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Get on the Ball for Fitness

Authors:
  • author name Samantha Ross, PTA
Man on back with feet on exercise ball

Is your current exercise routine getting a little easy or repetitive? Looking to add a more dynamic challenge to your current home workout without dishing out too much cash or finding space for big, fancy equipment? Say hello to the versatile, affordable and easy-to-store fitness ball—also called a stability or physio ball.

Keep reading to find out how a fitness ball can:

  • Challenge your arms, legs, core and low back muscles
  • Improve balance, coordination, muscular and cardiovascular endurance
  • With just a few exercises, enhance the stability of every joint you are exercising

First Things First: Choosing a Ball Size

Choose your ball size based on your height:

  • People shorter than 5’4” - 55 cm ball
  • People taller than 5’4” - 65 cm ball

Inflate your ball until it is firm, but still has a little give to it.

Glute Bridges + Hamstring Curls

Targets glutes (buttocks), hamstrings, quads and core.

Lie on your back with your heels on the ball, legs straight, and your hands at your sides. Squeeze your buttocks and lift your hips off of the ground until your body is straight – keep your abdominal muscles tight. Hold up to 5 seconds then lower slowly. Repeat until challenged.

demonstration of exercise 1

To add a challenge for your hamstrings, squeeze your buttocks and lift your hips off of the ground until your body is straight. Keep your abdominal muscles tight and your hips level. Bend your knees and roll the ball toward you. Then slowly roll the ball back out away from you to the starting position. Keep your movement controlled. Repeat until challenged.
demonstration of exercise 2

Wall Squat

Targets quads, glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors and core.

Put a stability ball between your back and a wall and walk your feet out a few small steps. Squat down and keep your groin open so your knees are wider than your hips. You don’t have to go any deeper than a 90-degree knee bend. Your knees should be behind your toes and the depth should be pain free. Hold the position for 5-10 seconds. Keep your knees outward and push through your heels as you return to standing. Repeat until challenged.

demonstration of exercise 3

Plank + Circles

Targets abdominals, obliques, spine stabilizers.

Kneel on the floor with your forearms on the ball far enough out in front of you so your body is at an angle. Hold for up to 30 seconds. Repeat until challenged.

For an extra challenge, balance on your toes (instead of your knees) or make small circles clockwise or counter-clockwise with your elbows on the ball. Perform 5-10 reps each direction. Be sure to keep your abdominal muscles tight and your pelvis level.

demonstration of exercise 4

Push Up + Tuck

Targets triceps, pecs, shoulders, lower back, quads, core abdominals and obliques.

Lie on your stomach on the ball and walk forward until ball is just above knees. Keep your body straight and complete a push-up in slow movement. Keep your abdominals tight and your body straight—don’t arch your back. Increase the challenge by walking your hands forward to move ball closer to your feet. Perform a few reps until challenged.

To perform a tuck, pull your knees toward your chest, rolling the ball up toward your hands. Slowly return to the staring position. Keep your abdominals tight and keep your movement controlled throughout. Repeat until challenged.

demonstration of exercise 5
demonstration of exercise 6

High Knee Ball Taps + Mountain Climbers

Targets cardio/heart rate, arms/shoulder stability.

Hold the ball out in front of you at chest height. Run in place, bringing your knees up to and tapping the ball. Increase your speed to increase the challenge. Work up to 1-3 minutes. Perform until challenged and increase your time as you improve.

demonstration of exercise 7
demonstration of exercise 8

Put your hands on the ball far enough out in front of you so your body is at an angle. Keep your hips level and bring your knees toward the ball. (Put the ball against a wall to make easier until you get stronger). Increase your speed to increase the challenge. Work up to 1-3 minutes. Perform until challenged and increase your time as you improve.

Important Notes about Fitness Ball Exercises

You can find many other ideas to challenge yourself if you search, but keep these two things in mind:

  • It is important to perform stability ball exercises with proper form and posture, and perform movements in a controlled manner.
  • Always consult with your doctor or physical therapist to make sure it is appropriate for you to begin a new program.
author name

Samantha Ross, PTA

Samantha Ross, PTA, is a physical therapist assistant at Lancaster General Health Norlanco. A graduate of Central Penn College, Samantha’s areas of interest include general orthopedics, sports medicine and spine care. She enjoys getting people of ages back to their optimal level of function.

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.

 

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