An exercise ball is great piece of equipment often used in physical therapy, athletic training and exercise. These balls are also known as Swiss balls, gym balls, fitness balls or pilates balls. They are typically constructed of elastic, filled with air, and have a diameter ranging from 4 to 34 inches. Exercising with a ball provides wide range of benefits as the body responds to the instability of the ball, engaging more muscles. The most frequently used muscles to remain balance are core muscles of the abdomen and back. Therefore, an exercise ball can help to build up strong abdominal muscles.
Choosing the right ball
In order to perform the exercises properly, it is important to choose the right sized ball. When sitting on a ball the feet should be flat on the floor, creating an angle of 90 degrees with hips and knees. The body shouldn’t lean in any direction and the pelvis, shoulders and ears are in a vertical line. It is recommended to choose a ball according to person’s height. People of 6'8" and taller should opt for the largest ball of 85cm. People 5'9" to 6'2" high should choose a ball with 65cm in diameter, while the smallest balls of 45cm suite to people lower than 5'.
Ab exercises with ball
Exercise ball crunches are one of the most powerful classic exercises for abdominals. It is even more effective than the crunches on the floor, since these crunches often involve the legs instead of the muscles. The exercise is performed by positioning the ball under the lower back and crossing the arms over the chest to place them behind the back. The abs contract until the torso is lifted off the ball as the ribcage pulls downward towards the hips. The exerciser slowly returns into the starting position and repeats the exercise. This exercise is repeated for 1 -3 sets of 12-16 repetitions. The exerciser can use dumbbells or a weight plate across your chest for additional resistance.
The bridge exercise
The bridge is another great exercise performed by lying on the back while the legs rest on the top of the ball. The exerciser tightens the abdominal muscles and raises hips and buttocks off the floor to form a bridge. One leg lifts up while the other stays on the ball, for support. This position is held for about three deep breaths before the body returns to the starting position. The exercise is repeated with both legs for 1 -3 sets of 12-16 repetitions.