Whether you're in the gym, at home, or any other place your crazy life might take you; exercise should be an important part of it. A tool that can be used throughout all locations of your life is a stability ball. Stability balls (also referred to as exercise balls, balance balls, physioballs, or fitness balls) are more than just a toy to have fun and bounce around on. They’re a very functional tool to improve strength, cardio endurance, and balance. Your lower body, upper body, and core workouts can get more bang for their buck by incorporating a stability ball. Whether you have already conquered the floor plank or are just a beginner, the stability ball adds an unstable surface to confuse your muscles and make them work just a bit harder.
To get the most from your workouts, you have to choose the appropriate sized stability ball. When sitting on the ball it should fit like you are sitting at an office chair (you should be able to sit with your knees at a right angle and your thighs parallel to the ground). Choosing the best ball for your height is ideal. The diameter of the ball makes all the difference. If you are between sizes, try testing out both sizes and see which works best for you. Here are the suggested diameters based on your height.
4'11" to 5'4" height: 55 cm ball
5'4" to 5'11" height: 65 cm ball
5'11" to 6' 7" height: 75 cm ball
Reps and sets on the stability ball depend on your fitness levels. For most of these exercises, its recommended to do 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 20 reps. After a few workouts, try bumping up the reps to really test that strength. Ready to go?
Stand about three feet from a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart and your back to the wall. Place the ball between your lower back and the wall and squat down slowly until your legs form 90-degree angles at the knees. Use the ball to support your back as it rolls from your lower back to the shoulder blades. Slowly stand up again and repeat.
Lie on the floor with arms extended perpendicular to your torso and lower calves and heels resting on the ball. Engaging your glutes and abs, lift your hips up from the floor. Use your outstretched arms for stability. Slowly bring your knees in towards the hips, so your feet are resting flat on top of the ball.
Pause for a few seconds in this position and then straighten your legs out again. Keep those hips up the whole time to get maximum gluteus maximus benefits. Aim for 10 to 12 reps of this total-body move.
While standing, place the ball behind your body and put one foot top-down on the top of the ball. Step the other foot out about six inches, and bend both knees in a deep lunge. Make sure the knee of the front foot does not go over your toes.
Start with your chest on the ball, with fingertips and toes resting on the floor. Roll forward so hands are under shoulders and hips are directly touching the ball. With your feet together and the core engaged, lift your legs straight from the floor until they are in line with the torso. Hold for a beat and then repeat. Try for 12 to 15 reps before heading back to solid ground.
Take this basic bodyweight move to the next level with a stability ball. Lie facedown on the ball with your hands and feet touching the ground and your stomach on the top of the ball. Walk your hands out until your shins are resting on the ball and your torso is in a flat push-up position.
Lower your torso towards the ground until your upper arms are parallel to the ground. Return to the “up” push-up position and continue.
The stability ball will give your shoulders and arms an extra-tough workout. With one leg extended behind, rest your elbows and forearms on the ball (for a really tough challenge, try this with straight arms). Step your other leg back so your feet are together. Hold this position as long as possible.
Start with your stomach and hips on the ball, legs extended straight behind (toes resting on the ground). Hold onto the ball with your hands for balance. If this position is difficult to maintain due to slippery shoes, try placing your feet against a wall. Raise your chest high (like a yoga “cobra”), bringing your hands to the back of your head. Hold for a beat or two, and return to a relaxed position. Repeat for 12 to 15 reps.
This super-advanced move will have even fitness buffs sweating. Start in push-up position (mentioned above), but with your toes instead of shins resting on top of the ball. With straight legs, use your abdominals to pull your toes towards the chest. Your torso should be in a push-up position with your back straight (no arching or sagging) and legs angling down towards the ball.
Start in push-up position with your toes resting on the ball and straight arms, with your hands on the ground under the shoulders. Bring your knees towards your chest until your knees are directly under the hips. Extend knees back to push-up position and repeat for 10 to 15 kick-butt reps.
Start with the ball under your hips and low back and knee at a 90 degree angle. With your arms behind your head engage your abs and do a normal crunch. This should be an easy alternative to crunches on the floor. It may even make the basic crunch more comfortable.
Try this alpine-influenced move to work the sides of your abs. Sit tall on the stability ball with your feet together. In one smooth motion, swing your feet to the right and your arms to the left.
Good luck with this new exercise tool! Embrace the bounce!
Tesa is new to blogging, but hopes to make a big impact with her vast knowledge of athletics and experience. Tesa recently earned her bachelor's degree at the Pennsylvania State University. While majoring in Athletic Training and minoring in psychology, she worked with various division one collegiate sports teams. Tesa is continuing her education by pursuing her Master's of Science in Kinesiology with a concentration in sports pedagogy at The Louisiana State University. Tesa is a board certified Athletic Trainer and a Performance Enhancement Specialist. Outside of the training room, Tesa enjoys going on runs and working out for leisure.
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