Tag Archives: stability ball

The Stability (Exercise) Ball

This time of year, I find it amusing with all of the fitness and exercise tricks that are released and pushed on to consumers. Particularly, the fitness equipment that “you can’t be fit without”! When it comes to exercise equipment, the error is never in the product itself, but rather how it is sold and used. No product in and of itself is never a solution, just perhaps a creative, ingenious way to accomplish the task. Case in point, let me tell you about a simple exercise tool that on the surface looks like something kids would play with (they do and they love ‘em; so do the dogs) and is part of 90% of my fitness programming: the stability or exercise ball, aka the fitness orb.

A Little History

The stability ball was developed in 1963 by Aquilino Cosani, an Italian plastics manufacturer. It had first been called a Swiss ball after American physical therapists saw techniques used in Switzerland with great successes. Since its introduction here in the States, the stability ball became a stalwart piece of equipment used in physical and athletic therapy settings before it became popular in the fitness realm. Now, every gym, studio, or anywhere where fitness is conducted at least one of these balls can be found. But are the worth it?

The Science

Despite its popularity and wide spread use across the fitness continuum, very little research has ever been conducted. What’s more, most of the purported benefits such as greater core strength, balance training and increased strength have never been proved. Furthermore, the benefits of just sitting on the ball have never been proven either unless used in conjunction with other exercises which I will further explain. So what gives? Remember what I said previously? The error is never in the piece of equipment but rather how it is used. I will stand by and fully endorse the use of the stability ball so allow me to explain.

The Benefits

Due to its round nature, the stability ball is unstable; it moves and rolls. Instability will always recruit more muscles than just the primary muscles. EMG (electromyographic) studies have proven that. Stabilizing or secondary muscles are more highly recruited aiding in more total muscle activation. This “stabilizing” is what separates the stability ball from a lot of other unstable training devices. They can safely be used from the very young to the very old. The balls come in a variety of sizes from 45 – 85 cm and are generally prescribed based on the height of the individual but can easily be adapted to any size regardless of the individual’s height. So while just sitting on the ball will do very little, adding a movement or exercise to that seated position will yield results. Taking it a step further by adding more advance type movements like push ups off of the top of the ball or abdominal movements done with the both feet on the ball and even the most basic looking exercise can be that much tougher.

The stability ball is just a tool, an option or way to add more variety to your current workout routine. The possibilities are endless and with some creativity, safe and effective exercises can be accomplished with the stability ball. Just ask anyone of my hundreds of clients who have used them through the years. Never under estimate its use and when utilized properly, it can be just what you’re missing.

Til next time. Train smart, eat well, and be better

12 Days of Fitness 2018: Day 2 – 10 Pieces of Equipment Everyone Needs to Work Out at Home

(This is part 2 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

With the New Year quickly approaching, some of you may be thinking about your new workout routine and how to stay as consistent as possible to hit all your fitness goals. Perhaps you’re going to join a gym or start working towards that first 5K. But have you ever really considered training at home? For one, it’s incredibly convenient. Two, there’s no need to know how to use all of that equipment. Three, it’s your house, your rules. I could go on and on about the benefits of exercising in your own home but one thing is for sure, with the small purchase of a few essential and cheaply priced items, you’ll have more than you’ll ever need. And for one more, they’re also highly portable which means you can take them wherever you go.

  1. Stability Ball I can not say enough about the effectiveness of stability, or exercise balls. This item is first on the list for a reason. It acts as a serious core training device but can also be used as a bench/seat for a multitude of exercises. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MYSFUVZ/?ref=exp_loc_pl_jeffreysharrison
  2. Resistance Bands Resistance bands are an excellent way to get a full-body resistance workout in without ever touching a dumbbell. These bands address an important component of resistance training, the eccentric movement, and help make the possibilities of your workout endless.  https://www.performbetter.com/First-Place-All-Purpose-Exercise-Band
  3. Medicine Ball Medicine balls are a great mode of resistance for building core strength and coordination. There is a wide range of exercises that can be done with one and come in many varieties. (i.e. those that bounce) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00R3N0BDS/?ref=exp_loc_pl_jeffreysharrison
  4. Exercise Mat Exercise mats are absolutely essential to your home workout collection. The exercise mat allows you to do endless floor exercises comfortably and travel really well. https://www.performbetter.com/First-Place-Folding-Gym-Mat
  5. Jump Rope Simple and basic, the jump rope is great for conditioning and coordination, and can be an amazing tool for high-intensity interval training. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07881CYCK/?ref=exp_loc_pl_jeffreysharrison
  6. Kettlebell Kettlebells are unique and simply amazing. They are a great tool for functional exercise that combines strength and cardio. Kettlebells recruit more stabilizer muscles than dumbbells and barbells because of their off-centered weight. An absolute must-have for your home gym. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0061ZLTYY/?ref=exp_loc_pl_jeffreysharrison
  7. Foam Roller Foam Rollers are a great tool for self-myofascial release. The foam roller helps break down lactic acid, aids muscle soreness, increases flexibility and mobility, and helps you recover faster to get back to training. https://www.performbetter.com/search?keywords=foam%20roller
  8. Pull-Up Bar Pull-ups are the best exercise for building overall upper-body strength and quite possibly the hardest bodyweight exercise to build up to doing with no assistance. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Pure-Fitness-Multi-Purpose-Doorway-Pull-Up-Bar/26909661?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=0&adid=22222222227019597489&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=40331928872&wl4=pla-78294396392&wl5=9007392&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=8175035&wl11=online&wl12=26909661&wl13=&veh=sem&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI18K9tJPu3gIVE-DICh2X0QzGEAQYASABEgK72vD_BwE
  9. Dumbbells The quintessential piece of resistance, dumbbells provide a much greater workout let alone selection of possibilities than any barbell. https://www.performbetter.com/First-Place-Rubber-Encased-Hex-Dumbbells
  10. Ab Roller Wheel Quite possibly the best method of training the abdominals. There are many spin offs or alternative options but don’t be fooled. This one is the best. https://www.performbetter.com/Exercise-Wheel

BONUS: 11. Weighted Vest

I’d feel odd if I didn’t throw the weighted vest on this list as an honorable mention. The weighted vest isn’t for everyone, but those looking to add hands-free resistance and a lot of difficulty to their workouts will enjoy this. https://www.performbetter.com/Uni-Vest-Weight-Vest

See you tomorrow for Day 3 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – Weight Loss Once and For All