Last Updated on February 11, 2017 by Michael Brockbank
A fitness ball can offer a great deal when it comes to health and exercise. In many instances, people use them to replace the chairs at desks. This is because the act of balancing your body while working flexes various muscle groups. It can be a very effective core workout when you don’t have time to properly exercise. Fortunately, there is much more you can do with a fitness ball than just sit on it.
Exercising with the Fitness Ball
There is a long list of things you can do with a fitness ball. Today, I’m only covering my top seven that are easy for almost anyone. These exercises use the non-weighted units, such as those without the sand filling. I’ll cover those exercises at a later date. So, here are my top seven easy ways to give you a great core workout.
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1. Fitness Ball Wall Squat
A wall squat by itself can be quite a grueling exercise. However, adding the ball makes it much easier to accomplish while delivering a great workout for your legs. Essentially, you’ll use the ball to help you travel up and down the wall itself. This exercise will strengthen the quads while putting some work on the glutes and hamstrings.
Place the ball between yourself and a flat wall along your lower back. You want to pin the ball into position with your body. Plant each foot approximately two feet in front of you. This will put you into a slight leaning position while keeping your back straight. Some people will then cross their arms in front of their chest or hold them down to their sides. As your back is straight and head looking forward, you’ll be in a starting position.
Begin by squatting with your legs to bring your thighs into a “sitting” position, which is parallel to the floor. Hold this briefly and push yourself back up the wall. This will count as a single repetition.
For those who want to increase the effort, you can also hold dumbbells during the procedure. Try to do at least 10 reps to start with. If you feel that the exercise is too easy, increase the repetitions for the next set. Personally, I try to do at least three sets with every exercise. Feel free to modify this to suit your personal needs.
2. Fitness Ball Plank
The plank is one of my favorite types of core workout. Adding the ball to the mix reduces the pressure on your arms while making it an easier exercise that anyone can benefit from. For those who want to build their abdominal muscles but don’t have the capacity to do a traditional plank, then this exercise is for you. Abs are the primary muscles you will use in this routine with the lower back and glutes being flexed as well.
Assume a standard push-up position while placing your elbows on the ball instead of the floor. You want to rest your forearms along the ball. Straighten out your legs while keeping your feet apart about the width of your hips.
Begin by raising your body so that you are forming a straight line from your feet to your head. This is similar to holding a push-up position. Hold yourself in place for 30 seconds as you flex your core muscles. If you start to shake while doing this exercise, don’t worry. This is a common occurrence for those who are new to keeping the muscles flexed.
Placing your knees on the floor instead of your feet will help make this exercise easier. This exercise centers around the length of time you hold the plank as opposed to repetitions. Over the course of time, you can increase the amount of seconds during each set as your abs start to build density and strength.
3. Fitness Ball Knee Pull-In
The knee pull-in is one of those exercises that includes a variety of muscle groups to a lesser degree. Although the effort mostly centers around your abs, everything from your shoulders to your thighs are also active. To a small degree, even the lower back will experience use. It’s important to note that moving slowly can help you keep balance on the ball during this exercise. Remember, fitness is not a race.
Place the ball behind you while on the floor. Put your shins on top of the surface while putting your body into a push-up position. Your arms should be extended at this point while holding yourself up off of the floor.
Bring your knees in towards your chest while keeping your back completely straight. Your arms and upper body should still be stationary as you do this. The ball should roll down your shins and across your ankles. Flex your abs as tight as you can while exhaling and briefly hold that position.
Straighten your legs back out while rolling the ball back to your shins. Inhale while moving your legs back to the starting position. This will count as a single repetition.
If you want to get more out of this exercise, you can always go into a pike position while rolling the ball forward. This is when you raise your hips up instead of bringing your knees to your chest.
4. Fitness Ball Glute Kickback
A glute kickback is a very useful routine for those who want to shape their legs and butt. It helps tone the glutes and hamstrings while improving flexibility. To a lesser degree, your core muscles and lower back will flex in order to help keep your balance on the surface of the ball. This is a great workout to help prepare you for some of the more intense routines as you develop muscle tone and mass in your body.
