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Over the years, Swiss ball exercises have become extremely popular because they are safe and simple to do. There are a variety of routines that you can perform alone or as an addition to vary your existing workout. Swiss ball exercise routines are usually focused on balance, core strength and conditioning. The main benefit of exercising with a ball is that, in order for you to remain balanced, your body is required to constantly react to the unsteadiness of the ball. This continual balancing incorporates many of your smaller stabilizer muscles, while at the same time targeting your larger muscle groups.
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Choosing a Ball
A Swiss ball is large, heavy-duty, inflatable ball that is manufactured specifically for exercising. They are known by many names, including fitness ball, exercise ball, stability ball, and balance ball. Swiss balls come in a range of sizes and can support the weight of an any average adult. When selecting the size of your ball, you need to choose a ball that allows you to sit on top of it with your knees and hips at a 90 degree angle. Use the following measurements as a guideline to deciding the correct size ball:
- Height: 4’8” to 5’5” = Ball Size: 22 inches
- Height: 5’5” to 6’0” = Ball Size: 26 inches
- Height: 6’0” to 6’5” = Ball Size: 30 inches
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Swiss Ball Exercises
When exercising with a Swiss ball it is important to perform each movement slowly and carefully. You need to maintain your balance and use the correct form at all times in order to train the desired muscles and prevent injury. As you perform the exercises more frequently your muscles will get stronger and your balance will improve. Always start your workout with a light warm up and stretch. Perform each exercise for a set for 10 repetitions. As you execute each exercise, exhale when you contract your muscles and inhale when you extend your muscles. Do not hold your breath. Add additional sets as you get stronger. Take a brief rest in between each set. Cool down after your workout by stretching and relaxing all your muscles.
Wall Squat: Stand up, place your ball against a wall, lean your back against the ball, place your feet shoulder width apart, slowly roll the ball down, lower yourself until your thighs are at a 90 degree angle, slowly roll back up.
Stationary Lunge: Stand up, place one shin on the top of the ball, slowly lower yourself until your front leg is parallel to the floor, return to start.
Back Extension: Kneel in front of the ball, lie face down so the ball is at your upper abdomen, cross your hands over your chest, raise your torso, hold, return to start.
Crunch: Sit on your ball, lean back, walk forward until the ball is on your lower back, look toward the ceiling, put your hands behind your head, raise your torso, hold, return to start.
Oblique Crunch: Kneel down, place the ball on your side, lie sideways on the ball, place your hands behind head, slowly raise your body up sideways by lifting your shoulder, hold, return to start.
Crunch, Reach, Pass: Lay on your back on the floor, hold the ball above your head, begin to sit-up, at the same time raise your legs, pass the ball from your hands to between your feet, lay back down, repeat by passing the ball from your feet to your hands.
Push Up: Place your shins on top of the ball, hands on the floor shoulder width apart, keep your legs straight, slowly lower yourself to the ground until your chest nearly touches the floor, push back up.
Pike: Begin in a push-up position, your shins on top of your ball, hands on the floor shoulder width apart, slowly roll the ball forward, keeping your legs straight, raise your hips in the air until you form a V-shape, hold, slowly roll back to start.
Abdominal Tuck: Begin in a push-up position, your shins on top of the ball, hands on the floor shoulder width apart, roll the ball forward by bending your knees, continue rolling the ball until your knees reach your chest, hold, slowly roll back to start.
These simple exercises with a Swiss ball will strengthen, lengthen, and condition your abs, back and core. Challenge your body by adding this routine to your workout routine to burn more fat and increase muscle tone.
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WebMD: 10 Fun Moves to Reshape Your Body With an Exercise Ball Workout - http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/10-fun-moves-to-reshape-your-body-with-exercise-ball-workout
MayoClinic: Fitness ball exercises: How-to video collection - http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fitness-ball/MY00068
Image Courtesy of: WikiMedia Commons – GeorgeStepanek