You probably have seen them before, either in the gym, or on Television: the exercise ball. Most people that have tried one, used it for crunches, but that’s not all you can do with this handy piece of fitness equipment. The exercise ball is a great little tool to help you get in shape in a fun way. It will take your workouts to the next level as it offers full body workouts that increase strength, stability and joint protection. Since we got one ourselves, we are hooked and want to show you a great exercise ball workout for strength and stability that will get you sweating and puffing, but also should be a lot of fun!
What is an Exercise Ball?
The exercise ball is also called a stability ball, Swiss ball or balance ball because of its function in stability exercises.
It is basically a large beach ball with a diameter of 55 (21,5″), 65 (25,5″) or 75 (29,5″) cm. The diameter of the ball is depending on your own height. Generally, you can use the following guideline:
- <5’5”: 55 cm ball
- 5’6” – 6”: 65 cm ball
- >6”: 75 cm ball
They come in all the colors of the rainbow, so regardless of your taste, there is an exercise ball for you!
Some of the great features of an exercise ball (apart from the training functionality) are the price and usability. It is cheap and can be used anywhere you want, at home, in nature, or at the gym. This makes an exercise ball accessible for everybody, which is super nice for something that can offer such a good workout.
Before You Get Started With The Exercise Ball
Before you get started, please keep in mind to put the proper amount of air in. Too much air and it won’t work because it will roll away constantly (or you will roll off it), while too little air will decrease its efficiency. When filled up right, the ball should be firm to your touch, but not under a great amount of pressure.
Start off easily, to feel if you have indeed inflated the ball correctly and try to get a good feeling of how it works. Start with some simple balance exercises. When you feel like you have mastered the ball, it’s time to start working your body!
Benefits of an Exercise Ball
If you need a break from lifting weights, or want a multifunctional and fun full body workout, the exercise ball is the right thing for you! The exercise ball offers a wide range of great benefits, that not too many people realise.
When doing exercise ball exercises, you are working your core as well as many other muscles to let your body move in a cohesive way, all the while keeping your stability. Increasing your stability and balance is great for several reasons. It will create more stable and stronger joints, which in turn reduce your risk of injury.
Other benefits of working the exercise ball are:
- It is great for your core.
- Improves your overall flexibility.
- You gain more balance.
- Improves the coordination of your body.
- It will boost your strength. Although it is clearly not a bodybuilding workout, it will definitely make you stronger and tone your arms, legs, abs and back.
- It will help you create a better and stronger posture.
- It is challenging and simply fun, which makes sure you stay motivated!
The Exercise Ball Workout For Strength and Stability
This workout will help you increase your strength and stability and provide you with a full body workout, which will definitely cause you to break a sweat. It consists of 8 exercises, and is suitable for beginners, intermediates as well as advanced athletes. You can simply increase the number of reps for each exercise to increase its difficulty level, depending on your fitness level. Beginners can start with 6 reps per exercise, intermediates can do 10 reps and advanced athletes should aim for 15 reps.
What you will need for our workout:
All you’ll need for our exercise ball workout is an exercise ball (duh!), a yoga mat for some additional comfort and a set of dumbbells (preferably adjustable to increase the difficulty level).
The Exercise Ball Hamstring Curl
This exercise is great for strengthening your hamstrings, glutes and core.
Lie down on the mat with your back flat on the floor and your arms to each side of your body. The ball should be where your feet normally are, if your legs are straight. Place your feet on the exercise ball, about hip width apart.
To start the exercise, squeeze your core, glutes and hamstrings to raise your hips from the floor until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your heels.
Now roll the ball towards your butt as close as possible, until your knees are at a 90 degrees angle. Slowly roll the ball back to its starting position, while keeping your hips under tension and raised from the floor. This is one rep.
Exercise Ball Jack-knife
This is an awesome exercise to train your core and abs, as well as your arms and shoulders.
This exercise is based on a plank. To start this exercise, assume a planking position with your hands underneath your shoulders and your shins on top of the ball. Squeeze your core to keep your body straight.
While keeping your core squeezed, bend your knees to roll to ball towards your arms. Roll it as far forward as you can while keeping your feet on the ball and your upper body parallel to the floor. Now slowly straighten your legs again until you are back into the planking position.
Exercise Ball Push-up
The push-up is one of the best exercises for building a stronger chest and triceps, while also working your core, abs and lats. The exercise ball adds an extra dimension as it will cause you to make a decline push-up, which targets your upper chest more. It also makes the regular push-up a bit harder, due to the balance of your bodyweight.
