Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Five Creative Ways to Use a Stability Ball

The stability ball is a great tool for strengthening the core, but there are so many other exercises you can do with it. Here are five fun exercises that you can use to work the entire body using this incredibly versatile piece of equipment.

The Exercise: Rollouts
Targeted Muscles: Abs, back, chest and ats

The Movement: Bend your elbows at 90 degrees and place them on the top of a stability ball. Place your knees on the floor so that your knees, hips and shoulders are in a straight line. Engage your abs and open your shoulders, pushing the ball forward away from your body. Roll the ball out as far as you can without breaking the straight line between your knees and shoulders. Engage your abs and upper body, and then roll the ball back toward your body.

Challenge: For an added challenge, place your feet on the floor instead of your knees.

The Exercise: Bulgarian Split Squat
Bulgarian Split Squat
Targeted Muscles: Glutes and hamstrings

The Movement: Place the ball against a wall. Stand facing away, about 2 to 3 feet from the ball. Place the top of your left foot on the ball, so that you feel a slight stretch in your left hip flexor. Keep your shoulders square and chest up, and engage your core. Once balance is established, bend your right knee, keeping your right knee directly over your foot so that your shin remains vertical. Go as low as you can. Push through your right heel and stand back up. Repeat 10 to 15 times, and then switch legs.

Modification: To modify the exercise, start with a half squat, just to establish balance. You can also place the ball in a corner to prevent lateral shifting of the ball.

Challenge: If you have great balance and want an extra challenge, try this exercise without a wall behind the ball. As you lower, push the ball back with your foot, and then as you stand back up, pull it back in to starting position. You can also try holding on to dumbbells for more glute/hamstring activation.