Stability Ball Workouts: The Next Step to Resistance Training

Celebrity personal trainer Lucas James and expert nutritionist and trainer Jason Apfel know working out can be difficult, especially without having a gym membership or full arsenal of exercise equipment at hand.  That’s why we’ve broken down the mechanics of ‘stability’ exercise balls, from their physical impact to actual routines you can perform at home or on vacation.

Also known as swiss balls, fit balls or physioballs, stability balls are large, vinyl balls you can incorporate in physical therapy or resistance training to both strengthen and stretch your body while improving core stability and balance at the same time.

Working out with an exercise ball can augment traditional strength training and make it well…fun.  Instead of using the same equipment for the same old exercise, stability balls add an extra element to create a more dynamic workout. They provide a great training tool for balance in addition to any stand-alone free weight exercise. By taking a traditional squat for instance and performing it with an exercise ball, it becomes a whole-body exercise, using accessory muscles to help stabilize your body while challenging your strength and coordination.

How do stability balls really work? Well, our bodies all contain ‘proprioceptors’ that help our bodies communicate internally, connecting the body with the brain to tell the body where it is physically and what it is doing.  By sending messages between the spinal cord and brain, theses receptors control the action of movement by communicating everything from joint position to muscle tension. When performing exercise ball exercises, you are stimulating these proprioceptors and challenging the body’s stability and balance while performing an exercise.

Which muscles are you engaging by using stability balls? Primarily the abdominals and other core muscles including the deep pelvic and low back muscles that are essential for good posture and plyometric movement.
Ultimately, using a stability ball helps to stimulate the smaller accessory core muscles in addition to the isolated muscles used in a any specific exercise.

Here are a few stability ball exercises you can try!

No. 1: Squats With an Exercise Ball

Stability Ball Workouts-Stand with the exercise ball propped between your lower (lumbar) spine and a wall, pressing slightly into the ball. With hands at your sides or on hips, check that your feet are hip-width apart and slightly in front of you.

-Bending at your knees and hips, slowly move into a sitting position with your knees over your ankles. Keep the ball in contact with your back as you move.

-Return to standing position, keeping the ball in contact with your back as you move.

Repeat 8-15 times.

No. 2: Ball Pass

-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.

Repeat this motion 10 to 12 times.

No. 3: Push-ups With an Exercise Ball

-Lie face down with the exercise ball underneath your belly and your palms flat on the floor.

-Use your hands to walk out to a plank position, resting the ball anywhere from your hips to your ankles. (This should be a position that provides for a challenging push-up, but allows your spine to stay aligned – with ears, shoulders, and hips in a line.)

-Bend your elbows to lower your upper body toward the floor, keeping your shoulders away from your ears and your abdominal muscles engaged.

Repeat 8-10 times.

No. 4: Abdominal Tucks With an Exercise BallStability Ball Workouts

-Get into a push-up position with the exercise ball under your knees and your palms flat on the floor.

-Tuck your knees in toward your chest as the ball rolls toward your ankles.

-Return to the starting position, staying balanced on the ball.

Repeat 8-10 times.

No. 5: Hamstring Curls With an Exercise Ball

-Lie on your back with the exercise ball under your heels and your palms flat on the floor.

-Lift hips slightly and bend your knees to draw the ball toward your buttocks, without moving your hips.

Repeat 8-15 times.

No. 6: Crunches With an Exercise Ball

Lie with your middle back on the exercise ball, feet flat on the floor  shoulder-width apart, and hands behind your head.

Lift your upper body up, using your abdominal muscles, not your neck. Do not pull with your hands.

Repeat 8-15 times.

About the Author

, Celebrity Personal Trainer and Fitness & Nutrition Expert headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ. He specializes in helping men and women achieve weight loss, muscle building, toning and other customized fitness & nutrition programs to create a Healthy Lifestyle. James offers private luxury personal training, 12-week custom workout plans, and personalized nutrition meal plans. Follow on Google+.

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