The versatility of an exercise/stability ball has caused it to become a popular tool in many peoples fitness routine. People at the gym, on TV, and in videos use the exercise ball in hopes of getting the benefits it seems to provide. But do any of us really know what how to use an exercise ball correctly? (hopefully I do) Being the dedicated trainer that I am (translation: bossiest woman ever), it’s difficult for me to watch this without somehow finding a way to tell everyone the basic tips they need to follow when incorporating an exercise ball into their fitness regimen.
First, Choose the Right Exercise Ball
The stability ball comes in various diameters, some brands have a rubber strip surrounding the outside of the ball others are covered with little rubber massaging bumps meant to grip your body as you use the ball (I think…I don’t quite get those actually).
Choosing the right exercise ball to use in your routine is pretty simple. There are normally 2-3 sizes to choose from: 55cm, 65cm, 75cm. I normally recommend that people under 5’5? use a 55cm ball, people between 5’5? and 6’2? use a 65 cm ball and people over 6’2? use a 75 cm ball. You can also choose based on your level of comfort when using each size. To get maximum benefit, choose a ball that is fully inflated, then just briefly look it over for potential weaknesses in the balls surface. Most exercise balls are designed to deflate by allowing the air to seep out slowly, instead of just popping like a balloon.
The Benefits of Using a Stability Ball
Most exercise ball exercises will stimulate core musculature and teach you to stabilize your spine. The uneven surface of the ball challenges the nervous system to activate core muscles in order to keep you balanced on the ball. By balancing and maintaining a neutral spine, you are training your postural muscles to maintain appropriate posture. Any additional load you place on the body while in this position, such as weights or movement, will be even more challenging than when performed on a stable surface. In addition to the muscular challenge, using a ball requires increased mental focus to ensure you maintain the appropriate form throughout the entire exercise.
Improved core strength, balance and stability, are the major benefits you’ll gain when performing movements with the exercise ball. These three benefits are a main component of ‘functional’ fitness training, the simulation of both athletic and real-world body movements in the gym. Picking up heavy objects or lifting something out of the trunk of your car are two examples.
In addition to functional benefits, incorporating exercise ball exercises into your routine has the potential of increasing overall lean body mass. Increased lean mass is directly related to an increased metabolic rate that will help you to burn dreaded fat. Losing weight or fat will be an added benefit of using the ball.
If you are interested in making your workouts more interesting and effective, I recommend using a stability ball to replace the standard workout bench or exercise mat. While using the ball, make sure you are near a mirror, where you can monitor your posture and ensure your back is straight and your abs are tight. Always strive for perfect posture when using the ball to perform any exercise.
When you begin to use the ball, you’ll most likely be very off balance and a little timid. As your nervous system adjusts, you’ll become more confident and have the ability to challenge yourself in new and different ways. You’ll soon find that exercise ball exercises are fun and hopefully you will enjoy them as much as I do. I regularly teach how to use an exercise ball in my training sessions if you are interested in learning more, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org