While free weights and resistance machines should be included in your home gym equipment, don’t underestimate the value of an exercise ball. This inflatable ball is carried by the best sports equipment stores and can be used to add new life to traditional exercises as well as provide some variety to your workout. Here are three exercise ball workouts that you should make an integral part of your overall fitness regimen.
The Wall Squat
This exercise requires nothing other than a mat, the ball, and some empty wall space. When performed properly, this exercise helps to work the lower back and legs. You are also likely to feel some impact on your midriff. Start by placing the ball between the middle area of your back and the empty wall. A good position is the portion of your back that’s just below the shoulder blades but above your natural waist. If the ball is near the small of your back, it’s too low. Your stance should have your feet slightly further away from the wall than your torso. In effect, you are leaning on the wall while it rests against the wall. Make sure your feet are placed at a distance roughly in line with your shoulders. Clasp your hands in front and keep your upper body as straight as possible while you slowly lower yourself into a squatting position. As you move into the squat, don’t allow your knees to extend further from the wall than your feet. Hold the squat for a count of ten, then begin to slowly return to your original position. Start with a set of ten repetitions and add a few more each week. You’ll be surprised how many you can do by the end of a month.
The Balancing Push-Up
This exercise is intended to work your core and add a twist to an exercise that you already do. In fact, you will find this exercise allows you to think twice about the need to buy exercise rings. Place the ball at the end of an exercise mat and kneel directly in front. Position your feet and ankles on the ball and then extend your body until your hands are directly under your shoulders. From there, you will lift your upper body using your arms and hands just as you would do with a standard push-up. The fact your feet are elevated on the ball creates more tension on your abdominal muscles and allows you to work the core even as you are working your upper arms and shoulders. Try ten repetitions at first and add more as you get the hang of balancing on the ball.
Leg to Arm Pass
This exercise requires you to stretch out on an exercise mat. Hold the ball in your hands in a position that is a couple of inches over your torso. Slowly lift your legs and extend your arms until it’s possible to grab the ball with your legs. Lower your legs and arms until your shoulders and ankles are an inch or so from resting on the mat. Hold for a count of ten and then reverse the process to return the ball to your hands. Keep going for at least ten repetitions for the first week. After that, feel free to add more to your workout. Now is the time to buy an exercise ball and begin reaping the benefits. Along with providing something new and different to your home workout, you’ll find that many of the exercises are as much fun as they are beneficial.