You may have seen fitness balls at your gym or underneath your co-workers' desks at your office, but these plastic large bouncy balls are more than what meets the eye. Athletes, dancers and normal gym-goers can all benefit from using a fitness ball in their gym workouts. There are several different fitness ball exercises that work a variety of major muscles when used properly. Working out on fitness balls may seem like a balancing act, but that’s the idea behind their genius.
Fitness balls are readily available in most stores and gyms. If you have room in your own home, purchasing a fitness ball won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Most exercises can be done without the need for any additional equipment. If you are looking to incorporate weightlifting exercises, you may need to purchase dumbbells or medicine balls. Fitness ball exercises are beneficial for maintaining and improving your posture and stability. Your posture is often overlooked when exercising with fixed position equipment often found in gyms. Another added bonus to fitness ball exercises is their ability to banish back pain. Exercises on the fitness ball strengthen the deep muscles of the spine, which is difficult to do with other exercises.
The fitness ball is for all fitness levels. Whether you are a beginner or an elite athlete, you can incorporate fitness ball exercises that are challenging and offer several strength moves. The main muscle group targeted during a fitness ball workout is the core muscles. The instability during different exercises forces your body to engage its core muscles to better maintain balance, which in turn makes the exercises more challenging. According to "Fitness" magazine, those who use a fitness ball on a regular basis improve muscular endurance by 57 percent in as little as 10 weeks.
You can incorporate ab exercises, back exercises, arm exercises and even leg exercises with your fitness ball. Performing a basic crunch on the fitness ball will not only work your upper and lower ab muscles, but also your core muscles as a whole. You can perform fitness ball dumbbell overhead triceps extensions simply by sitting on the fitness ball and using dumbbells for overhead extensions. Bridge workouts for your glutes can also be utilized on your fitness ball, as well as reverse extensions for your lower back. When starting a fitness ball program, complete each exercise for at least two to three sets before moving on to the next exercise. You should perform 12 to 15 reps of each exercise per set. You can also turn the exercise ball into a circuit in order to increase the intensity and burn more calories.
It’s important to make sure you are using the correct fitness ball size and air pressure. The general rule of thumb when finding the right fitness balls is to sit on the ball and make sure your thighs are parallel to the floor. It’s also essential to make sure your fitness ball is fully inflated before using. Fitness balls should always be properly stored. You do not want to store them in a hot environment because the air inside may expand and burst the ball.
Danielle Clark has been a writer since 2009, specializing in environmental and health and fitness topics. She has contributed to magazines and several online publications. Clark holds a Bachelor of Science in ecology and environmental science.