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Have a Ball While You Work Out

You’ve probably noticed when you joined your local gym that there were all kinds of balls (shapes, sizes and colors). I’m sure you’ve seen them aimlessly rolling around the gym, or sitting all by themselves in a corner somewhere. They are an underestimated, underused tumbleweed that get used more as a giant basketball than for exercises.

June BernardUsing an exercise ball can be a remarkably beneficial way of improving muscle tone and balance. It’s also a valuable tool to add variety to your workouts while targeting different muscles.

If you like to work out at home, purchasing an exercise ball is a rather cheap investment for your exercise equipment buck. It’s an incredibly versatile piece of exercise equipment, it doesn’t take up much space and it can be purchased at a very low cost.

If you are someone that gets bored easily, using an exercise ball will be the perfect addition to your workouts! The ball allows you to switch things up or do a variation of an exercise so you don’t have to repeat the same workout over and over again. Why do you think personal trainers love to use them so much with their clients? There’s always another level, a way to make an exercise harder or a new exercise to be learned.

You can use an exercise ball to do something as simple as stretch your muscles or you can use it to do an abdominal exercise (basic or advanced). Champion’s member June Bernard, (as shown in the picture) is doing a basic crunch on a sixty five centimeter resistance ball. She has enough support from the ball on the low back to do the crunch, but enough instability to give her abs a great workout. Exercise ball abdominal crunches primarily target the rectus abdominis. This muscle group is responsible for flexing the lumbar spine. Also targeted are the transverse abdominis, which are used to compress the rib cage and are important for stabilization of your core.Mike Bidwell

Take a look at the photo of Champions Fitness Center personal trainer Mike Bidwell. He is doing a medicine ball pushup. The offset hand position forces his shoulders, chest, and core to stabilize his body while he does the pushup. The side the ball is on works through a longer range of motion, increasing muscle stimulation. Doing any variation of a pushup with a medicine ball makes the exercise more difficult and the instability makes your core muscles work harder than they would if you were just doing a basic pushup on the floor.

Kathy SeeThe Bosu Ball

A Bosu ball is a balance board that can be used with either side up. Both sides of it, the inflatable dome or the flat plastic surface, provide different challenges for your muscles.

Not only do you strengthen your major muscles such as your quadriceps, hamstrings, biceps and pectorals with the Bosu, but the unstable surface also strengthens the smaller, stabilizing muscles. This improves overall strength. The stabilizers keep your knees from giving out during a squat, your elbows from collapsing during a pushup and your ankles from rolling during a lunge.

If you’re looking to tone your legs and challenge your body with something new, give Bosu ball squats a try! This kind of squat will utilize an incredible amount of stabilizing muscles and is an excellent way to work all of the muscles in the upper legs and your core. It’s a lot harder than it looks because it requires a lot of control and balance.

Take a look at Champion’s member Kathy See who is standing on the flat side of the Bosu ball. To increase the intensity of the exercise, she’s holding a seven pound medicine ball out in front of her body. Anytime you use more of your body’s muscles at one time, you’re getting more out of your workout (and your personal trainer).

Follow the instructions below to learn how to do Bosu ball squats:

  1. Grab a Bosu ball and put the ball on the ground, leaving the flat surface up.1
  2. Slowly place one foot at a time on the Bosu ball and stand up straight.
  3. Slowly lower to a squat position by lowering your butt down and activating your quads.
  4. Using your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, raise up to a standing position.
  5. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.


Did You Know?

Did you know that even when you are just sitting on a resistance ball; it engages the body’s stabilizer muscles? This is because you need to use your abdominal and back muscles to keep your balance on the ball. So, the next time you’re at the office or home studying for an upcoming exam, try using a ball for a chair! Hey, every little bit counts.

The Rule of Thumb

The rule of thumb is; the further away the ball is from the core of your body, the more difficult maintaining your balance will be. For example, when doing a push-up on a resistance ball, putting the ball underneath your upper legs makes doing the push-up much easier because the ball is closer to your core. If you want to make the exercise more difficult, all you have to do is roll the ball out towards your feet so it’s further away from the center of your body. Now, maintaining your balance is going to be much more of a challenge.

In Conclusion:

Have a ball when you work out! There’s really no finish line when you use one. They can be used for low-impact aerobic exercise, stretching and all kinds of different strength training workouts.

Working out with an exercise ball takes traditional strength training to a whole new level, and it’s an amazing balance-training tool. So, don’t stare at it, turn your nose up to it, or kick it across the gym. Pick up that gym ball and get to work!

Did you or someone you know become noticeably healthier, stronger, leaner, and more physically fit from a new commitment to exercise? Go to Champions Fitness Center on Facebook, request us as a friend and share your personal success story! Inspire others to get in shape! We want to hear all about it.

I am currently certified by the National Sports Conditioning Association, Apex Fitness Group, and the International Sports Science Association. If you have a question and/or topic you would like me to discuss please e-mail me at isellgraphs@aol.com. If you would like to set up a free consultation with one of our certified fitness professionals please call Champions Fitness at 452-5522.

Jess LaCelle