I currently do a variety of different exercises, but I was thinking about throwing an exercise ball into the mix. What are your experiences with them, how many exercises can you do with them, and are they worth the money? Thanks!
05-22-2003, 09:55 PM
I havent tried an exercise ball yet but I just read a magazine article today in "First" for 'women on the go'. It said that they cost about $15 and that using one of them is the best thing you can do to lose that part right beneath your belly button. I need that! It said to put the ball between your thighs as you're lying on your back, then to straighten your legs up raising your pelvis slightly for just a few seconds, then repeat. I have no idea how well it works but was thinking of getting one myself. Maybe I'll wait and see if you get any more comments first.
05-23-2003, 11:15 AM
I've been wondering about these balls too. I see them at the gym and don't really know how to use them. I have seen some DVD's that use exercise balls. The only problem I have with it is storage. I do my exercises in my bedroom and the ball is fairly big.
05-24-2003, 04:49 AM
If you have space for an exersize ball, I recomend one. I use one at the gym, as I have no space. I like to use them for back and side exersizes, since it is hard to find another way to do them, especially at home. They are also great for improving balance, as you tend to roll all over the place the first few times you try them. Just sitting on them improves posture. So, I think they are great but storage is definitely a concern.
05-27-2003, 08:07 AM
I store mine in the bathtub. It's out of the way, and then when somebody needs to use the tub, they just pull it out and put it back in later. It's worth it to have the ball to use for sit-ups.
05-28-2003, 12:19 PM
I use my ball to help stretch my back muscles before I work out (rolling backwords on the ball)...It really helps prevent me from straining my back on certain exercises...It also helps with the inner thigh area...it's safer than the thigh master...(I know because I have one)...
Hope I helped...
05-28-2003, 02:05 PM
Are they worth the money???
I say - YES YES YES!!!! :lol:
Check out this article from Krista Scott Dixon...(they're also called the Swiss Ball BTW...)
http://www.stumptuous.com/swissball.html (there are photos at the link...you might wanna check 'em out...)
The Swiss ball is essentially a giant beach ball made of durable vinyl. It's one of the few fitness thingamajigs that is actually useful and, dare I say it, almost indispensable. Not only is it great for abs, but you can also use it in place of a bench for some exercises. If your gym doesn't have one, buy your own and use it at home. At $25-$40, it's a pretty cheap piece of equipment. With that price, and with the ball's wide range of uses, it's definitely money well spent.
The Swiss ball has two advantages: one, it provides an unstable platform on which to perform exercises (greater instability supposedly leads to greater recruitment of stabilizing muscles, thus you theoretically reap more benefits from each exercise); and two, it provides an excellent range of motion for ab exercises. I think the first aspect is a tad overrated, since I don't think there's a whole lot to be gained by substituting the ball for a bench, although it does provide some variety. That being said, I quite enjoy doing chest work on the ball, since the curvature of the ball provides the perfect lateral alignment of my upper body. Nobody else I've showed Swiss ball chest presses to seems to like it as much as I do, so you can decide for yourself whether or not I am just a crackpot on this subject.
Since, as I said, the Swiss ball provides an unstable platform, it will take some getting used to before you will feel comfortable balancing on it. Don't despair; you will get the hang of it. Because the ball is squishy and made of vinyl so it won't slip around, you can actually get away with putting yourself quite off-balance without falling over.
Before you try anything on the Swiss ball, just get comfortable with how it feels. Sit on it, holding on to something if you are really timid. Roll your butt around on it, and feel how you have to balance when you shift your weight. Practice moving your hips from the front of the ball (so that the ball moves up to the small of your back) to the back (so you are sitting on it), and side to side. One thing which helps to maintain balance is to keep your feet relatively wide apart.
Once you've mastered basic balance, take a crack at the exercises below.
exercise 1 - ab crunch
You can see here in the pic on the left one of the significant advantages of using the ball for ab work. I can use a much greater range of motion than I would be able to if I was crunching on the floor. In addition, my abs have the added resistance of being forced to work against gravity. To increase the difficulty of this exercise, I simply hold a plate behind my head. This is a relatively simple exercise to perform.
Begin the exercise by hanging upside down, as shown in the pic on the left. At first, you may not feel comfortable with this position, so it's OK to begin in a position more like the centre pic, but aim to get your upper body as far back as possible. Keep your feet fairly wide apart, as shown, which will help you balance.
Using the contraction of your abs, crunch upwards and forwards, as shown. At the same time as the upper body comes up, tilt your pelvis forward and push your hips up. This ensures a nice strong crunch. Hold for a few seconds, then release, and lower your upper body and your hips back into the starting position. You may have to re-roll yourself slightly back into position with every rep, since the ball may shift a bit under your body during the crunch.
If you find these hard to do, you're not alone. This is a challenging exercise. But it is worthwhile, so do your best to learn it. If you have to at first, have a partner stabilize you by holding your waist.
exercise 2 - reverse crunch
This exercise is a bit harder than the first, but if you can master it, it's a great companion exercise the first. You can do this with someone hanging on to your waist till you get the hang of doing it unassisted. To make the exercise harder, shift your hips closer to the front of the ball, and/or hold a plate between your ankles or knees.
To begin the exercise, lie across the swiss ball as shown in the pic on the left, and grab something behind you. I'm using a square pillar, but this isn't the best choice. The best choice is something that you can actually get a grip on. One of my workout buddies likes to hang on to a regular bench with either someone sitting on it, or with a 45 lb plate on it. Just look around for stuff to grab on to: low railings, parallel vertical bars on a machine, whatever. Bring your feet off the floor, knees slightly bent. Using the contraction of your ab muscles, tilt your pelvis forward, and bring your hips up. Do this slowly, so you aren't tempted to cheat by swinging your legs. At the top of the rep, your legs are perpendicular to the floor. Then slowly lower your legs into the starting position. Don't touch the floor with your feet at the bottom.
There's about a kajillion more exercises you can do with this VERY versatile ball...did a websearch and came up with...
Thank you so much! I did end up buying an exercise ball, and I absolutely love it.
Some recommendations for those interested:
-Make SURE you get the right size. The box will tell you, based on your height, what size you should get. Mine is 55 cm.
-Make SURE you inflate the ball completely. It may seem fully inflated, but you really need to measure it. Mine was only about half inflated at first, which made it hard to do anything on.
-Be sure to do the exercises correctly. Form counts!
Other than that, definitely go out and get one, or buy one from eBay. Make sure it's new and comes with a pump.
07-19-2003, 11:43 AM
here are some links - lower body http://www.mochasofa.ca/health/program/expert/02april29a.asp
here are some basic things:http://ronjones.org/Handouts/stabilityballbasicphotos.htm
here are some upperbody things
these balls are also great to use with yoga and pilates.