How To Use Exercise Ball
If you want to vary you workout routine, learn how to use an exercise ball. An exercise ball can help with various muscle groups, getting you fit in no time. Here are some steps to using an exercise ball.
- Don’t overinflate. When you use an exercise ball, you need it to be flexible enough to bend a little during your exercise. Yet you need it to remain firm enough to support you throughout your movements. To achieve this balance, avoid overinflating your exercise ball. By pumping it full of air until you can no longer fill it, your ball will be too hard and inflexible to be of any use. Inflate it enough that it takes a round shape, and then test it by sitting on it. If you sink too far down, inflate it some more. When you can finally sit down on it without your hips sinking beneath the plane of your knees, your ball is ready to use.
- Smooth and even surface. Make sure you’re using your exercise ball on a smooth and even surface. An uneven or rough surface can not only make your workout harder than necessary, but it can also produce extra wear and tear on your ball.
- Engage your core. Most exercise ball programs are designed to work out your core muscles and abdominal region. Even if your core is not the main focus of the given exercise, by using the exercise ball you are engaging your core muscles as stabilizers. This means your core will need to be tight throughout the exercise’s range of motion as it will keep your body steady while you work out the primary muscles. Failure to engage your core can result in injury and reduced workout effectiveness.
- Correct form. To keep from falling backward over the ball, sit down on the ball and then inch yourself forward six inches. From this position, when you lean back you will keep your weight on your legs and stay upright. This is the form you will use for the majority of exercise ball workouts.
- Flyes. One example of a popular exercise ball workout is the dumbbell fly. Lean back on the exercise ball with a moderately heavy dumbbell in each hand. Maintaining the correct form as explained in #4, extend your arms out to your side. Hold the dumbbell with an underhand grip. Raise the dumbbells over your chest, keeping no more than a slight bend in your elbows. Return your arms to your sides and repeat. Remember to engage your core.
- Presses. Whether at an incline or a standard flat position, dumbbell presses are another good way to use an exercise ball. Using correct form, press the dumbbells up over your chest with your thumbs inside. When the dumbbells meet, lower them back to your sides and repeat for ten repetitions.
- Crunches. Perhaps the most popular use for an exercise ball involves crunches. Get into correct form with your hands behind your head. Keeping your core tight, crunch your torso toward your knees before lowering back into starting position. Exercise balls are excellent for crunches because the constant tension needed to keep yourself upright goes a long way toward tightening your core throughout the exercise and getting a more effective workout.
- Reverse lower body extension. To perform this exercise ball movement, lay on your stomach on the exercise ball. Position your upper body far enough in front of the ball that you have to hold up your torso with your arms. You’ll know you’re in the right position when your feet are almost off the ground. From this stance, raise up your legs as if you’re trying to kick your heels at the ceiling. Then lower them to the ground and repeat for ten repetitions. To put more stress on your glutes, inch your arms closer to the ball. This will give less leverage to your legs and force your glutes to work harder to perform the lifting.
These workouts are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the full range of exercises available to you on the exercise ball. Follow these guidelines and start with these basic exercises and you will be on your way to using the exercise ball to maximum effect.