Lay down on the ball with your hands stretched out to help give you support and stability. You want your legs to be outstretched slightly with your feet touching the ground.
Bend your right leg until the bottom of your right foot is facing the ceiling. Push back with your leg as high as you can go as if you were trying to kick the roof. Bring your leg back down and straighten it out.
Bend your left leg in the same fashion and again, try to kick the ceiling. Consider this a single repetition while alternating legs back and forth. You can also do this workout without bending the knees and simply moving your legs back as far as they can go.
One of the biggest reasons why I like this exercise so much is because it’s incredibly easy for just about anyone. Regardless of your body type, it’s an activity that helps improve strength and flexibility over time. As long as you put in the effort to stretch back as far as you can go with each kickback, your glutes and legs will begin to develop.
5. Fitness Ball Glute Bridge
Since a lot of people are concerned with firming and shaping their glutes, what exercise list is complete without the bridge? This is a great way to firm the butt while strengthening the lower back as well as the hamstrings. Because of the balancing that comes with the exercise equipment, you may even get a bit of a core workout just by keeping yourself from toppling over.
There are two different common ways to do this exercise. The first is by focusing on repetitions while the second is more time sensitive. There are convincing arguments for both, but I personally enjoy time-based routines. Because of this, I’m only going to focus on time rather than repetitions. However, you can see for yourself how easy it is to switch between the two.
Lay down on the floor facing upward with your feet on the surface of the ball. Rest your hands at your sides. This is the starting position for the exercise.
Raise your hips up off of the floor and form a straight line from your heels to your shoulders. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then slowly lower yourself back down. The alternate of this part is to raise your hips and lower them back down without holding to count as a single repetition.
This exercise is virtually the opposite of the plank. Instead of keeping your abs flexed as long as you can, it’s your backside doing the majority of the work. This is another one of my favorites because of the simplicity and effectiveness of the glute bridge.
6. Fitness Ball Walkout
The walkout has potential to work on various parts of your body ranging from the shoulders down to your quads, depending on how much you want to add to it. The areas that receive the most work include the lower back, shoulders and abs. However, you can also put effort on the glutes and hamstrings if you keep your legs straight throughout the exercise. Essentially, it’s like doing a plank while walking with your hands.
Place yourself on top of the fitness ball facing down. You want to keep your stomach on the ball while stretching out your arms to touch the floor.
Begin walking with your hands while pulling yourself away from the ball. Let it roll down the body until it reaches your ankles. Pause for a brief moment, and then walk yourself back to where the ball touches your stomach. Try to keep your legs stretched outward as in a plank for as long as you can until you make it back to the starting position. This counts as one repetition.
There are many variations to the walkout such as adding the glute kickback once the ball reaches your shins. Adding other movements to this exercise will undoubtedly benefit those areas of the body while keeping your abs and lower back tense.
7. Fitness Ball Y-Raise
This is perhaps one of the easiest exercises to do on this list. The Y-raise focuses attention on your shoulders. However, keeping yourself in position throughout this workout will also include a slight core workout while adding a bit of effort to the hamstrings and glutes by balancing on the ball. It’s the intensity of keeping yourself in position that makes this exercise efficient.
Rest your stomach on the fitness ball while stretching your legs out. Position your feet approximately the width of your hips. Lift your upper body in order to form a straight line from your heels to your shoulders.
Position your hands below you while facing your palms together. Your thumbs should be pointing upward.
Move your arms up to form a Y from your body and then bring them back down. This counts as one repetition.
You should almost look like you’re trying to fly while doing the Y-raise. If you want to increase the intensity of the workout, wear weighted gloves or lift dumbbells while forming the “Y”. This will bring a great deal of work to the upper back and lats while maintaining the partial-plank position.
And Plenty More Where That Came From
There are lots of different exercises you can do with a fitness ball. Many of them can be altered to suit your specific needs in terms of a core workout. Get more out of your routine and experiment with different ways you can alter the experience. You may develop something perfect for the areas you want to work on.