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The various core exercises you can do make exercise balls good for strengthening your back. Here's a maneuver that itself can make an exercise ball worthwhile. This is especially good for people who spend a lot of time sitting, especially hunched over (like over a computer). When your back starts to tighten up, lie down with your back on the exercise ball and your knees bent, feet on the floor. Let your arms go out to the sides and completely relax, stretching out your back. Then you can roll around a little and give yourself a massage!
Exercise balls are among the cheapest, most popular, and most versatile pieces of fitness equipment. A large, inflatable ball, the fitness exercise ball can be used as a chair or for a variety of exercises. It's especially popular for abdominal exercises and is used extensively by pilates practitioners. It is widely used by athletes and by physical therapists. Some group exercise classes now use exercise balls. Any exerciser can find uses for an exercise ball.
Exercise balls are very useful in strengthening the body's core (hip, ab, and back area). Innovative abdominal exercises can be done with an exercise ball. Back extensions are good for more advanced exercisers. Even sitting on the exercise ball will cause the core muscles to contract. Exercises like the wall squat, where you put the ball between your back and the wall and lower yourself to a sitting position, strengthen your core as well as your legs.
Exercise balls are very popular for abdominal exercises. To start with the simplest, lie on your back and put your feet on the exercise ball, then do crunches. A great exercise is to lie with your back on the floor and your feet on the ball, and then do crunches. This gives a little extra range of motion. For something more challenging, get in pushup position with your knees on the ball and contract your abs so your knees come in and your hips go into a jack knife position. These are just a few exercises you can do with an exercise ball.
You can work on improving your balance with an exercise ball. Whether you're using it as a chair or instead of a bench, the ball will tend to move around, making it an unstable surface. When you work out on an unstable suurface, you automatically adjust your weight to retain stability and keep from falling off. If you want to start easy, you can just sit on the ball and raise one foot at a time. There are many advanced techniques you can do although few of us need to learn to stand on top of the ball.
You can sit on an exercise ball instead of a bench for dumbbell exercises. Biceps curls, overhead presses, and triceps extensions are often done sitting on exercise balls. You can also lie with your back on the ball, feet on the floor, and do dumbbell bench presses or flies. Kneel on the ball for dumbbell rows. You can replace a bench with the ball if you work with fairly light weights, but stick with a bench if you lift heavy.
Exercise balls come in various sizes. Basically, your thighs should be parallel to the floor when you sit on your exercise ball. The best way to choose is to follow the manufacturer's guidelines based on your height. Models are available for almost anyone. Heavier individuals can get one size larger as it flattens out a bit. The balls are strong and some support up to 600 pounds. Kits are available with the ball, stands, tubing, videos, or other accessories.
A medicine ball is quite different from the large vinyl exercise balls. It is small, but heavy, so that a 10 lb medicine ball can be smaller than a volleyball. Medicine balls have been used by athletes for many years, but the new ones are better balanced and more durable. It is traditionally used for upper body power throws. Side throws against a rebounder strengthen your obliques. Hold the medicine ball on your chest or straight up to make crunches more demanding. You'll find many uses for a medicine ball.
The exercise balls popular now are the big, inflatable variety, originally called Swiss balls. Some people even like to use them as a desk chair, as they keep you from slumping. They are probably used most for abdominal exercises. You can lie on the floor with your feet on the ball and do crunches, or keep your feet on the floor and your back on the ball and do crunches that way. You can also sit on the ball while doing biceps curls, overhead presses, or other dumbbell exercises, or lie on it to do bench presses. Using the ball helps develop balance, though you won't be able to use as much weight as if you did the exercises on a bench. Medicine balls are weighted balls about the size of a basketball or smaller that are heavier than they look. These are popular for athletic training and are not the same as the inflatable balls.