Gym Ball Exercises
The gym ball is a great tool for exercise, providing a versatile and useful piece of equipment which can be used to target all major muscle groups of the body. Most gyms have a gym ball, but for those who train at home they can be bought for a relatively cheap price. A quick search on the web should provide some decent web sites where gym balls can be purchased. The following exercise can be performed with the gym ball, all of which target a variety of muscle groups.
Gym ball crunch – The majority of gym goers will likely associate the gym ball with a ball crunch, although the gym ball offers a much wider choice of exercise than merely the ball crunch. Nevertheless, the ball crunch is a great exercise for targeting the abdominal muscles.
Begin seated on the gym ball, and then roll the ball backwards in relation to the body, until the thighs are parallel to the floor. Whilst lying back, the back should take to the curvature of the gym ball, applying a stretch to the midsection. The crunch is performed with a limited range of motion, unlike the full sit up which less effective due to greater hip flexor involvement.
Ball squat – The squat is often labelled the king of lower body exercises for a good reason. The squat stimulates the quadriceps, the hamstrings and butt extremely effectively, whilst also allowing for a great aerobic activity if performed in a high repetition range. The ball squat requires nothing more than a gym ball and a wall.
Stand facing a way from a wall, with the gym ball in-between the wall and lower back. Squat downwards so the gym ball rolls slowly up towards the top of the back, until the upper legs become parallel to the floor. Ascend back to the top of the exercise, so the gym ball returns to its original position.
Targets: Quadriceps, hamstrings, butt.
Decline gym ball press up – The decline bench press is a normal press up movement performed with the feet elevated on a platform. The relative resistance is increased when performing the decline press up when compared to the flat push up, as well mimicking the movement of the incline bench press which many argue to target the upper chest region more effectively.
Place the feet on the gym ball, outstretch the torso, and get into a press up position. Perform the press ups whilst the feet remain on the gym ball, with the legs and torso inline. The gym ball is obviously not fixed to the ground, so the exercise will therefore require the recruitment of the core stabilising muscles to ensure stability.
Targets: Chest, triceps, shoulders, core.
Gym ball hip flexion – The gym ball hip flexion recruits the hamstrings, butt, and abdominal muscles. To maintain the position the muscles of the arms, chest and shoulders are also recruited, making this exercise a great all round movement to perform.
Get into the same starting position of the gym ball push up, as described above. The arms remain extended throughout the exercise to support the upper body, whilst the knees are brought towards the torso to roll the ball forwards. The ball should be rolled forward until the feet become in contact with the butt, with the exercise reversed after this point to the start position.
Targets: Hamstrings, butt, abdominals. (Stabilisers: chest, triceps, and shoulders).