Round Out Your Workouts with a Stability
By Ian Cohen
From the Million Dollar Body Club - Join Today and Workout to
Columbus had tried to sculpt and strengthen his body back in the day, you'd
better believe he wouldn't have used some FLAT old bench during his workouts.
Unfortunately, historians have seemed more interested in chronicling his travel
exploits than his training methods, so we'll never really know if the man who
discovered the world was round also discovered the roundness of fitness
apparatus. And while there is no evidence that Chris ever attempted to balance
his behind on an inflated ball while fine-tuning his washboard abs, there is
proof that a globular training tool can work wonders for your entire body.
The stability ball (or Swiss ball as it is commonly
called) is rolling into more and more workout spaces, and bringing some
much-needed shape to our typically flat routines. Aside from providing a fun,
new approach to fitness, this plump piece of equipment presents the perfect
platform for strengthening all your muscles, especially the all-important core.
What was once performed strictly on a level surface can now be done on
something more cylindrical, thanks to the advent of this unique training
device. As a matter of fact, the stability ball can be used to perform such
exercise favorites as curls, flys, back extensions, dips, presses, crunches,
and even squats. The truth is, if you can do it on a bench or the floor, you
can do it on a stability ball. But before you end up sailing headfirst through
your living room wall, be sure to follow the specific instructions set forth by
Beachbody's director of fitness and certified personal trainer, Steve
"The reason it's called a stability ball
is because the added energy you need to balance on the ball requires the use of
smaller stabilizer muscles that are often not engaged during your workout,"
says Edwards. "While the benefits are great, this does require you pay closer
attention to what you are doing. Always use a weight that you can easily
control. And don't get caught up in the desire to heft large amounts of iron.
These movements are all about control. It's not about excessive muscle growth,
but balanced muscle growth."
5 Ways to Use Your Stability Ball
- A tighter
- An extra
Never attempt to stand on a stability ball. When using dumbbells during an
exercise on the stability ball, be sure to start off with much lighter weight
than you would normally use on a flat surface. Your primary focus should be
maintaining your balance on the ball. Once you're confident with your balance,
you can gradually increase the dumbbell weight. Keep in mind, you will most
likely never be able to lift as much weight as you can on a flat surface;
however, you will enhance your overall performance by developing stronger and
more powerful core and stabilizer muscles.
- Back Extensions (Focus:
lower back no weights) Place your belly on the ball, legs extended straight out
with toes on the floor. Clasp hands behind your head and allow body to drop
"into" the ball. In a slow, controlled motion, raise your upper body until you
create a slight arch in your back. Return to starting position and repeat.
- Dumbbell Press (Focus: chest
using dumbbells) Lie with your midback on the ball, legs bent at the knees, and
feet firmly on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, slightly above shoulder
level. Press dumbbells straight up toward the ceiling. Slowly lower dumbbells
back to the starting position and repeat.
- Wall Squat (Focus: legs no
weights) Place the ball between your lower back and a wall, keeping feet
hip-width apart. With arms dangling at sides, slowly lower body and squat into
seated position. Stop when your knees are bent 90 degrees. Proceed to raise
your body back up in a controlled manner.
- Curls (Focus: biceps using
dumbbells) Sit straight up on the ball with a dumbbell in each hand. Maintain
your balance and keep elbows in as you curl both arms simultaneously. Lower in
a controlled manner until arms are straight down at sides.
- Crunches (Focus: stomach no
weights) Lie so entire back is resting on the ball. Keep knees bent 90 degrees
and feet flat on the floor. Lock hands behind head and proceed to bring chest
towards your pelvis, until your upper back is off the ball. Slowly return to
starting position and repeat.