Training with stability balls is a great way to build strength and balance. Stability balls, often referred to as Swiss balls or exercise balls, provide you with an unstable surface and make even the most basic exercises an extra challenge to your neuromuscular system. The balls are a staple in many professional and collegiate training rooms, because they help athletes prepare for being constantly off balance when they're participating in their sport. People of all physical abilities and ages can benefit from training with a stability ball.
Before you begin, be sure to select a ball that's the correct size for you. You'll find that traditionally there are three sizes of balls available and you should use the one that's appropriate for your height. A person between the height of 4'11" and 5'4" should select a 55 cm ball. For those between 5'4" and 5'7", a 65 cm ball is ideal. People who are between 5'11" and 6'7" tall would do best to opt for a 75 cm ball. If you're unsure about which size of ball to select, sit on the ball and check the angle of your knees and hips. Both should be at 90 degrees so that your thighs are parallel to the floor.
If you're just starting out, begin by doing 1 to 2 sets of 10 to 15 reps of each exercise. After a few workouts and when you feel more comfortable, try to shoot for 3 to 5 sets.
For the Chest, Shoulders and Triceps: Stability Ball Push-up
Lie face down with your belly atop the stability ball and hands and toes in contact with the floor. Walk your hands forward until the ball rests below your shins. Contract your abs to keep your torso taut—it should be parallel to the floor. Position your hands on the floor so that they're in-line with your chest and set just slightly wider than your torso. Bend your elbows and allow them to flare out to the side to lower your chest. Continue until your elbows are bent to 90 degrees and then push off the floor and straighten your arms to return to starting position.
For the Glutes, Hamstrings and Lower Back: Stability Ball Leg Curl
Lie on your back on the floor with your legs extended and calves resting atop the stability ball. Your arms should be on the floor, perpendicular to your torso. Contract your glutes to lift your hips off the floor as high as you can and then bend your knees to roll the stability ball in toward your hips. Pause for a moment before extending your legs to roll the ball out and complete the rep.
For the Glutes and Legs: Stability Ball Wall Squat
Stand about 3 to 4 feet away from a wall. Place the stability ball against the wall and hold it into place with your lower back. Your feet should be set hip-width apart with toes pointed forward or slightly outward. Keeping your torso upright and head facing forward, bend your knees to roll the ball down the wall and lower your hips toward the floor. Continue until your knees are bent to 90 degrees and then extend your legs to rise back up and complete the rep. For an extra challenge, on the last rep, hold the down position for as long as you can before extending your knees to finish.
For the Abdominals and Hip Flexors: Stability Ball Plank and Knee Tuck
Get into the same position that you used for stability ball push-ups. Your shins should rest atop the ball, hands positioned on the floor below your shoulders, and torso parallel to the floor. To perform the stability ball plank exercise, contract your abdominals and hold this position for time. Begin with 30 seconds and add time as your strength develops.
To do the knee tuck, from the push-up position, tighten your abs as you pull your knees in toward your chest to roll the ball up under your hips. Hold for a moment before extending your legs to roll the ball out to starting position.
For the Abdominals: Stability Ball Reverse Ab Curl
Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet up off the floor. Squeeze and hold the stability ball between your calves and the back of your thighs. Extend your arms out to your sides so that they're perpendicular to your torso. Pull your knees in toward your chest until your hips and the stability ball lift up off the floor. Control your hips back to the floor to complete the rep.