You notice those big, brightly colored, bouncy-looking balls every time you’re at the gym—but what on Earth are you supposed to do with them? Stop staring and go grab one! Balance balls, also known as stability balls, are easier to use than you think, and they offer a wide variety of fitness benefits, from increasing flexibility to building strength to improving coordination and balance. Training with a ball is especially great for targeting core muscles, an area often neglected in our workout routines.
When using a balance ball, it’s important to maintain proper posture. This means keeping your back straight and not letting your knees lock in place. Here are a few simple exercises you can try if you’re new to balance ball workouts.
(Did you know Vitacost carries balance balls? Click here to learn more!)
Push-ups on a ball
- Lie with your abdomen on an exercise ball and walk your hands forward on the floor until the ball rests under your thighs.
- Lower your upper body to the floor. Hold this position for three seconds, and then push up so your elbows are straight but not locked.
- Keep your head in line with your spine and your abs engaged.
Squat with a ball
- Place an exercise ball between the wall and the curve of your lower back. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend your knees and lower 5 to 10 inches, keeping your shoulders level and your hips square.
- Hold this position for 3 seconds and then stand back up.
Overhead squat with a ball
- Grab an exercise ball and stand with your legs hip-width apart.
- Raise the ball over your head, your arms extended and close to your ears.
- Now squat down, keeping the weight in your heels and your arms extended.
- Hold the squat for one count, and then come back up.
- Lie on your back holding an exercise ball and lift your feet so your shins are parallel to the floor.
- Lift your head, neck and shoulders, and place the ball between your legs.
- Now lower your legs and reach your arms back.
- Come back up and grab the ball.
- Lie on your back with your heels on the ball.
- Hold lightweight dumbbells just above your chest with your palms facing forward.
- Press the weights straight up over your shoulders as you exhale.
- Hold the position for three counts, and then lower the weights.
NPC National Figure competitor Melissa Transou, a fitness expert, wife and mother, blogs about the unique sports and nutrition needs of women and female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com. Learn more about Melissa in this recent RXMuscle.com spotlight article, connect with her on Facebook or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.