If you visit a gym late, you may have probably seen a large ball- exercise ball and wonder what sports games they play with such a huge ball.
Out of curiosity, you started bouncing that until a gym staff shouts at you “why are you playing? That’s an exercise ball.”
Nowadays, fitness centers include exercise ball among their gym paraphernalia. Though it may not look like a powerful tool, some of the trainers highly recommend this to those who are gym junkies. It is also good for the beginners who want to work on their balance, cardiovascular system, flexibility, and stability through a low-impact workout.
What is an exercise ball?
An exercise ball is a flexible ball made of soft elastic material. It has a valve system which serves as an air passageway and controls air pressure through deflation. When filled with air, its diameter ranges from 13 inches (35 cm) to 33 inches (85 cm).
That big colored balls you see at the gym have several names; Fitness balls, stability balls, exercise balls, Swiss balls, fit balls, yoga balls or physio balls. Fitness ball is a fun and cheap way to add to your fitness routines, can be used by kids, adults, and senior adults.
If you ever tried one, you might find it hard to maintain your stability. Exercise balls are unstable, which challenges and engages core muscles while performing strengthening exercises.
How to use an exercise ball when you are a beginner?
If you are new to an exercise ball, you may want to prepare your ball properly to avoid falling onto the floor during exercising and injuring yourself.
Incorporating an exercise ball in your workout helps you build muscle without the strain of pulling or lifting heavy loads.If you are using it for the first time, it may be a little unfamiliar because the ball is bouncy and rounded.
Here’s a beginner’s step-by-step on how to use an exercise ball
Step 1: Buy a ball size proportion to your height
Start by Inflating your new exercise ball with the correct amount of air. Your exercise ball size should be proportional to your body size, not just for safety reasons but so that you can work out a sweat comfortably. If the ball is a lot bigger or small than you it would be difficult to manage it during your fitness session.
How do I know what exercise ball size to get?
As a rough guide, if you are shorter than 5 ft (152 cm), you should choose a ball of roughly 45 cm in diameter. If you are taller than 6’2” ft (187 cm), you should choose a ball of roughly 75 cm in diameter. If you are of average height, you can choose a ball of either 55 cm or 65 cm.
Step 2: Inflate to full, and then release some air.
When you inflate the ball fully, go and slightly deflate the ball a little before closing the seal. This is so that the ball would be less firm and hard, and be a little bit softer. This helps beginners as the ball would be easier to manage with some air leeways. Take some time to get used to gripping the ball and managing the bouncing and feel of the ball.
As you get used to the grip and control, you can increase the air pressure to make the ball harder and more resistance to your efforts to improve your exercise routine strength.
Step 3: Exercise in a safe and spacious zone
Look for a large enough area that you can move your arms and legs easily without hazards.
Remember your exercise ball can bounce and trail off, so a good amount of space is needed. As with any other forms of exercising, there should not be sharp objects around, least of which may hurt you or burst the ball.
The good thing about exercise ball is that it can be used indoor (for example a meeting room in office) or outdoor (the beach or park).
Step 4: Sit on it comfortably
Sit comfortably on your exercise ball. Let yourself get used to the feel of the ball with your feet on the ground.
In your sitting position, make sure both feet are flat on the ground, knees are bent at a comfortable 90-degree angle and your back straightened and steady
If you are losing balance, lift both arms up at the side, or open your feet wider, your body will automatically react to find a stable balance. Then you can slowly put your arms down and narrow your feet together to get back at balancing.
Step 5: Relax and breathe.
As with any other fitness regime, do breathe slowly and steady.
For more oxygen reaching your lungs, inhale with your nose and exhale with your mouth. You can inhale while exerting efforts, and exhales while releasing efforts, this will naturally help regulate your exercise with enough oxygen to your muscle training.
5 simple workout using an exercise ball for beginners
This is a basic and simple workout using an exercise ball. This is good for your core stability and posture. Extra bonus: You can do this workout easily while sitting on the ball and reading some documents or watching the TV or Youtube for leisure. It is a convenient exercise in office or home
- Sit on the ball comfortably until your body loosens up.
- Put your hands upward or behind your head.
- Slowly, start moving your hips forward, backward, and sideward until you are able to form a circle.
- As you get better, create a larger circle.
- Make at least 20 circles per set.
- Do 3 sets or more.
Ball bouncing and lifting
This is a fun and easy playful exercise. Most people love sports games, so treat this as a game of bounce. This helps to improve and strengthen your core muscles.
- Stand up straight and your feet are flat on the floor.
- Start bouncing the ball for at least 5 10 seconds.
- While doing it, keep in mind that it must be near you so that you can keep your balance at the center of gravity.
- Once done, start lifting the ball and place it above your head for at least 10 seconds.
- Your feet must still be closed to each other.
- Place the ball at the floor afterward.
- Repeat the bouncing and lifting for at least 2-3 minutes.
You will need a sturdy wall on this. Please do not try on a flimsy thin partition wall or wooden panels. This workout helps train and strengthen your hips, thighs, back, and knees.
- Find a solid wall.
- Against the wall, place the ball behind your lower-mid back.
- Lean against the ball with your feet at least hip-distance apart and slowly bend your knees to do a squat position.
- Go as low as you can to put some weight in your knees, legs, and heels.
- As you rise, try to keep your weight in your heels.
- Repeat doing it for 15 reps. You can do more if you like.
