Exercise Balls: Good Exercises To Do Using A Stability Ball
A stability ball is a big ball full of air. They look like a toy but they are designed to be tough enough to support a person's body weight. You can use a stability ball while doing body weight exercises or while lifting weights like dumbbells. As a trust exercise I recommend you start by putting most or all of your body weight on the ball. The ball should become a little flatter when you lay or sit on it.
You can use the exercise ball in place of a chair or weight bench but it is not as stable as a chair or weight bench. So you should not attempt to use really heavy weights while using the ball. You can also use the ball as a light weight. Laying or leaning on the ball requires balance because they are round and they can roll. When you balance yourself you use your core muscles like your abs and back muscles.
These exercise balls are great for exercising your abdominal muscles but can also be used to work your arms or legs. Stability balls are round, soft, light, easy to move, versatile and compact. In most cases that makes them better than a chair or weight bench. To get your feet on the ball, kneel and put your hands on the ground to steady yourself. Then put one foot on the ball at a time. Another approach is to put your stomach on the ball and roll forward so your hands touch the ground. Then push the ball back with your legs.
After getting a stability ball, also known as an exercise ball or Swedish ball I did a lot of research and tried a large number of exercises I did not like a lot of the stability ball exercises. Below you will find the exercises I liked and instructions on how to do them.
Planks & Push-Ups
Put your hands on the ball and step back 3 steps. Push up so your arms are straight and lean on the ball. You can hold the position to do a plank or you can lower and raise yourself to do push-ups. To do an elbow plank set your elbows on the ball instead of your hands. Side planks or elbow side planks can be done on the stability ball but balancing makes them much more difficult because you only have one hand on the ball. The other hand is in the air. You can also do the exercises with your hands on the ground and your feet on the ball.
Put the ball beside you and sit down with your legs straight in front of you. Next put the ball between your ankles and lightly squeeze. Lean back so you are laying on the ground. Then slowly raise you legs slightly off the ground while squeezing the ball with your legs. The ball should be in the air and your feet should be close to the ground. Your hands should be at your side. Hold the pose for 60 seconds.
As you are doing the exercise you should feel your abs and your hamstrings. If you touch your abs during the exercise they should feel like they are being flexed. When I do it my abs feel really hard. At first the exercise may seem easy but the longer you do it the harder it will get. Leg raises are one of my favorite exercises using the stability ball. I can really feel it working the muscles.
The difference between leg raises and a leg lifts is how far you lift your legs off the floor. You start by doing a leg raise but you continue to lift your legs as high as they will go. Then you lower your legs back down until they almost touch the ground. Continue to slowly move the legs up and down doing as many repetitions as you can handle. Squeeze the ball hard enough to keep it between your legs and don't let it touch the ground while lowering your legs.
Windshield wipers are a side to side version of the leg lifts. Instead of moving your legs up and down you move them side to side like windshield wipers. Side leg lifts are very similar to leg lifts but you do them on your side. One leg is above the other like a pair of scissors. You can have the ball between your legs like in the video or you can put your side on the ball and open your legs like you had the ball between them.
To do hamstring curls lay on your back and put your ankles on the ball. Lift your torso while keeping your shoulders and head on the ground. You should be in the bridge stance. Then roll the ball towards you by bending your knees until your heels are digging into the ball. Hold the position briefly before rolling the ball back into the starting position.
You can do a number of repetitions or you can turn it into a hold by holding the position like you would a plank. For instance you could hold it for 60 seconds. If you are comfortable with the curls you can try doing them with one leg.
A rollout involves rolling the ball away from you while your holding on to it with your hands. At the end of each movement you can briefly pause before going back to the starting position and doing a set of repetitions or you can hold the stance like you would a plank. Kneel with the ball in front of you. Place your hands on the middle of the ball and roll it away from you by pushing it with your hands. Try to get the ball as far away as possible while keeping your hands on it. Then pull yourself back into the starting position. To do a standing rollout lean down and place your hands on the ball. Then roll the ball out a little at a time with your hands using a walking motion.
To do a knee tuck put your hands on the ground and your feet on the ball like you are going to do a plank or push up. Roll the ball forward while bending your knees. Then roll the ball back by unbending your knees after a brief pause. A similar but slightly harder exercise is the pike. To do a pike get into the push up position with your lower legs on the ball. You should be facing down.
Start the exercise by pulling the ball towards your head. As you pull the ball closer raise your bum and keep your legs straight. Your upper body should become almost vertical like you are doing a handstand. Hold it for a second or two before pushing the ball back and getting into the starting position.
Chest Press And Chest Fly
For these exercises you use the ball like a short bench. Grab a light set of dumbbells. Then sit on the ball. Walk out until the ball is supporting your upper back, shoulders and head to get into the starting position. Your legs and back support the rest of your body. The chest press is almost the same as a bench press. Raise the dumbbells over your chest. Then slowly lift the dumbbells until your arms are almost fully extended before slowly lowering it them back down.
Continue lifting and lowering the dumbbells until you experience muscle fatigue. It works your arms and your legs. To do a chest fly reach up so your arms are almost fully extended above your chest while holding the dumbbells. Then move your arms like you are slowly flapping them. Arc your arms down and to the side. When your hands get as low as your chest you should briefly stop before arcing them back up into the starting position.
The ball pass exercise involves passing the stability ball from your hands to your feet while you are laying on your back. Sit down and grab the exercise ball with your hands. Lean back and stretch out so your hands are behind your head and your body is straight. Then start passing the ball back and forth from your hands to your feet. Each time you pass the pall return to the starting position with the ball between your hands or your feet.
Sit on the ball and extend your arms in front of you. Your hands should be in front of your belly. Slowly bring your hands towards your chest. Then extend your arms back into the starting position. Do it while holding some light weights or while flexing your muscles to add to the resistance. You can also do this exercise while bending over on the ball. If you are bending over the movement is vertical instead of horizontal. They are called rows because the movement is similar to rowing a boat.
Using the stability ball you can do a modified frog stand. When doing a frog stand your legs are in the air. It is a difficult exercise because your arms are holding up nearly all of your body weight. By resting one or both of your feet on the ball you take some of the weight off of your arms and it is easier to balance. Try to put as little weight on the ball as possible.
The goal is to strengthen your arms and your abs. It does not make the exercise better. It just makes it easier. After practicing with the exercise ball you can try frog stands without it.
Kneel and Balance
This kneel and balance exercise works your core muscles. Start by putting your hands on the ball. Next put your knees on top of the ball near the center. Try to balance on top of the ball while maintaining good posture. When you are steady raise your arms so your hands are no longer touching the ball. I recommend you practice with your hands and knees for a while and do it on a soft surface like an exercise mat.
I got a stability ball because exercises that require balance work my abs and it looked like a good way to raise my body. I don't have an exercise bench so I was limited to using a chair or a set of stairs. Now I can do some of the body weight exercises on the stability ball and I can use it while lifting weights. These big exercise balls are mainly used by women but they are also good for guys. You can burn calories, build muscle and improve your abs but it does not replace cardio.
After getting the ball I included it into my workouts. I have been doing body weight and weightlifting with and without it. While using the ball I noticed it worked best for my triceps,hamstrings, back, abdominal and chest muscles.