Having a Ball

One of my favorite tools for strengthening the core is the stability ball.  But I find that a lot of people are not quite sure what to do on them, other than use them for an office chair, which is not a bad idea.  Here are seven tried-and-true exercises that will work your whole body in a matter of minutes.  And you can do these exercises  every day!  Before long, you’ll be stronger and more flexible. Your strong muscles will help you burn more calories and fat during cardio workouts, and people will be envious of your chiseled abs. Your body will feel good, look good, and stay strong as you age if you simply incorporate a stability ball into your training.

Abdominal Crunches benefit your abdomen and lower back. Sit up straight on the ball with your feet flat on the ground. Place your hands either criss-crossed on your chest or resting behind your head but not pulling on your neck. Tighten your stomach muscles and lean back until you feel a full contraction. Hold this position for a few moments while remembering to breathe. Then, return to an upright sitting position.

Do the Airplane for the mid and upper back muscles with an extra benefit for the buttocks, too. Place the front of your hips on the ball with your toes touching the floor. Let your arms loosely hang in front of your ball. All at once, raise your toes into a position like an airplane tail and your arms like airplane wings. Squeeze your glutes. Hold. Then, return to the original position and repeat.

For your hips and lower back, perform the Body Tuck. Get into a position similar to the airplane except instead of resting your hips, rest your shins and assume a push up position. Roll your legs forward towards your arms until your knees are balancing on the top of the ball and your buttocks are in the air. Sit back making contact between your heels and butt. Go back to push up like position and do again.

Push Ups will work the chest and arm muscles. Place your abdomen on top of your ball. Slowly roll forward, walking on your hands, until your thighs rest atop the ball. Contract your stomach muscles until your belly button feels as if it just might touch your spine. Bend your elbows and lower down to the floor while keeping your head and neck aligned, abdominal muscles tight. Push up. Continue with the set.  For more difficulty, roll your body further forward.  Even going out until just your toes are on the ball!

Quadriceps get a workout with Wall Squats. Stand with your back against your stability ball while it rests on a wall. Roll your back along the ball into a squat position. When you roll back up, squeeze your glutes. Once you have that move mastered, try it with one leg.

Use the Body Arch similar to a bridge position for the hips, abdominal, and pectoral muscles. Rest your middle back against the ball while in a deep squat position. Stretch your arms past your head and lengthen your legs until they’re almost straight. Come back up and repeat.

Work those often neglected hamstrings with the Curl. While on the floor, put your heels and calves on top of your exercise ball. With your arms at your sides, upper back and shoulders on the floor, and abs tight, raise your hips and lower back. Roll the ball toward your butt. To keep the ball steady, dig your heels into the top. Then, roll the ball away from you and start over.

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