Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Exercise Physiology


Kinesiology and Nutrition Sciences

First Committee Member

Lawrence A. Golding, Co-Chair

Second Committee Member

John C. Young, Co-Chair

Third Committee Member

John Mercer

Fourth Committee Member

Richard Tandy

Fifth Committee Member

Antonio Santo

Graduate Faculty Representative

Harvey W. Wallmann

Number of Pages



A recent trend among fitness professionals is to have clients perform resistance exercises on unstable equipment. Anecdotally, this is done with the intent that stabilizing and agonist muscles are more active while doing certain exercises on unstable surfaces. However, there are limited data as to whether or not this is the case and no studies have investigated muscle activity while doing the same exercise on surfaces that offer different levels of stability. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to measure electromyography (EMG) during push up exercise performed on unstable surfaces as well as on the ground. Surface EMG was measured at 6 muscles (Pectoralis Major, Anterior Deltoid, Tricep Brachii, Latissimus Dorsi, Rectus Abdominus, External Oblique) while participants performed push ups on 3 different surfaces: ground, stability ball, suspension trainer. A repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to compare average and root mean square (RMS) EMG across three repetitions between surface conditions for each muscle. A Sidak planned main effects multiple comparison was used to compare differences between conditions. For each muscle, average EMG and RMS EMG was influenced by surface the push ups were performed on (p<.05). The suspension training system showing increased muscle activity in four of the measured muscles (Tricep Brachii, Latissimus Dorsi, Rectus Abdominus, and External Oblique); the ball showing increased EMG in the Pectoralis Major; and the ground showing increased EMG for the Anterior Deltoid. Doing push ups on unstable surfaces results in an increased muscle activity of stabilizing muscles. Furthermore, the type and level of stability of the surface influences muscle activity.


Electromyography; Exercise; Muscles; Stability ball; Suspension training system; Swiss exercise balls


Biomechanics | Exercise Science | Kinesiology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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