Remember the old days of playin’ with a good ball out in the yard when you were a kid? Ever since the dawn of time – trust me, I was there – spheres and circles have been a source of inspiration and fascination. These days, you can harness that sense of fun and power for your workouts thanks to exercise balls!
Exercise balls – also called physioballs, Swiss balls, or fitness balls – are large, vinyl balls that you can use to strengthen and stretch your body. This provides more core improving power, stability, and balance to your workouts. The benefits are overwhelming and experts are takin’ notice:
“I named the exercise ball the one piece of essential equipment for fitness,”
says Jonathan Ross, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) 2006 personal trainer
of the year. “Everyone should own or work with one. It’s incredibly versatile,
it doesn’t take up much space, and it’s a very low investment.”
As far as gettin’ bang for your exercise buck goes, you really can’t do better than the exercise ball. So now let’s take a look at a few great exercises that you can do at home using this great fitness tool!
- 1) Push-Ups with an Exercise Ball
Lie face down on the floor with the exercise ball underneath your stomach and your palms flat on the floor. Use your hands to walk out to a plank position, resting the ball anywhere from your hips to your ankles. Then bend your elbows to lower your upper body toward the floor, keeping your shoulders away from your ears and your abdominal muscles engaged. Repeat 8-10 times. For a more advanced challenge, perform the push-ups with your hands on the ball and toes on the floor. Using an exercise ball during push-ups provides more of a challenge for your arm and core muscles.
2) Squats with an Exercise Ball
Stand with the exercise ball propped between your lower spine and wall, pressing slightly into the ball. With hands at your sides or on hip bend at your knees and hips, slowly move into a sitting position with your knees over your ankles. Keep the ball in contact with your leg. Return to the standing position, keeping the ball in contact with your back as you move. Repeat 8-15 times. For a more advanced challenge, lift one foot a few inches off the ground and try it again on one leg. The exercise ball provides more support for your back so that your core muscles and glutes are more engaged than usual.
3) Crunches with an Exercise Ball
Lie with your middle back on the exercise ball, feet flat on the floor shoulder-width apart, and hands behind your head. Lift your upper body up, using your abdominal muscles, not your neck. Do not pull with your hands. Repeat 8-15 times. For a more advanced challenge, begin with the ball lower on your back – this will put more body weight into your abdominals and force them to work harder. For an even more advanced challenge, lift one foot off the ground and try the crunches, then switch and repeat with the opposite foot off the ground. Using an exercise ball with crunches works out your abdominal muscles more than any other crunch exercise! You will definitely feel the burn on this one with an exercise ball.
So there ya have it, Rockheads, my very own essential fitness ball exercises. Have a favorite fitness ball exercise of your own? Leave it in the comment section!