The unstable nature of the ball makes it super effective on working your core while increasing strength. There are a hundred different ways to use training balls; here are five:
Stability ball sits. Using a properly sized exercise ball, sit on the ball while working at your computer, reading, or talking on the telephone. Simply by doing this for 15-20 minutes at a time during these activities will help you strengthen your abdominals, low back, and hips. Additionally, ball sits will encourage a more erect and correct posture in other activities.
Abdominal crunches while sitting on the ball. These add intensity to standard ab crunches because they force you to use your "core” or stabilizer muscles as well as simply using your abdominal muscles. These include hips, legs, lower back, and other postural muscles. Abdominal crunches on the ball also give you a much more intense workout in a shorter period of time than standard floor crunches. Best of all you can do them at your desk, or even watching t.v.
Traditional strength exercises, e.g.., push ups, dumbbell exercises, and lower body squats using the ball as a way to add intensity. Even using an exercise ball to balance on (either upper or lower body), you can involve many more muscle groups using simple exercises. For instance, performing a standard pushup but placing your hands on the ball will add elements of balance and involve additional muscle groups than standard pushups.
Relaxation and flexibility-anywhere, anytime. Most of us spend too much of our time working with our brains without giving our bodies a much needed break. Using an exercise ball to perform lower back, shoulder, and chest stretches during a work break has several benefits. It brings blood that has pooled in the extremities back into your torso and increases blood flow to the brain to improve concentration. So much of our lives are spent in stressful situations, many of which we are not designed to do. Giving yourself 5 minute breaks to stretch and relax using an exercise ball will improve circulation, relieve tense muscles, and even promote better sleep.
Balance. Many of the recreational activities that we enjoy like skiing, golf, tennis, require an element of balance that we seldom have the time to work on while balancing everything else in our lives. Using the ball for one-legged wall squats, and single leg ball sits, etc. can have a tremendous benefits for the muscles used in a variety of sports. Best of all, these can be performed in small segments of time (5-10 minutes) in gym, home, even work settings.
A training ball is a great investment for any exerciser from a professional athlete to those of us simply looking to improve our bodies for the activities we enjoy. For more exercises, check our gear guide.