Are you seeking the ultimate total body workout that can be done at home? Are you searching for the one piece of exercise equipment that does it all without breaking the bank? Do you need something effective but also low impact on your joints? Look no further – the search is over! You need to invest in a stability ball. Stability ball exercises offer the whole shebang! You can tone, strengthen, and stretch every muscle group in the comfort of your own home. The best part is that the cost for one is about twenty bucks. That is less than a monthly gym membership! In this article, you will learn about the benefits of using a stability ball, and we will even give you a starting point for a home stability ball workout. Read on for more!
WHAT IS A STABILITY BALL?
Before we get into the many benefits of using a stability ball, as well as our favorite stability ball workouts, let’s review the equipment. You may have also heard of this very same exercise apparatus referred to as a fit ball, exercise ball, or Swiss ball. A stability ball is the same as any one of these. It is simply an oversized, inflatable vinyl ball that can be used to condition, exercise, and stretch your body.
Variety is the spice of life, right? Well, in this case, stability ball exercises are super spicy. Whether you slam it to the left or shake it to the right (yes, we went there. That was indeed a Spice Girls reference), you can strengthen and reshape your physique with this dynamic yet straightforward piece of equipment. The stability workout ball is extremely versatile and can be used in hundreds of ways. Workout balls also come in many sizes, which adds even more variety to your exercise regimen. When deciding what size stability ball is right for you, you will need to consider which exercises you plan to do the most. Perhaps investing in a set with a few options is a great way to go. After all, stability balls are relatively inexpensive compared to many other exercise equipment on the market.
THE BENEFITS OF USING A STABILITY BALL
As we mentioned above, the stability ball is a fundamentally simple object. It is a ball, plain and simple. Don’t be fooled, though; simple does not necessarily mean easy. Because the stability ball is round, it inherently “wants” to roll away. When you activate your body’s muscles to prevent this from happening, you target a particular (and seldom used) group of muscles, known as your stabilizers. Your stabilizer muscles are essential tools that your body uses to keep your joints correctly aligned. Injury occurs when your joints are forced out of alignment. The stronger the surrounding muscles (stabilizers) are, the less likely this is to occur and the better your balance will be. Therefore, stability ball workouts are excellent cross-training for any other sport.
In addition to strengthening your stabilizers, stability ball exercises target hard-to-reach areas (ahem, hello lower abs, mommy pouch, and saddlebags, we are looking at you). Because you are always fighting (and hopefully winning) a battle with gravity, you are partaking in the remarkably effective form of exercise known as plyometrics. According to Collins Dictionary, plyometrics are defined as “a system of exercise in which the muscles are repeatedly stretched and suddenly contracted.”
In many cases, when athletes or workout enthusiasts practice plyometrics, there is a substantial degree of impact. (We are referring to force on the joints in the body.) As mentioned above, this can easily cause injury. Consider jumping rope as an example. Every time your feet hit the ground, your ankles and knees are hit with force. Over time, this can be damaging. If any of the joints are out of alignment upon impact, the damage or injury can occur immediately.
With the stability ball, you make contact with the ball as it rolls, so you are basically gliding through the motions. While you are targeting and working your muscle groups effectively, you are doing so in a way that is very low impact on your joints.
STABILITY BALL EXERCISES
- Stability Ball Plank: For this exercise, you will begin in a high plank, with your palms on the floor. Be sure to press evenly into all of your fingers. You want to visualize hollowing out your palms so that all of the weight is taken off of your wrists. Make sure your wrists are stacked directly underneath your shoulders. Rest your shins and feet on top of the stability ball. You may find that holding the plank position is enough of a workout for you. If you would like more of a challenge, you can practice a plank to jackknife motion. (You will bend your knees, rolling the ball forward toward your hands. Then return to plank.) Repeat 10-12 times for one set.
- Stability Ball V-Ups: Sit-ups have long been in the mix for working out. With the workout ball added in, you can really amp up the challenge and efficacy. You will want to lay on your back with the ball between your legs and your arms stretched out overhead. Squeeze the ball isometrically between your legs (hello stabilizers!). Lift the ball up with your legs and lift your arms to meet them (no bending, keep them straight). From the profile view, your body should make a V shape. Repeat this motion several times.
- Stability Ball Squats: For the ultimate lower body workout, squats have been on the agenda for all eternity. Ramp up the burn by doing them near a wall, with the stability ball between your back and the wall. When you are standing up, you will want the ball against the exact middle of your back. As you squat down, the ball will roll up higher toward your shoulders. Pressing into the ball will not only create resistance but will also help you to maintain proper form. Repeat several times.