Even with all the advancements in the different types of exercise equipment, one of the most effective pieces to utilize during your workout is still an exercise ball. However, far too many guys still think that ab exercises are all that can be done with an exercise ball. That’s just not the case.
When used properly, an exercise ball can increase muscle mass and muscle definition, as well as really enhance your overall agility and stability. If you play any type of sports on a regular basis, the exercise ball is one piece of equipment that you won’t want to neglect.
The following are some of the most effective exercise ball movements that you should incorporate into your training.
Performing chest flys on an exercise ball will heavily engage the chest muscles as they struggle to contract while you are off balance. Additionally, the hamstrings will also get worked to a small degree as they help keep the body positioned directly on top of the ball. As soon as you start to venture off, they will be the first muscles called into action to get you back on top, helping make the chest fly one of the most effective exercise ball movements.
When doing this exercise, be sure that you keep the upper portion of your chest directly on top of the ball rather than letting it slide too far forward or backward, which would entirely change the nature of the movement.
It’s also important that you stay within a comfortable range of motion and not let your arms extend too far downward to the side of the body as this will place higher amounts of strain on the shoulder girdle.
The hamstring curl is great for those who are working out at home, where it can be quite difficult to find an isolated hamstring exercise. Putting the feet up on the ball in this exercise will also call the lower-back muscles into play as they contract to provide support, further adding to the benefits you see from this exercise ball movement.
Finally, if you’re very strong and find the standard version of this exercise poses little challenge, consider performing it with a single leg while the other is elevated slightly above the ball.
Abdominal Russian Twists
If you’re looking to primarily target the oblique muscles, abdominal Russian twists with an exercise ball will be a good movement to incorporate into your program. This will primarily target the oblique and lower-back muscles, however, if you lean farther back, you’re also going to stimulate the abdominal muscles.
Note that this exercise can also be done holding a medicine ball for added difficulty. Only add a medicine ball if you are fully able to move across the full range of motion from side to side with the exercise ball first.
The standard shoulder press is the most effective exercise to directly target the deltoid muscle groups. By moving this onto an exercise ball, you’ll still maintain that high level of shoulder stimulation, but now you’ll also throw the core muscles into play.
Most people performing this exercise will struggle to maintain the upright balancing position, so really focus on squeezing the core muscles as you push the weights overhead. Also, watch that you don’t let the arms move behind the head; this is an indication that you’re lacking control of the movement. Keep your arms along their usual path (in line with your ears) without locking the elbows to prevent injury.
Wall Ball Squat
Finally, the wall ball squat will challenge the lower body very well. These are great for increasing the amount of muscular endurance you have in the leg muscles, which will be helpful if you play a lot of sports that require you to run for longer periods of time.
The movement will still target strength capabilities, however, so there’s a much different type of leg endurance at play than if you had gone for a run.
This movement is also going to hit the abdominal muscles and when doing it, you can place the arms either out to the sides by the wall, right in front of you or straight down. You can also add dumbbells for added weight, but only after you’ve fully mastered the movement.
Go Balls Out In The Gym
While exercise balls will never be a complete replacement for heavy weight lifting, they definitely help improve certain exercises in your workout to increase the benefits they provide. If you’ve never used them before, they can take a while to adapt to, but after a couple of tries you should begin to feel more comfortable.
Source: By Jeff Bayer, AskMen