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If you are looking for a home routine that does not take up much room, only requires one piece of equipment and has huge benefits for your stability and flexibility then I would suggest you look no further than an exercise ball. I intend to show you five routines below that are proven exercise ball exercises for beginners. These will allow you to work out the entire body.
What is an exercise ball?
Firstly I have not known a single piece of equipment to be known by so many names – Essentially we are talking about a round rubber ball from 45cm (18″) to 85cm (33″) in circumference which is robust enough to be sat upon.
You may know it by one of the below names:-
- Exercise ball
- Swiss ball
- Balance ball
- Stability ball
In the early 1960s, an Italian toy maker Aquilino Cosani made and sold the first balls and the “Space hopper” and they have been over the years used by Physical therapists, medical specialists, and fitness professionals ever since. The exercise ball solves physical problems as well as preventing the problem in the first instance.
How to choose the right size?
Study the above chart and choose the closest fit to your height and purchase / choose a suitable ball. Do not be too concerned if it feels too large or small because you can adjust its feel by increasing or decreasing its hardness.
- Hardball = More stability required / more intense workout
- Softer ball = Less stability required.
Now you have a ball we can move onto some exercise ball exercises for beginners – These are set out in no particular order and can be grouped into a single work out – completed three times a week or complete a single exercise every day with two rest days a week.
If you are looking to perform a routine three times a week I would recommend creating every minute on the minute or even three sets as quickly as possible this will push your motivation and ensure you are keeping your intensity as high as possible.
Start with five times each exercise eg:-
- Five times push up on the ball
- Five Sit-ups
- Five Leg lifts
- Five Squats
- Five Bridges to hamstrings
- Repeat three times
Or complete as many of a single exercise every minute – once the minute is over move to the next exercise – Every workout or week aim to either increase the number of repetitions you can complete or increase the overall time taken to complete. Eg:- Week 1 – 5 minutes (5 x one minute of each ), Week 2 – 7.5 minutes (5 x one and a half minutes), etc
Benefits of using an exercise ball
exercise balls are an excellent way to offer stability without being too stable and therefore encouraging your body to work. This effect ensures increased demands upon your core compared to using solid objects eg: chairs or benches to support you during push-ups and leg extensions. In comparison, the ball can be used as a Yoga aid too safely aid stretching while ensuring you get the maximum benefit from the routine.
Push up on the ball
The push up on ball will work your arms and shoulders. When you start to keep the ball close to your hips and use a softball but as you get stronger you can increase the distance from the ball and make it more firm.
The push up has two variations
- Hands-on the ball
- Feet on the ball
The first “hands on the ball” being the easiest to perform
- Lie face down on your ball and place your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart
- Tighten your abs – by breathing deep into your belly and pushing down
- Hold the ball as still as possible (this takes time)
Once you find this easy or every other day switch this up by placing your “feet on the ball”.
This exercise is performed by again keeping your abs tight ensuring you keep a straight back and do not flare your arms at the elbows.
Sit up on the ball
An exercise I find that I use more often than I wish to think about – The simple yet effective sit upon a ball – I actually use my ball in my home gym as a kind of resting station and this can become very fun to watch after a particularly strenuous workout.
Remember SOFT Ball = Harder
- Sit on the top of the ball and let your self slide down the side of the ball so that your legs are parallel to the floor
- Place your hands lightly behind your ears
- Move your elbows towards your knees in a smooth motion without pulling on your head or neck
is a superb and fun exercise – It is as easy as it sounds –
- Lay on the floor grasp the ball between your feet and lift it in the air
- Touch the ball and lower back to the floor
- Watch how fast you move – because the ball particularly if pumped up hard will have a tendency to want to fly across your room
Assisted ball squats
As easy as Ball squats sound they are great for functional fitness and if you find them easy please see air squats within –
Bodyweight exercises and a good transition move.
- Place an Exercise ball against a wall so that your back makes contact with the ball and the ball makes contact with the wall.
- Perform a squat while maintaining contact with the ball and the wall
- Ensure your bum moves below parallel and stand up
This assists me with achieving proper squat form particularly for my ankles and has shown benefits for my future progression toward front and back barbell squats.
Bridges to hamstrings
The benefits of this exercise are that while it is working your thighs and hamstrings. It is also working your core and lower back which makes it a particular favorite.
- Lay on the floor with you feet resting on the exercise ball
- Move your feet so your soles rest on the ball. Raise your hips off the floor and contract your bum and hamstrings
- Use your hands and arms on the ground for stability
I would suggest either progression up to bodyweight exercise for beginners. Otherwise, id investigate workouts with Half stability balls, Balance boards, or Bosu balance boards.
If you wish to suggest additional exercise ball exercises that you enjoy please feel free to add your comments below. I enjoy hearing about and share in other people’s experiences and journeys.
Owner and author at shortandintense.com , 25 years as a quality and health and safety professional with an in-depth knowledge of functional and corrective exercises. IHoS registered,lead auditor, personal trainer and human movement specialist.