Have a ball while you work out with the Swiss ball. This common gym tool does more than help you get chiseled abs; it also increases your muscular strength, endurance, balance and flexibility. The Swiss ball is also known as a stability ball or physio ball. The ball’s inherent instability helps engage and overload your muscles, which increases your muscular strength and range of motion in your joints.
Selecting a Ball
At the gym, there may be several brightly colored Swiss balls from which to choose. Balls come in sizes ranging from small to extra-extra large. You want to select a ball that when you sit on it, your knees and hips bend to a 90-degree angle. Always use the ball on a clean, smooth surface that is free of debris or sharp objects. It might be best to work out on a mat to cushion any potential falls.
Adding in a Swiss ball to your core workout works out these muscles better than traditional floor exercises, according to the “Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy” in 2010. After studying more than half a dozen Swiss ball exercises, it was determined that the roll-out and the pike exercises were the most effective moves for activating your core muscles.
Turn your normal strength-training workout into a killer multitasker with the Swiss ball. The Swiss ball makes exercise moves less stable, which forces your body to recruit extra muscles to keep you upright. Adding the ball to traditional free-weight exercises, such as the chest press and bicep curl, activates your trunk muscles more than stable-based exercises, according to the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” in 2005.
By combining your core and strength-training exercises, you can get a full-body workout with the Swiss ball. This increases overall muscular strength and endurance. Begin with a five- to 10-minute cardio warm-up before tackling the ball. Then design a workout that hits all your major muscle groups. An example is ball pikes, shoulder bridges, reverse extensions, dumbbell flyes, overhead triceps extensions and crunches. Do 12 to 15 reps of each exercise. Aim for up to three sets. Do this workout two to three times a week on nonconsecutive days.
- American College of Sports Medicine: Selecting and Effectively Using a Stability Ball
- Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy: Core Muscle Activation During Swiss Ball and Traditional Abdominal Exercises
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Trunk Muscle Electromyographic Activity with Unstable and Unilateral Exercises
- American Council on Exercise: Stability Ball Workout
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.