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Living well: Stability push-ups

Push-ups are not fun. Period. From personal experience with this exercise, the strong distaste for this particular activity seems to come from a natural lack of upper body strength and core stability (which, you know, makes complete sense. Who wouldn’t enjoy exercising if they were both good at executing the moves and had inherent strength?).

Basic push-ups are geared toward helping you gain a greater general level of upper body strength, targeting the pectoral muscles, triceps, anterior deltoids and the midsection as a whole. Though standard push-ups pose a challenge as it is, if you’re looking to further challenge yourself and increase your upper body strength even more, give stability push-ups a try.

Stability push-ups are commonly categorized as a functional exercise. Functional exercises rely on your body to provide the resistance necessary for the exercise, rather than utilizing weights. Through functional exercises, your core and stabilizer muscles (which are the muscles of the body that act to stabilize one joint so a desired movement can be performed in another joint) are activated for the duration of the movement. When performing functional exercises, a machine or weight isn’t in charge of controlling movement patterns, your muscles are.

This specific variation of the push-up increases the difficulty and effectiveness of the workout.What you add in this variation is a test of balance through the use of an exercise ball. When you add the balance element, the rate at which your muscle fibers activate will increase. In addition to being a great upper body and core training exercise, the stability ball push-up also works well for gaining shoulder stabilization.

Important tip! The stability push-up requires a stability exercise ball and is much harder than it actually appears. You should keep in mind that before you can perform a stability push-up safely, you should progress from the basic push-up to the stability push-up by perfecting the form and execution of the basic exercise.

MBA student, Tora Osborne begins laying flat with her chest on the stability ball, placing her hands at the sides of her chest, toes on the floor and straight legs. (Photos by Bridget Stagnitto)


Next she pushes her body up until her arms are almost straight. Rembering to refrain from locking elbows, Osborne holds this position and balances for two seconds.


Lastly she slowly return to the starting position and repeats.