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Pushing the Envelope with Push-ups

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Now that your push-ups are perfectly poetic, are you ready to move to center stage with your next play?

By doing push-ups on the medicine ball, you have scripted a whole new challenge for your chest.

When you modify even the most basic movements, you recruit new muscle fibers and take your routine out of a rut. With this particular variation on the traditional push-up, you'll most likely have to move back to your knees, but don't sweat it. With all those military push-ups that you've been pumping out, you're well rehearsed for this second act.

If you're already partial to push-ups, you'll be pleased with the results. The exercise still targets your pectoral muscles, but you will get deeper into the muscle and really feel the stretch. Your deltoids and triceps also get a workout.

To precisely perform push-ups on the medicine ball, assume the standard push-up position on your knees. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart with your right palm on top of the ball and your left palm on the floor. Push up with your right arm until your left arm is nearly fully extended. Then, slowly lower yourself back toward the floor just until you feel a good stretch on your right side. Don't attempt to go farther than this, as injury can occur. Your abdominal muscles should be engaged throughout the exercise so that your back remains straight. Your head and neck should remain in a neutral position throughout.

Do the exercise eight to 10 times. Then after a brief intermission, switch sides and complete another eight to 10 repetitions. Don't attempt this exercise on your toes unless you are absolutely sure you can sustain your body weight with one arm.

Push-ups are a great endurance exercise and can really enhance your strength without adding bulk to your upper body. Sexy sculpted shoulders, a chiseled chest and toned triceps are the result of incorporating push-ups into your training repertoire.

Don't panic if you aren't proficient. Practice makes perfect.


(Nancy Cole is a certified personal trainer who teaches at Body & Soul in Coral Gables, Fla.)


(c) 2003, The Miami Herald. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

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