In a world filled with fancy fitness equipment, it might surprise you that there is little that works your whole body better than an exercise ball. To stay on the ball, literally, you’re forced to use all of your muscles, which helps build strength and improve balance.
Exercise balls (also called stability balls) are also great for people trying to get back into shape after an injury because they can reduce muscle and spinal strain during certain movements. Once you buy your ball, here are some ways to work with it.
For an Easy Workout:
Overhead Ball Squat
Complete a traditional squat while holding the stability ball with your arms fully extended overhead. Adding the weight of the stability ball while keeping the torso in an upright position engages the shoulders and deltoid muscles. Go for 10 to 15 reps.
To Strengthen Your Core:
Hanging Knee Raise
Ready to bring your abs out of hiding? Place the ball in front of a weight bench or a piece of sturdy furniture. Lie back on the ball, with your shoulders and back touching the surface and the weight bench (or sturdy furniture) behind you. Grasp the weight bench with your hands and keep your legs pressed tightly together. Flex your abs and bring your knees toward your chest, using your arms for stability for 10 to 15 reps.
To Improve Balance:
The stability ball takes push-ups to the next level while also helping improve balance. Lie face down on the ball with hands and feet touching the ground and the 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 toward the ground until your upper arms are parallel to the ground. Return to the “up” push-up position and continue for eight to 10 reps.
To get the most bounce for your buck, make sure to choose the correct size stability ball. Some exercises use a bigger or smaller ball. Most balls come in three diameters, which are chosen based on the user’s height:
- 55 cm for people between 4’11” and 5’4”
- 65 cm for people between 5’4” and 5’11”
- 75 cm for people between 5’11” and 6’7”
A good rule of thumb for finding the right fit: Sit on the ball and make sure your hips and knees are at right angles with the floor.