Exercise balls have been around the fitness world for the better part of five decades, but it wasn’t until the 2010s that they really came into their heyday as a hyper-popular piece of gym and fitness equipment. Now, you’ll find them in just about every home around the world. You’d be amazed by how useful they can be, and they may be just what you need to help you step your fitness up a notch. Here is what you need to know about owning and using an exercise ball for your workout routines…
Exercise Ball as a Chair
This is one of the best uses of an exercise ball, as using it as a chair forces your core muscles to engage and support your upper body while keeping your lower body and seat stable. Sitting on an exercise ball does more for core muscle activation than sitting on a chair, meaning your back, obliques, and abs get a workout even while you’re sitting down. If you’re one of those people who are trying to be more active despite your sedentary office job, an exercise ball may be just what you need.
Exercise Ball for Your Workouts
Using an exercise ball for your workouts is a good way to add instability to your movements. Instability in exercise can be dangerous, but if used in controlled environment, it’ll help to increase your core muscle engagement during exercises that don’t normally work out your core. For example, if you perform overhead shoulder presses while sitting on the ball, you force your core muscles to engage to keep your seat stable as you press the weight over your head. Or using the ball for abs exercises can make those movements even more difficult, as your body has to work extra hard to keep your movements controlled.
Crunches with a Fitness Ball
Crunches are one of the movements most commonly performed using an exercise ball. On a flat surface, crunches focus on the abs muscles, and it’s definitely a good one to help you build ab strength. But when you add a ball into the mix, all of the stabilizer muscles in your core are activated—not just your abs, but your obliques and lower back too. This makes the crunches twice as effective as they normally would be, and helps you to build a much stronger core.
Full Body Exercises with a Fitness Ball
Another good way to use the exercise ball is to mix it into your full body workouts. For example, if you’re doing push-ups, you can put your feet on the ball, forcing your core muscles to work harder to keep your lower body stable while your upper body does all the work. The same goes for Planks, Mountain Climbers, and any number of other full body movements. By mixing in an exercise ball, you add instability, and thus force your body to recruit those additional core muscles to keep yourself stable.
Other Types of Exercise Balls
While most of us think of the full-sized exercise balls as being the most popular option, the truth is that there are many more with many more uses. For example, medicine balls are used to add weight to more dynamic exercises, such as floor slams or wall ball. A Bosu half-ball is excellent for improving your balance while you work out, as it provides a flat platform on top of half an exercise ball. These two types of exercise balls are also very useful additions to your workout equipment, and they’ll do wonders to help you get a more varied routine!