A relatively advanced exercise suitable for shoulder-injury rehabilitation or prevention. The athlete performs a closed-chain upper-body movement (the press-up) while having to control the shoulder joint to a high level because of the unstable ball. The exercise is much more demanding than a ground-based press-up on both the prime movers and the stabilising muscles.
Suitable for all athletes looking to develop advanced shoulder stability, particularly in the scapula area. To get benefit from this exercise the athlete will need a good level of upper body strength and good pre-existing scapula control and rotator cuff strength, otherwise they will be unable to perform the movement with good technique.
Kneel in front of the ball and place your hands shoulder-width apart on the ball. Tuck your stomach in and tilt your pelvis so your lumbar spine is stable in the neutral position.
Engage lower trapezius muscles to pull your shoulder blades down – setting your upper back into a strong and stable position. This is the most important manoeuvre before starting the movement, as it ensures the shoulder joint is stable.
Slowly lower your chest down to the ball. Keep your shoulders wide and low, holding your shoulder blades set in the strong position. Avoid hunching up and keep your neck relaxed and long.
When your chest is near the ball, push down into the ball, extending your arms to raise up again to the start position.
As you lower or raise up the ball may wobble and your hands may move from side to side. This is part of the difficulty of the exercise. Work through these wobbly movements and concentrate upon keeping your upper back set and your shoulders relaxed.
Do not perform the exercises with poor form. If you feel your shoulders hunching up, or that your upper trapezius muscles are working hard and your lower trapezius muscles have switched off, rest.
Reps and sets
Start with 5-rep sets x 2 to 4 sets. Take one minute’s rest between sets. Build up to 2 to 4 sets of 10 to 15 reps. Use a fairly large ball (at least 60cm).
Once the exercise becomes easy, change the start position so you are on your feet instead of your knees. Maintain a straight body position to increase the load of the movement.