Known by many names – gym ball, stability ball, exercise ball, balance ball, and even Swiss ball – it has some wonderful benefits. These large bouncing balls can be found in every gym today, but can also be used at home to incorporate into your workout regimen. In fact, these balls are a great way to improve strength, cardio endurance, and balance.
Leading fitness experts say that stability balls can help train your abs, improve your posture and balance, and strengthen your back and core. The best thing about this ball is that you don’t have to be a gym expert to use it, and you can easily incorporate it into your workout routine at home by learning how to use it effectively. Plus, it doesn’t take up much space, is inexpensive and lightweight, and can be quickly inflated and deflated.
Before you decide to purchase one of these balls, however, you should know which size is right for you. For example, those between 5 feet and 5.5 feet should choose a 55-centimeter ball. Those between 5’6 and 5’11 should choose a 65-centimeter ball. Finally, a 75-centimeter ball is ideal for people who are between 5’8″ and 5’8″ tall.
Now let’s look at some common and easy stability ball workouts that are good for your whole body.
Single Leg Bridge
Benefits: Increased strength in the posterior chain, improved proximal hip and core stability, and better hip dissociation.
Step 1: Lie face up on the floor behind the ball with your knees bent. Place your feet on the ball and your arms at your sides on the floor. Now slowly lift your hips off the floor until your upper back is stabilized.
Step 2: Pause and then slowly lift one leg straight up. Lower the leg and then return to the beginning. Repeat after 30 seconds and continue to alternate legs. Perform 2-3 sets on each side.
Benefits: Works the abdominal muscles and also the other abdominal muscles and core muscles that run from the pelvis along the spine and up to the shoulder girdle.
Step 1: Place the stability ball on the floor and get into a pushup position with your hands on it. Rest your weight on your elbows.
Step 2: Keep your body in a straight line from head to heels. Make sure your hips do not sag. Hold this position for at least 20-30 seconds. Do 3-5 sets and rest 30 seconds after each set.
Benefits: Works your quadriceps, gluteal muscles (a set of smaller muscles located in the buttocks), hamstrings, hip flexors, and core.
Step 1: Place the stability ball up against a wall and make sure it braces against your back. Now, lower down into a squat position until your legs form 90-degree angles at the knees.
Step 2: Use the ball to support your back and roll it from your lower back to your shoulder blades. Squat down low to deepen the move and provide more stability. Complete 10 to 15 reps (repetitions).
Note: Make sure that your knees don’t roll out to the sides during the exercise. They should be in line with the rest of your body.
Benefits: Works your glutes, hamstrings, and core.
Step 1: Lie on your back and place your calves and heels on the stability ball. Keep your arms by your sides and your palms facing down. Step 2: Move your hips up by tightening your glutes and hamstrings until your body is straight. Tighten your core and extend your legs straight out, moving the ball away from you. Slowly lift your hips and bend your knees.
Step 3: Roll the ball back in by pulling your heels toward your buttocks until the soles of your feet touch the ball. Now stretch your knees and lower your hips and back to the ground. Repeat. Complete 12 to 15 repetitions.
Benefits: Strengthens the muscles of the lower back.
Step 1: Place the front of your body from hips to ribs on the ball. Your legs should be stretched straight back, while your toes should rest on the floor. Your body should form one long line.
Step 2: Raise your chest and hold onto the ball for balance. Pull your shoulders back as you exhale and keep your neck in line with your spine. Return to a relaxed position. Complete 12-15 reps.
Benefits: Works your chest and shoulder muscles.
Step 1: Lie face down on the stability ball with both feet and hands on the floor, hip and shoulder width apart. Place your hands on the ball at the sides of your chest and your toes on the floor with your legs straight. Now push your body up until your arms are almost straight. Make sure your elbows are not locked.
Step 2: Hold and balance for two seconds. Slowly return to the starting position and continue for 8-10 reps.
Benefits: Works your shoulders and triceps. Strengthens both your chest and core muscles.
Step 1: Lie with your back on the ball while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your feet flat on the floor with your ankles directly under your knees. Bring both weights up to your shoulders while bending your arms with your elbows wide.
Step 2: Tighten your core with your hips up. Exhale slowly as you push the weights toward the ceiling. Make sure you hold the dumbbells by your chest with your palms facing forward. Hold this position for one second.
Step 3: Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. Repeat while using your abs to keep your body still. Complete three sets of 10-12 reps keeping your hips raised the entire time.
Benefits: Great cardio workout. Also works on your core.
Step 1: Start by resting your hands on either side of the ball. Extend your feet behind you so that you are leaning on the ball in a high plank position.
Step 2: With your core in motion, bring your right knee forward under your chest. Quickly switch legs and bring your left knee forward while sending your right foot back. Return to the starting position.Do 12 reps, alternating legs.
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