Whether you are just beginning an exercise program or you are a long-time gym member, using an exercise ball will help you challenge your body in new ways. Using an exercise ball properly in your workout will help strengthen your core stomach and back muscles, increase balance and posture, and help maximize and maintain flexibility. Unlike a chair or exercise bench, an exercise ball is an unstable environment that will make your body use new muscles. Once you learn a few basic positions on the ball, you can start doing exercises with free weights while sitting, laying down or standing against the ball.
Choosing the Right Ball
Use your height to find the correct-sized ball from the following: a 55 cm ball is best for a person that is 5 feet to 5 feet, 5 inches tall; a 65 cm ball is best for people 5 feet, 6 inches to 5 feet, 11 inches tall; and a 75 cm ball is best for those who are 6 feet to 6 feet, 3 inches tall.
Make sure the ball is burst-resistant and designed to handle maximum weight limits.
Inflate the ball according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It should be firm, yet bouncy.
Sit on the ball with a straight back, feet firmly planted on the ground with knees and hips at a 90-degree angle.
Pull your shoulder blades back and gently squeeze them together.
Tighten your abdominal muscles and sit up as tall as you can.
Sit on the ball with your feet hip-distance apart.
Walk your feet forward as you lean your upper body back onto the ball. Roll yourself out until your neck is supported by the ball and you are in a lifted bridge position.
Press into the heels of your feet and lift your hips up level with your body. Keep your stomach and buttocks muscles tight.
Place the ball to a wall at the height of your lower back.
Stand with your shoulders back, stomach muscles pulled tight and the arch of your back up against the ball. Your feet should be placed a little wider than your hips.
Take a step so that both feet are about 2 feet away from the wall. You should feel like you are leaning against the ball with your back comfortably supported.
Tips and Warnings
- Once you feel comfortable in these three positions on the ball, you are ready to take it to the next level. Books and DVDs can help you start a regular exercise ball workout.
- Always check with your doctor prior to starting a new exercise program, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or are pregnant.
About this Author
Korene Graham has been in the fitness field for the last 10 years. After earning her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, as well as many other fitness certifications, she has enjoyed teaching and training people of all ages. In her writing, Graham’s love for fitness inspires others to live a healthier life.