Have you wondered about those huge “beach ball looking things” you see in just about every fitness facility? I know that before I was schooled on how to use them I had no clue what they were for. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find out how many exercises can be done with these sizable, yet weightless pieces of exercise equipment, so now that I know what to do with stability balls, let me go ahead and share a few tips with you to help you get acquainted with them.
Buying a stability ball – What size is right for you
Before I begin, however, here are a few things you should know before you go and purchase one. As far as what size would be right for you, a good way to find out would be to sit on a fully inflated one and make sure your knees are at a 90 degree angle with your thighs parallel to the ground. Some popular measurements are:
45 cm – if you are under 5’ tall
55 cm – if you are between 5’ and approximately 5’6’’
65 cm – if you are between 5’6’’ and 6’2’’
75 cm – if you are taller than 6’2’’
Another important thing to keep in mind while shopping for a stability ball is to specifically ask for one that is burst resistant. You want to be aware that should something puncture the ball, certain materials allow the air to slowly seep out while others could cause the ball to deflate immediately, causing injury. Usually, the cheaper the ball, the cheaper the material.
one more very important piece of advice…
Do NOT ever stand on a stability ball! Nothing good will result from this.
Now, let’s get to the good stuff.
How to do a lunge using a stability ball
Lunges, although popular and extremely beneficial, are advanced exercises and you need to know how to implement them properly into your routine. If you aren’t used to doing them, it’s wise to start light and progress until you are strong enough to support your body weight in this position. One of the best ways to do this is with the help of a stability ball. Using this tool allows you to build lower body strength and balance while taking pressure off of your knees. Of course, if you have any past or current knee injuries, then this exercise may not be suitable for you and I would advise you to check with your doctor first, but if not and you are ready to learn to do this movement in a safe and structured way, then check out this demonstration given by one of the Sparkpeople trainers.
Floor exercises to tone and shape the lower body – butt workout with a stability ball
You can get a great lower body workout using the stability ball. In addition to the lunges, you can move your workout to the floor and try some of these moves to tone your glutes and hamstrings and open up tight hip flexors. Notice the safe progressions she uses and as always, work out as a beginner if you ARE a beginner.
Upper body workouts with the stability ball
There are some extremely effective upper body exercises that can be done using a stability ball. In the video I’m about to share, the instructor simply holds the ball and does short pulses which is a great way to warm up your arms, shoulders and chest. When she demonstrates the tricep push-backs, notice the position of her arm. The long head of the tricep is in the direct line of pull for this movement and this is an important area to work since many women feel dissatisfied with the “wings” that occur under their arms over time. Lastly, when she does the push-ups and dips, if you feel you aren’t strong enough to use the ball for these exercises, do them on the floor first and progress as needed. You will see why I suggested a good quality ball.
You can do some highly beneficial exercises for your core using the stability ball. One of the reasons I like doing crunches on the ball is due to the additional range of motion in trunk flexion you can achieve since lying on the ball keeps your spine (safely) hyperextended. All of the workouts demonstrated in this short video are ideal for beginners because they are safe and structured in addition to targeting the entire core section of the body. At the end, she demonstrates how easily and efficiently you can stretch the area afterward with the help of the ball.
Use the stability ball, try out the routines and tell me what you think.
When it comes to fitness, remember this…the tools are wonderful, the techniques are helpful but it’s the journey that really counts.