Would you like to add new challenges in your fitness training? Add an inexpensive inflatable exercise or “stability” ball. Often called a stability ball, this training tool actually adds a level of instability to your training. When using the ball, you must perform exercises while balancing on the ball, requiring you to stabilize your body in all three dimensions as you curl, press or push up. This stability training requires the use of most large muscle groups and especially the muscles of your core. Exercising on a stability ball also improves coordination and balance.
The exercise ball is ideal for both bodyweight training and resistance exercises using dumbbells. Here are five exercise ball exercises to get you started:
1. Squats with a twist. - Hold the exercise ball at arm's length and up at shoulder level. Now, perform a squat as you twist with the ball still at arm’s length and move the exercise ball as far to your left as possible. Pause briefly and then return to the center as you stand up. Repeat as you twist to the right and slowly alternate left and right. Squat down until the tops of your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Perform 8 to 15 reps of exercise ball squat twists to get your shoulders, arms, core, and legs warmed up.
2. Exercise ball pushups. - Lay face down on your stomach on the top of the ball. Slowly walk your hands forward until your lower legs and shins are resting on top of the ball and your torso is in a regular flat push-up position. Lower your torso until your upper arms are parallel to the ground, pausing briefly at the bottom and then return to the “up” position and repeat 10-15 reps. The exercise ball will require you to use your core to stabilize your body as you perform your push ups.
3. Exercise ball back extensions. - Start facedown on the ball, and your legs held straight behind you. Stabilize the ball with your hands until you get into position and then place your hands behind your head and slowly, with a controlled motion, arch your back and move your head and shoulders up towards the ceiling. Once your back is arched as high as possible, hold briefly then relax and repeat 8 to 15 reps.
4. Exercise ball dumbbell chest presses. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and sit on the ball. Roll your body forward until the exercise ball is directly below your back, as though lying on the ball. Pull each dumbbell up to chest level to the height of your nipple line. Continue until the dumbbells are together and your arms are fully extended. Pause briefly at the top, lower the dumbbells slowly and repeat for 8 -15 reps.