The eponymous gym ball or Swiss ball as our European brethren call them is an often-ridiculed piece of gym equipment that has become incredibly undervalued in today’s gym environment. The popular myth is why bother using the ball when you can do the entire workout by yourself?
There is a point here that sit-ups, press-ups and other body workouts can be done without any aides. However, the gym ball is an intriguing device designed by the Swiss army, the same folk that do the knives, as a quicker and more effective aide for entry or rehabilitation exercising.
However these technicalities aside there is a fun-side to the gym ball, how about a blast from the past? Do you remember that great 70s and 80s fad – the space hopper! Think of it that way the next time you see it covered in dust in the corner of the gym?
Let’s look at 6 modular exercises that can help you tone up and lose weight!
#1 – The Leg Stretch
Sit up on the ball with your left leg bent and you right leg remaining out-stretched. Lift your toes and expand your arms upwards. As you do this slowly push forward from your hips whilst bringing your arms down towards your toes which will stretch the back of the leg. Once you have reached this stage – hold it for 30 seconds. Repeat the steps again for the left leg. Do five repetitions (5 minutes altogether). A great lower-body workout.
#2 – Ball Squatting
Place the gym ball between yourself and the wall. Make sure the ball is against the lower back area and always make sure your feet are apart – the same width as your shoulders. Lean against the ball for bodily support, by using your knees slowly lower your body down the wall until you thighs are parallel with the floor. Then slowly push yourself back up the wall to the starting position. Repeat for three to five minutes depending on experience. A great back area workout.
#3 – Swiss Press-ups
Lie on the ball whilst making sure your abdomen is on the ball and your arms are in front of you. Use your hands to walk – as you do this the ball will roll down to the tops of your thighs and then stop. Now place your arms in front of you in the press-up position. From this position do 10 reps three to five times depending on experience. Mini press-ups like these are great for people starting out who haven’t got the upper body muscle to do full press-ups. A great upper-body workout.
#4 – Ball Planking
Start by resting your elbows on the gym ball. Keep your back straight and make sure your feet are wide apart for stability and balance – or for a challenge keep them closer! Now keep the position for 30 to 60 seconds – or until you can’t keep it maintained any longer. This is a great workout for your core stomach area.
#5 – Gym Ball Sit-ups
Start by sitting on the ball with your feet flat against the floor. Next start walking your feet forwards as your body starts to lower until your shoulders, tailbone and back are all resting on the gym ball. The feet, at this point, should be both wide apart and bent around 90 degrees. Take care to distribute your weight evenly on your feet and balance your body fairly on the ball – your back should be positioned at the top of the ball and your hips should be near the bottom. Once you are at this point place your hands behind your head, making sure you pull your elbows tight behind you.
This posture should be maintained for the rest of the exercise. To start slowly curl your torso and abdomen towards your things the back and tailbone should, at all times, remain planted to the ball. Once you upper-back area are off the ball hold the posture then slowly uncurl back to the original position. Repeat the movement five to ten times – or until you can’t maintain the posture. This is a great core workout.
#6 – Swiss Crunches
Lie with your back on the gym ball – tail bone to lower back should be comfortably on the ball. Make sure your knees are bent 90 degrees and if possible hold a weight (no more than 5-10kg) on your chest with both hands crosses. Once you are in this position flex your waist to raise the upper torso area until you feel pressure or tension in your abdomen area. Perform 10 repetitions and pause and then continue for three to five minutes. This is a great abs workout.
Gym balls are inexpensive. A quick search of Google Shopping found 18 different retailers selling them from £8 with free delivery. The gym ball offers a great all-over body workout. If you have the patience, the aptitude and the desire then you can get a lot out of the old gym ball. So why not give it a try?