Exercise ball workouts offer a gentle way to improve your strength, balance, and stamina. Very effective for toning muscles, the act of preventing the ball from rolling away during a workout engages muscles we don’t commonly use.
Exercise balls, AKA fitness balls, can be utilized in many basic exercises that may already be a part of your fitness regime. Doing these exercises on the unsteady surface of a large inflated latex ball will work your muscles hard, while cushioning and supporting the area you are exercising. This makes the exercise ball the perfect piece of fitness equipment for someone who is new to working out or recovering from an injury.
Fitness ball exercises can be done pretty much anywhere. Find a clean, level, non-slip surface, away from direct sunlight and any heat sources or sharp objects that could damage the ball, and you will be good to go.
Whether you’re looking for exercise ball workouts for your core, abs, arms, butt, glutes or total body, all are possible, and more. In fact, with over one hundred different exercises able to be done on a ball, there are sure to be some to tone the muscle groups you wish to focus on.
In this article, we will look at how to choose the right exercise ball. We will cover how to inflate it to the correct size, and 5 of the best exercise ball workouts you can do.
How to Choose an Exercise Ball
Before you can start doing fitness ball exercises you will, of course, need to buy an exercise ball, and it’s important to choose the right size. One way of doing this is to go to a sporting goods store, and try some balls for size. Sit on a ball, and if your hips and knees make a right angle with the floor, look no further.
It may not always be possible to test the ball in this manner. Maybe there are no sports stores near you or you are too busy to get to one. This is not a problem. Exercises balls come in a range of sizes to suit everyone from the shortest to the tallest person.
Determining the right sized ball is simple. Read the print on the packaging or search online for this information, then select a ball that is recommended for your height. I bought my exercise ball this way, and the sizing is spot on.
The recommended sizes are as follows:
People 4′ 6″ and under – 30cm diameter
People 4′ 7″ to 5′ – 45cm diameter
People 5′ 1″ to 5′ 5″ – 55cm diameter.
People 5′ 6″ to 6′ 2″ – 65cm diameter.
People 6′ 3″ and over – 75cm diameter
*Please note that not all manufacturers offer exercise balls in every size listed above. Sizes may vary slightly between brands.
Inflating your Exercise Ball
Once you have your exercise ball, you can start doing some exercise ball workouts.
Before you begin, you will need to inflate the ball. Most come with a hand pump, so inflating the ball will just be a matter of removing its plug from the valve, inserting the tip of the air pump hose into the valve and pushing down repeatedly on the air pump. Do this until the ball’s diameter is the size recommended in the guide that accompanies the ball. It’s important not to over inflate it, so don’t guess. Use a soft measuring tape or a piece of string to check its diameter.
While slight variations may occur from brand to brand, a 55cm ball is usually inflated to 68″, a 65cm ball to 80″ and a 75cm ball to 93″. Once the ball is inflated, remove the hose from the valve, quickly reinsert the plug and you’ll be ready to start exercising.
10 minute total body exercise ball workout
Is there a Technique to doing Exercise Ball Workouts?
When undertaking any form of exercise, it’s important to warm-up first. A good warm-up for exercise ball workouts is to do some simple stretches.
As you exercise, maintain proper form so as not to place strain on your back or neck. Usually this will entail keeping your back straight and not hunching your shoulders or pulling on your neck. It’s also important not to lock your knees, as this could result in a muscle strain.
Finally, don’t forget to breathe. It’s amazing how many people do.
5 of the Best Exercise Ball Workouts
Here are five of the best exercise ball workouts which will tone you up quickly. Give them a try. I think you will be surprised at their effectiveness.
Push-ups – tones the triceps and anterior deltoids
- Center your abdomen on an exercise ball, with your palms flat on the floor in front of you.
- Walk your hands forward to a plank position, allowing the ball to rest anywhere between your hips and ankles. It should be in a position that will provide a challenging push-up, but still allow you to keep your spine in alignment and ears, shoulders and hips lined up.
- Bend your elbows, lowering your body towards the floor, engaging your abdominal muscles and making sure not to let your shoulders hunch up towards your ears.
- Return to your starting position, using resistance.
- Repeat these movements 8 to 10 times, doing 1 or 2 sets.
*To increase the challenge, do the exercise with the ball positioned closer towards your ankles.
For an even greater challenge, push up with your hands on the ball and your toes on the floor.
Squats – tones, the glutes, hips and thighs
- Stand with an exercise ball cushioned between your lumbar region and a wall. Press the ball into the wall slightly while keeping your hands either by your sides or on your hips, your feet hip width apart and slightly in front of you for balance.
- Bending your knees and hips, slowly sink into a sitting position, keeping your knees over your ankles and making sure the ball does not lose contact with your lower back.
- Return to a standing position, again making sure the ball is touching your back the entire time.
- Repeat the exercise 8 to 15 times, doing 1 or 2 sets.
*To make the exercise more challenging, do squats with one foot lifted an inch or two off the floor, alternating legs.
Birddogs – tones the abs, buttocks and lower back and improves balance
- With hands and knees on the floor, center an exercise ball underneath your abdomen.
- Lift and extend your right arm and left leg at the same time, reaching as far as you can while staying balanced on the ball, your hips squared for support.
- Repeat this sequence 8 times, alternating legs. Do 1 or 2 sets.
*To increase the challenge, hold the position for longer.
Hamstring Curls – tones back of thighs and glutes
- Lie face up on the floor with an exercise ball beneath your calves, your arms by your sides, your palms facing downwards.
- Squeeze your glutes, lifting your hips up until your body is in a straight line from your shoulders to your heels.
- Bending your knees, move the ball towards your buttocks until your feet are flat on the ball.
- Roll ball back to your starting position by straightening your legs, allowing your body to lower to the floor
- Repeat 8 to 15 times, doing 1 or 2 sets.
*To make the exercise more challenging, lift your hips higher.
For an even greater challenge, lift one leg towards the ceiling and do single leg curls keeping your hips stable throughout.
Crunches – tones the entire abdominal area
- Lie face up with your middle back on an exercise ball, your feet flat on the floor shoulder-width apart, and your hands behind your head.
- Using your abdominal muscles, lift your upper body off the ball, being sure not to engage your neck or use your hands to pull yourself up.
- Lower your body to the starting position.
- Repeat 8 to 15 times, doing 1 or 2 sets.
*For more of a challenge, do the crunches with the ball positioned lower down on your back.
For a greater challenge still, do the crunches with one foot off the floor, alternating your feet.
Exercise Ball Workouts Summary
Never underestimate the effectiveness or versatility of exercise ball workouts. Being so low-impact, this form of exercise can be undertaken by people of any age or fitness level.
Exercise balls aren’t expensive to buy and ball workouts are fun to do. You can focus on just one or two muscle groups or do total body workouts. Either way, along with improving your muscle tone, you will also improve your strength, stamina, balance and coordination.
If you’d like to try fitness ball exercises, click the link below to shop for an exercise ball on Amazon.