Inner thigh squeeze
This exercise is perfect for you to work out those thighs to lose those fats! Another “sitting exercise”, you can do this while reading documents, or watching televisions or youtube videos.
- Sit comfortably with your back straight and feet flat on the floor.
- Put the ball in between your knees. Your knees should be wider than your hips.
- While engaging your core, start squeezing the ball using your knees.
- After some time, stop to let your thigh rest for a bit but never drop the ball.
- Once relaxed, restart squeezing the ball.
- Do this at least 10 times.
You need a yoga mat or at least a clean and comfortable floor. The hip lift will help you to improve your balance and core muscle.
- Place a yoga mat on the floor.
- Lie down on it and put your feet on the exercise ball afterward.
- Slowly, lift your hips off the ground as higher as you can while keeping your abs tight.
- Hold your position for at least 5 seconds. You can increase the time limit as you get better.
- Repeat doing it for 15 times.
Moves with Exercise Balls for Abs
Get on the Ball: Strength Training With Stability Balls by the University of Arkansas taught us how to do Abdominal Curl with an exercise ball.
First, you need to get into position:
1. Sit on top of the exercise ball with your feet shoulder-width apart and flat on the floor.
2. Slowly roll out until the ball is resting on your mid/lower back.
3. You can vary your arm positions to affect the difficulty of the move:
• Hands touching opposite elbows; arms may be rested on the chest.
• Hands touching opposite shoulders; arms may be rested on the chest.
• Hands softly touching the head above the ears.
• Hands softly clasped behind the head. Avoid pulling on the neck in this position.
1. Slowly contract your abdominal muscles to lift your torso up off the ball.
2. As you curl up, keep the ball stable – don’t roll forward or side-to-side.
3. Slowly lower back down to the starting position and get a good stretch through the abdominals.
What are the benefits of training with an exercise ball?
Paul Goodman on The “Core” of the Workout Should Be on the Ball explain that using exercise balls can help improve balance, endurance, coordination, proprioception, kinesthetic awareness, strength, power, stability, and range of motion.
By using an exercise ball, you can add variety and help meet your fitness goals.
You can use an exercise ball as “weight bench” or “chair” to increase the intensity of the movements and target the legs, buttocks and core muscles.
2. Core training.
Back extensions and abdominal curl exercises performed on the ball make the movements more challenging. More muscles are used to do the exercises on the stability ball than if done on a floor.
3. Sitting around.
Even the “rest” period between sets while sitting on the stability ball challenges core muscles. Sit on a stability ball to improve posture and engage core muscles while working on your desk or at home watching TV.
4. Flexibility and stretching.
The exercise ball can increase your flexibility because you have to stretch more. Use this to enhance stretching exercises.
5. Strengthen your core
The core is the muscle in the middle of your body that helps support your upper and lower body movement and creates the balance and stability of your body. The core muscles help to protect and manage your spine and pelvis.
Thus, strengthening your core or “midsection” is important because it enables you to perform tasks that need steadiness and endurance. Training on an exercise ball is an effective way to help you achieve that by just simply keeping your balance even while sitting on it, lifting and bouncing it, or using it to perform a sit up. Since it has an unstable surface, it forces your body, particularly your core muscles, to work harder naturally in order for you not to fall.
When you strengthen your core, it helps to give you firm and visible abs.
How can exercise ball improve your posture?
An exercise ball can help you improve your posture especially if you are suffering from back and spine problem. The act of sitting on it to balance helps train and strengthen your core muscle.
During training, it supports your lower back and other posterior muscles that keep your back straight. It also allows your spine to maintain its natural curve which keeping you from back pain.
Support muscle balance
Another good thing about using an exercise ball is that it supports muscle balance. Your body is composed of muscles and when one is stronger than the other, it creates muscle imbalance. For example, your anterior muscles are stronger than your posterior muscles and when one of the muscle group is overtrained, it can cause you imbalances as well as bad posture. But through the help of an exercise ball during training, it enables your posterior muscles to work as hard as the anterior muscles.
Benefits of an exercise ball
Exercise Ball can strengthen
- improve lumbar mobility and back muscle
- improve abdominal and stomach muscle
- proper posture
- Improve your core muscles control
- Improve your balance and stability
Advantages of having an Exercise ball
- No need for an expensive gym membership
- Cheap and does not take up space
- Able to use at home or office
- The exercise ball can dual-use as a chair
- No more excuses of no time to exercise. You can exercise while watching TV, or lunch break!
Exercise Ball – Perfect for Home and Office Use too
The great thing about exercise ball is that it does not take up too much space and is safe to leave it around in office and home because it is soft. You can have an exercise ball at home and one at the office. That will make it convenient for you to sneak in a ten minutes exercise routine at tea break or lunch.
What is the best exercise ball?
Using an exercise ball for the first time may be challenging. It’s okay though because by the time you will improve. Our recommendation is to have professional instruction for the first couple of times so you can train safely. Always start with the easiest exercises first to get accustomed to the ball, and you can learn the technique and improve your balance from time to time. Before using an exercise ball, check with your doctor. Exercise ball training is recommended for most people, but certain risk factors, diseases or handicaps – or pregnancy – may mean that some exercises have to be modified.
To get the best exercise ball, you would want one with high-quality material so that the ball can last through years of rough wear and tear. And with a good pump so you can easily pump it to be hard and rigid, or softer with some cushion.