The gym ball, aka the Swiss ball, is a long-established piece of kit you see in most gyms and many homes. It’s popular because it’s low cost and highly versatile. So, whatever your level of fitness there are exercises on the ball that will challenge your stability and build your strength.
Follow this simple guide to buying the right ball for you, keep it pumped up and use it every day and you’ll soon have a stronger back which will enhance all other sports and activities you already undertake.
The Bigger the Person, the bigger the gym ball
The key to getting the right ball for you is size. Quite simply the taller you are the bigger the ball you need. Petite people under 5’5” require a small 55cm ball, average height folk ranging from 5’6” to 6’ need a medium 65cm ball and those over 6’ need a large 75cm ball.
Keep it pumped
To work effectively the pressure of air in the ball needs to be such that when it’s used it flattens only minimally at the points of pressure. Most gym balls are supplied with a pump and so you can inflate them and then keep them topped up if and when needed. The best quality balls, such as these brand new Viavito ones, will include inflation instructions and a special tape measure so you inflate your gym ball correctly.
Keep your balls on show
If space is tight in your home, it’s quite tempting to shove your gym ball under the stairs or on top of a wardrobe. Don’t! The brilliance of a gym ball is that you don’t need to have undergone a proper warm-up to use it. Replace your dining chair with a gym ball or sit on it when you watch the box. At first you’ll feel the fatigue set in pretty quickly but within a month of daily sitting on the ball your back will be feeling stronger and your posture will be better than ever.
Work your whole body
Exercise balls are great for the core but they can genuinely strengthen and tone every muscle in the body and work them in a way weights simply don’t.
Here is a quick top-to-toe gym ball workout for you to try – remember to warm up before and cool down and stretch after:
- Chest and shoulders – rest your hands on the floor and your feet on the gym ball. Bend and extend the elbows to perform destabilised press-ups. Try for two sets of 12.
- Triceps and biceps – sit on the ball and rest your hands palms down with your fingers pointed forward. Lift your butt and hover it above ball level. Slowly bend and extend your elbows to perform a dip. Aim for three sets of 8.
- Belly and back – rest your feet on the floor and your elbows at shoulder distance apart on the ball. Assume a plank position and hold for as long as you’re able. Add to the challenge by floating alternate feet off the floor.
- Glutes and hamstrings – lie on the floor with your legs long and your heels rested on the ball at hip distance apart. Lift and hover your hips as high as you can. Keeping your hips lifted, draw the ball towards you by bending your knees and then return to the start position. Repeat 20 times.
- Quads – stand with your back to a wall and the ball between your back and the wall. Bend and extend your legs to roll the ball up and down the wall. Add hand weights for an extra challenge. Aim for 25 reps.
- Calves and shins – stand facing a wall with the ball between your belly and the wall. Flex your ankles to raise your claves and roll the ball up and down the wall. Aim for 20 reps.
Keep it up
The above may not be challenging enough for you if you’re fit, and even if it works for you now after a few months you’ll be in need of new challenges and greater variety. The good news about gym balls is that the sheer volume of exercise you can do is immense! Online resources, classes at your local gym and even a little bit of experimentation will open up the many different ways you enjoy a workout with balls. Enjoy!