Get in a planking position just like with the previous exercise, but instead of your whole feet on the ball, try balancing on your toes. Your body should be a straight line and your core should be squeezed. Now make a regular push-up movement by bending your elbows and lowering your chest to the floor. Once your body is close to the floor, push it back up to get back into the starting position.
An important note on how to perform this exercise properly is the position of your hands and the movement of your arms. To prevent unnecessary stress on your shoulders, place your hands slightly more towards your belly, instead of directly underneath your shoulders. When you bend your elbows, your arms should form a 45 degree angle with your torso, viewed from above.
To make this exercise a bit easier, move the ball towards your hips so that your knees or shins rest on the ball instead of your toes.
Exercise Ball Squat
We have mentioned the squat before in several articles, for example in our Butt Workout. The squat is a superb exercise that works your glutes, quads, glutes, hamstrings, hip and core. With an exercise ball, it becomes even more fun than normally.
Start this exercise by placing the exercise ball against the wall and brace it with your back. Take a normal starting pose of a squat, where your feet are slightly wider than hip width and your toes are pointing outwards.
Lower your body in the squat position, while keeping pressure against the ball. The ball will roll down with you, providing stability. Move down as low as possible. When you are at your lowest, squeeze your glutes and push back up until you are in the starting position. This is one rep.
To increase the difficulty, add some weight. You can hold a dumbbell in both hands against your chest.
Exercise Ball Hip Trust
This exercise will burn your glutes, core and legs, one leg at the time. It is great to work muscle imbalances of your legs. This exercise is also done on a workout bench, but an exercise ball works even better as it pushes the focus on stability.
Lie down on the floor, with your back flat. Both feet are on the ball and your knees are bent at about 90 degrees. Your arms are on the floor by your sides.
Now lift one of your feet off the ball and extend it to a straight leg, pointing straight up. Squeeze your glutes and core to thrust your hips off the floor and pushing your straight leg even higher. Your body and bent leg should make a straight line – up until your knee that is. Once you have reached this position, lower your body down to the floor, while keeping your straight leg pointing upwards. This is one rep for one leg. Finish one set for one leg and then change to the other one.
A variation for this exercise is to keep both feet on the ball, while thrusting your hips up.
Exercise Ball Pike
Another exercise that will burn your abs but also works your glutes, making it perfect for the upcoming summer.
Start this exercise as you did for the exercise ball push-up. Your feet are lying on the ball, instead of resting on your toes. Your body should be in a straight line.
Engage your care and abs and push your hips into the air, while rolling the ball towards your centre. Your body should make a V shape at its highest point. After staying up for a second, slowly move your body down to the starting position. This is one rep.
Exercise Ball Crunches
This workout would not be complete with an effective and fun variety on the old-school crunch. It works your abs in a way you will surely feel the next day.
Start by lying with your back on the ball, your feet are on the floor and your knees are bent, so that your thighs and upper body are in a straight line. Your hands are behind your head, with your elbows bent sideways.
Now make the traditional crunch movement by squeezing your abs and bringing your upper body to your hips. Hold for a second while crunched and then slowly move to your starting position. This is one rep.
Exercise Ball V-up
There are several variations of this exercise, but all of them work your core, abs and legs.
Start by lying with your back on the floor. Your arms are behind your head, resting on the floor with your palms facing up. The ball is between your feet and you squeeze it continually to keep it there.
Now you move the ball up with your legs while you move your arms upwards as well, towards the ball. Squeeze your abs and core and move your shoulders from the floor to form a V shape with your upper body and legs. Try to touch the ball with your hands and then slowly move back to the starting position.
A different variation is where you move the ball further upwards, so you can actually grab it with your hands. Take the ball from your feet and move it to the floor with your hands, behind your head. The next movement is to bring the ball up with your hands and take it over with your feet. This switch movement makes this exercise extra interesting and slightly harder. Give it a try and see what you like best!
This is the whole workout. Like mentioned before, you can spice things up by adding weights or doing more reps. See what works best for your body and increase the difficulty from there. We recommend starting simple and expending when you master the basics.
The exercise ball, or stability ball, is great fun and offers a refreshing way of training your body. You can do a wide range of exercises with this cheap tool. There are so many exercises to be done, that we will write another blog shortly, which include even more cool and useful workouts you can do at home.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them via our contact page, leave a comment below, or visit us on our Social Media.
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