You can use your fitball for cardiovascular, strength, flexibility and balance training. Storage of the ball can be tricky due to the size, so get used to seeing it as a part of your decor, or store it in the shower when not in use. Other names for the ball include stability ball, exercise ball and Swiss ball.
Selecting the right size ball is an important first step in your fitball workout. Many of the balls are sold by height, so check the recommended size on the ball's package before you use the tool. If you don't have access to the size chart, you can physically test the size of the ball for a perfect fit. Sit on top of the ball with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. You have the proper size ball when your hips and knees are bent at 90-degree angles.
Many workouts show people sitting and bouncing on stability balls for cardiovascular exercise. While this may be effective, the American College of Sports Medicine does not recommend bounding on a fitball due to the risk of muscle and joint injuries. Instead, hold onto the ball between both hands and lift and lower it as you march in place, side step or front kick. You can also drop the ball as you bounce and catch it doing other aerobic-type movements such as knee lifts, or grapevines. Aim to do your cardiovascular workout for a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes on most days of the week.
Use your fitball to improve your muscle tone and strength. Situps on the ball are an effective way to tone your abdominal muscles. Pushups on the ball tone your upper body, and squats with your ball between a wall and your back tone your lower body. You can also use the fitball in place of a weight bench for exercises such as dumbbell chest presses, chest flyes or triceps extensions. Do strength training three times a week with at least a day of rest in between workouts for muscle recovery.
Balance and Flexibility
The addition of a fitball to your workout will improve your balance. As you sit on the unstable surface, your core engages to keep you in an upright position. You can sit and lift one leg at a time to challenge your balance. Your ball can also help with stretching exercises. Sit on the ball and extend one leg at a time as you fold forward over that leg to stretch the back of your thigh. Or, lie with your back over the ball and hands and feet on the floor to stretch the front of your body. If you hold the ball behind your back between your hands, you'll stretch your chest. Hold each stretch for at least 15 to 30 seconds for daily flexibility benefits.
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.