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Working Out With a Rubber Ball

written by: CatNorth • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 5/23/2011

Discover exercises you can do at home or at the office with a fitness ball. Get a complete low-impact workout and follow up with simple stretching exercises using only a rubber ball and your own body.

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    Working out with a rubber ball is especially beneficial for those who work long hours at a desk or for people who travel. Fitness balls are light weight, easy to inflate and deflate, and convenient to transport and store. You can perform many types of exercises with a fitness ball, and just sitting on a rubber ball for a period of time will engage and work muscles, especially your abdominal muscles. Also, stretch and build up balance with exercise ball workouts.

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    Prepare and Warm up

    First make sure your exercise ball is properly inflated. When you sit on it, the rubber ball shouldn't flatten out too much, but it shouldn't be so inflated that you can't sit on it comfortably either.

    Start with a slight ball bounce to engage abdominal, leg, and feet muscles. Avoid bouncing too high and work to control the bounce. Hold your ab muscles in, but remember to breathe. Continue to breathe throughout your ball workout to supply your muscles with plenty of oxygen.

    Next work on pelvic tilts. Roll back slightly on your ball with your legs on the floor in front of you. Pull your ab muscles in as you curve your back. Release by slightly rolling forward on your ball and continue to roll forward until you can arch your back slightly. Repeat pelvic tilts until your core feels more relaxed.

    To release more stress and tightness in your core, complete several pelvic circles. Use your legs and buttocks to roll your exercise ball underneath you in a circular motion to the right. It’s not necessary to move your upper body for this exercise. Reverse the direction of the roll to the left. Complete as many pelvic circles as you need for warming up the core and the rest of your lower body.

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    Leg Lifts

    From a seated position on your exercise ball with legs square in front of you and feet on the floor, lift the right leg straight up several times. Don't extend your leg but raise your knee straight up in the air with each leg lift. Remember to engage your core and breathe with each movement. Switch to lifting your left leg several times.

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    Leg Extensions

    From the same seated position, lift and extend each leg out in front of you several times. Exercise one leg at a time or alternate leg lifts. Exhale on lifts and inhale when the leg is lowered.

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    Ball Walk

    From a seated position, use your legs and feet to walk your lower body out in front of you and roll down on your rubber ball. Lie flat and keep your upper body on the exercise ball. Your hips and buttocks should be off of the ball and slightly lifted. Keep core and buttock muscles engaged while your body is extended. Next, walk your body back up to a seated position. Repeat this ball walk several times. As you get used to the exercise, later on make it more challenging by moving quicker through the up and down positions of the walk and placing your arms across your chest.

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    Ball Lifts

    Lie flat on the floor or a mat. Hold your exercise ball between your legs at your feet or ankles. Keep your knees bent and lift your legs up and down repeatedly to exercise your abs and inner thigh muscles. Repeat several times and exhale each time you lift your legs upward.

    Incorporate leg extensions from the same prone position. Instead of lifting your legs upward with bent knees, extend your legs outward while still holding the ball with your ankles or feet. Next, pull your legs in toward your chest and shoulders without releasing the ball. Extend your legs out again and pull them in again repeatedly while steadily holding the ball. This exercise works your core, buttock, back, inner thigh and other leg muscles. Exhale during leg extensions and inhale when you bring your legs back in toward your chest and shoulders.

    Release tension after the exercise by resting your legs on the ball and rolling them on the ball from side-to-side.

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    Abdominal Curls and Crunches

    Work deeper ab and back muscles with exercise ball crunches and curls. Walk your feet and legs out in front of you again from a seated position. Then from a balanced prone position, place your hands back behind your neck and head for support and lift your body straight up to curl your ab muscles. Your back and shoulders should be on the rubber ball, but your buttocks should be off of the ball slightly with muscles engaged. Keep your buttocks slightly lifted during ab curls. Alternate slow ab curls with faster ab crunches. Repeat curls and crunches several times until you feel a slight burning in your ab muscles. Remember to breathe throughout the exercise and avoid pulling on your neck and head with your hands. Lift side-to-side for side curls and crunches.

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    Floor Side Crunches

    Move to the floor or a mat and set your exercise ball beside you. Place your side on the ball but keep your legs on the floor to support you. You can use your arms for support but try not to roll forward or backward. Extend your legs out to the side. Balance between your legs and the ball. You can keep one leg bent on the floor for better support also. Begin performing side crunches by lifting your upper body upward slightly. Make sure you’re only bending sideways each time; don’t bend forward or backward. After several side crunches, carefully move off of your fitness ball and sit on the floor or your mat again. Place your ball on the other side of you and move into position to perform floor side crunches on the opposite side. Repeat several repetitions on each side and work on balance and breathing.

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    Floor Side Leg Lifts

    From a similar position, with legs and feet extended out to your side on the floor and with one side of your body leaning on your fitness ball, lift the outer leg up and down several times. Balance your body between one leg and the rubber ball during this exercise. You can bend the supporting leg for better balance. You may also need to place one hand on the floor or another stable object directly in front of you for support, but remember not to roll forward or backward during the leg lifts. Switch sides and perform several repetitions of the side leg lifts with the other leg.

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    Stretches

    From a prone position on the floor or a mat, rest legs on your exercise ball in front of you. Keep your arms by your side for support and lift your hips and buttocks upward. Hold and release several times to relieve muscles in the lower body. Breathe deeply through the movements and try not to tighten or strain your neck muscles. Next, rest your legs on the ball in front of you and roll it back and forth gently to further stretch and relax lower body muscles.

    Stretch your arms and back out next after working out with a rubber ball. From a kneeling position on the floor or a mat, place your fit ball directly in front of you and hold on to it. Begin rolling it forward and extend your arms. You should feel more of a stretch in your arms and back as you move the ball further away from you.