For a full-body workout without the expense of a gym membership, check out the classic combo of balance ball and hand weights. You've probably seen balance balls -- or exercise balls -- hanging out in your gym. The vinyl orbs are durable and bouncy, made to support your weight and take a beating. Check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine, then put the hand weights and balance ball to work to reach your fitness goals.
Balance ball exercises are well-known for engaging the abs, but by adding a set of hand weights, you can target your biceps and triceps -- pecs and deltoids, too -- for overall toning and balance. Tackle dumbbell presses and overhead triceps extensions while lying atop a buoyant balance ball. Grab a set of hand weights or dumbbells to tone your upper body. If your muscles tire after doing three sets of 12 reps, you've found your ideal weight limit. If you cannot do at least two sets, lower your limit. As you tone, gradually increase the weight you lift.
Designed to help your posture and balance, the bouncy exercise ball naturally tightens your core. Mix in those weights with quirky named moves such as ball hop and balancing act from "Fitness" magazine. Get the most out of your core exercise by buying the right size ball. Balls come flat, but once inflated your feet should rest comfortably on the floor. Watch that your knees and thighs form a flat tabletop, or 90-degree angle.
Pancake glutes, saggy quads and hamstrings are no match for a pair of weights and a balance ball. Stick to exercises that use hand weights because ankle weights can cause strain. Try wall squats, placing a ball between your back and the wall. Hold a set of weights in your hands, keeping them dangling at your sides. "Fitness" magazine's energetic step 'n' go move tightens your leg muscles, hips and even your arms and core.
Consideration and Scheduling
Start out with three sets of 12 of each exercise, or enough to feel fatigue in the muscle your toning. Remember, if you cannot do the recommended sets and reps, reduce the weight. Try higher hand weights in a week or two. Check your form, as well. Your form can make or break a workout. Don't let the simplicity of a balance ball fool you. You'll still need a five- to 10-minute warm-up to prevent injury. Try a combination of jumping jacks and jump roping to warm up your whole body before working on the exercise ball with weights.
- American Council on Exercise: Stability Ball Dumbbell Press
- American Council on Exercise: Stability Ball Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension
- Consumer Reports: Get In Shape On the Cheap
- Fitness: Toning Exercises for a Stability Ball -- Ball Hop
- Fitness: Toning Exercises for a Stability Ball -- Balancing Act
- Spine Health: About Exercise Balls
- MayoClinic.com: Walking with Ankle Weights? Stop!
- Fitness: Toning Exercises for a Stability Ball -- Step 'n' Go
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Warm Up, Cool Down and Be Flexible
Having studied at two top Midwestern universities, Catherine Field holds degrees in professional writing and patient safety. Writing since 2000, Field has worked with regional newspapers while publishing fiction online. She conducts medical communication research at a Midwestern medical institution and is slated to write a book based on her research findings.