Why Stability Balls are a Great Investment For You
Take a moment to think about all the pieces of exercise equipment you've ever seen on TV or in a gym. Now ask yourself a question.How many of those pieces of equipment were cheap, effective, yet extremely fun to use as well?
It's undeniable that those three elements of the criteria definitely shrink the list of possibilities down significantly. Of the items that remain though, the stability ball has to rank at the top.
How You Can Benefit from a Stability Ball
Most Bang for the Buck
It's possible to find stability balls for less than $10, and I've never seen one that costs more than $50. So it compares favorably in price to other pieces of exercise equipment.
More than that though, it can be used to exercise most muscle groups in the body. Every physical activity that you can do off of the ball is taken to the next level when done on the ball.
However, what makes the stability ball really effective for you is that it forces your body to recruit and strengthen more muscle groups in even the simplest of movements.
Lose Yourself in the Sheer Joy of Play
As you get more comfortable with the ball and increase your range of movements, it opens up a whole new world. You'll start flowing through the movements and chaining them together in unique forms.
It will be so easy to lose yourself in the play and forget about the exercise, even as your reap the benefits.
No matter what your goals may be though, one thing is undeniable. There is no other exercise toy that is as fun as a stability ball. There are just so many possibilities in how they can be used. So the only limit is your imagination.
Stability Ball Workouts and Exercises
Push-ups are a standard exercise, and we all know about them. By incorporating the stability ball in the process, you can take it to the next level.
A push-up on the stability ball will recruit more muscles throughout the movement and make the exercise more interesting because you will have to be more actively engaged to maintain balance. So give it a try.
Ball Hip Switches
To get in the starting position, place both hands on the ground and both knees on the ball, similar to a plank. Now the exercise consists of rotating your hips from side to side.
It's a great dynamic stretch for the hips and lower back.
Again the starting position is the plank on the ball. The exercise consists of curling your knees to your chest and back.
Your abs will be under constant tension through the movement because of the stability required. So you will be developing both isometric and concentric strength at the same time.
Ball Hamstring Curls
This exercise is pretty simple. Just lie back with your heels on the stability ball. Then elevate your hips off of the ground and maintain stable position while extending and bending the legs.
The benefit of the exercise is that you can focus on your hamstrings without expensive. Also if you want to make it more difficult, lift one leg straight into the air, and only curl with one at a time.
Ball Glute Bridges
The starting position for this exercise is the same as the Hamstring Curls. Only this time, the goal is to bridge your hips upward while keeping the ball relatively stationery.
It works as a great dynamic stretch while still making that basic movement both more challenging and rewarding by increasing the stabilization required throughout the movement.
Ball Roll Flow
To start with, just lay your chest on the stability ball and wrap your arms around the sides. The first movement of the drill is a simple forward shoulder roll. You just push off of your feet into the roll then stretch with the ball above your head. Now the next step is to do a V-Up and pass the ball to your feet, V-Up again and pass it back to your hands. Then finish with a explosive back roll up and over the ball.
You can add as many V-Ups in between as you want, and the act of passing the ball will add a element of play to that core intensive exercise.
Backward Knee Slide
I started doing this one intuitively, but I've since seen others doing it, and it's fun. The starting position is just both knees and both hands on the ball with no contact with the ground. Now the goal is to coordinate the movement of your hands and knees to roll the ball backward while staying on top.
Basically just crawling backwards on your knees using your hands to stabilize the ball throughout the process. As you get better at it, you can also starting changing direction as you move. The key is in the coordination between all points of contact with the ball.
Sprawl and Knee Switch
You start with your hands on the ball similar to the push-up then sprawl your hips back explosively and let your chest hit the ball. After that, hop up while bringing one knee towards your chest. You should end up with one knee on the ball and the other leg back for balance.
The exercise consists of those two movements. The sprawl plays a integral part in wrestling, MMA, and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, but it is also useful for improving hip power and flexibility. The knee switch is also more sport oriented, but it's core intensive.
Ball Hip Switches Variation
Start with no contact with ground and both hands and knees on the ball. Now the goal is just to maintain balance while dropping one hip at a time to the stability ball. Use your hands to help throughout the motion, and try to maintain the flow without touching the ground at all.
This is pretty self explanatory. You're just sitting on the ball and doing crunches. I highlight it only because I've noticed that I have more fun and feel more effect when doing it on the stability ball than otherwise.
Ball Back Extensions
Depending on the size of your ball, you may need a anchor for this movement. The test is whether or not you can extend your upper body away from the ball a good distance while keeping your feet planted on the ground.
If that is not possible, you can use a weighted barbell for example as a anchor for your feet. Then the exercise consists of keeping your back straight and strong while doing the back extensions. It is a great posterior chain exercise. You'll feel it in your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back,
One thing you should remember about all these exercises is that even if you stumble or fall, it doesn't matter. Just improvise and keep playing, it should be fun, and it will be.
How I Benefited
I made the decision to get a stability ball a few years ago, and it was pretty simple to act on it immediately. I just went to a local Sports Authority, grabbed one, blew it up, and got to work....falling.
It was immediately clear that doing all the cool stability ball drills I saw on Youtube just wasn't as easy as it looked. I still felt though that if it could be done, I could do it. So I just resolved to start from the ground up.
I threw away my computer chair and replaced it with the ball. In that one step, I transformed the sedentary activity of sitting into a one that taxed my body and balance, and I felt it immediately.
In those early days significant periods of just sitting on the ball would accelerate my heart rate and make me sweat slightly. I just wasn't used to all the small adjustments my body had to make in order to maintain balance, but time and consistent effort changed all that.
From that initial step of just sitting on the ball, I graduated to sitting without contact with the ground, then to kneeling, then to standing, and then to squatting.
All those simple activities were magnified both in difficulty and physical benefit just by the addition of a unbalanced surface.
Now I approached this all not from the standpoint of getting in shape or losing weight, but as a supplement to my training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It is in that area that I noticed most of the effect.
I gained a better awareness of weight distribution and how to focus my weight on specific points. It's also easier now for me to maintain my balance when external forces are trying to off balance me.