core with one move — which can pay off in dividends for other weight room disciplines.
“The Swiss ball pushup teaches how to tighten the body,” Saladino told MensHealth.com. “That improves the “high tension technique,” necessary in any of the big lifts — squat, deadlift, bench, pullup, and row.”
While the pushup variation can pay off in a variety of other lifts, its best benefits are for your torso.
“There’s great chest and core action here,” Saladino said. “It’s a great finisher for the chest, teaching [the athlete] to squeeze it.”
To perform the move, you’ll need a Swiss ball. Prop yourself up on the ball in an elevated pushup position, with your palms down and your hands pointing away from each other. To keep yourself stable, squeeze your glutes and core, maintaining proper spinal alignment.
Bend your elbows to lower your chest down to the ball, maintaining your position. Pause for a moment, then straighten your arms to return to the starting point. The trick here is to keep the ball — and your posture — as straight as possible.
“Here’s a tip: Imagine that you’re trying to explode the ball with your hands, and pulling the ball towards yourself,” advised Saladino.
To add Swiss ball pushups to your workout, try 4 sets of 5 reps as a warmup or finisher on chest days. For more superhero-body building moves, you can check out Saladino’s full program.
If you want to try out the move but you need your own ball, check out these options:
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