Thanks for the great question, Chris.
My pushups are coming along very well. I passed my PT test last week without difficulty and now I'm going to continue to work on core and upper body strength, but with lots of rest periods built in. lol
Diamond pushups work your triceps. To do them, put your hands together on the floor under the middle of your chest. Put your two index fingers together and put your two thumbs together at the tips. The space in between is the diamond.
Block pushups use a device that you can hold onto while you are doing the exercise. You can use a block, bar, or other gadget. It reduces the stress on your wrist because holding onto the block allows you to keep your hand and arm in a straight line. At home I use a set of pushup bars. They allow me to work the larger muscle groups without having to worry about my wrists getting really sore.
Some people make their hands into fists to keep the wrists straight but this can be painful on the knuckles if your floor surface is hard.
With the stability ball, the position varies depending on the type of workout you want.
Decline pushup - Put the stability ball under your hips or upper thighs to make the pushup easier. Most of your lower body weight is supported by the ball so this is a great exercise to do at the end of your workout when your muscles are tired. If you move the ball further down towards your feet you find the workout much harder because you will move into a decline position and will have the added challenge of keeping your core tight to prevent the ball from rolling away.
Incline pushups: Either put your feet on the floor or raised on a bench (your choice). Put your hands on the stability ball and start doing pushups. Alternately, put a hockey stick or broom handle on the stability ball and put your hands on the stick while doing pushups. By putting either the ball or your feet against a wall, you will find the exercise easier. To increase the difficulty you can move into the center of the room and try to keep the ball from rolling away by using your core muscles to keep your body under tight control.
The stability ball with jack knife is a particularly painful experience that I highly recommend that you attempt. This is how you do it:
-Put the stability ball under your feet and adopt the pushup position with your hands on the floor. Your core will be tight and your body will be straight.
-Do a full pushup and return to the start position where your arms and your body are straight.
-Do a jack knife by using your feet to draw the stability ball in towards your stomach. At this point your arms are still straight and your legs will bend to bring the ball towards your center. Try to avoid putting your butt way up in the air. Also avoid lowering your head.
-Finish the jack knife by pushing the ball back to its original position. You will now have a straight body and your arms will be fully extended.
-Repeat pushup and jack knife cycles while keeping your abs tight and watching that your lower back does not become sore. Core strength is crucial. Also, your head and neck should stay aligned.
Overall, this is a nasty exercise for a beginner but you will be very proud of yourself once you master it.