By Toby Massenburg
Originally published on Advocate.com May 06 2009 12:00 AM ET
How to turn the everyday push-up into the ultimate upper-body workout. There's a good reason you almost always have to wait for the weight-lifting bench at the gym -- because everybody knows the bench press is one of the best upper-body workouts out there, hitting your chest, triceps, and anterior deltoids at the same time. What most people don't realize is that the good old-fashioned push-up is an even better exercise because it also tests your core and upper back. So rather than circling the always-occupied bench, grab a medicine ball and try a set or two of these extra-powerful push-ups. The medicine ball is going to make things feel a little awkward at first, but you can find comfort in the fact that that instability is going to work your core that much more.
1. Assume the push-up posture with your right hand on the medicine ball in the 3 o'clock position and your left hand on the floor in the 9 o'clock position.
2. Tense your core and lower your torso until your elbows are both at 90-degree angles. Keep your body at the bottom of the push-up position for a count of two.
3. Extend your arms and return to the starting position. Repeat the movement until you've done it 10 times. Then switch the medicine ball to your other hand for another series of 10, making one complete set. You'll definitely feel the difference.
Vitamin Insurance In the rush to enhance workouts with creatine-laced protein shakes, a lot of gymgoers are forgetting a more run-of-the-mill (but just as important) supplement -- multivitamins. Vitamin C boosts muscle-building testosterone levels while keeping fat-boosting stress hormones at bay. And doses of vitamin E can help decrease muscle soreness and recovery time after your workout. I'm especially partial to AST Sport Science's Multi-Pro 32X, which with its potent antioxidants and abundant vitamins and minerals-four times the recommended daily allowance -- is ideal for the body-conscious. While some multivitamins are designed for once-a-day dosing, Multi-Pro is best when taken twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening (or post-workout), so that your body always has a steady influx of vital nutrients. $19.95; VitaminShoppe.com
Shoot the Curl If you're lucky enough to live near the ocean or your vacation plans include a trip to the beach, you can take advantage of a fun yet productive exercise regimen -- surfing. Who hasn't entertained the idea of grabbing a board (maybe signing up for some lessons) and gashing on some gnarly point breaks -- or whatever they're called. Despite the relaxed surfer-dude vibe, riding the waves is no slacker task, and the added bonus of the sport is a workout that simultaneously targets your shoulders, back, legs, and abs while improving balance and stability in your knees, hips, and lower back. Lessons are a must for beginners; they'll help you enjoy the sport and get a good workout. (There's no fitness benefit to getting knocked unconscious by a board.) Find lessons across the globe at TheSurfingSite.com .