A topic that is largely stigmatised and seldom spoken about, is one on using a fit ball to exercise. To the guys reading this, I know you’re probably thinking that they’re ‘girlie’ and no man would be caught dead using one.
Seriously though, I use one every second or third workout and they are NOT a gimmick by any stretch of the imagination.
If you want to improve all your lifts (yes guys including bench press), read on
Janelle Waters a Holistic Lifestyle coach over at NESH will run you through what you need to know about training with fit balls and also, how they can be used in situations where gyms and other hard-to-find equipment are scarce.
In this post Janelle will outline the first workout in a series involving this underrated piece of gym equipment. Here, the workout won’t be utilising any added free-weights. (Stay tuned for those exercises in coming weeks).
Clint: Why in the hell would you use a Fit Ball?
Janelle: The Fit Ball/Swiss Ball/Exercise Ball is a must-have in your box of exercise equipment.
You can work your whole body on the ball – any exercise you would use a bench for, you can use a fit ball instead.
Clint: But why a fit ball instead of an exercise bench?
Janelle: Well for starters, it is an unstable base of support, which means that if you are doing a seated dumbbell shoulder press on the fit ball, you are not only working your deltoids, but your core muscles and stabilisers too.
Even just sitting on the fitball is engaging your core muscles and stabilisers. Without this, you’d fall right off
Clint: So you get more bang for your buck with a fit ball?
Janelle: Yes. The beauty of using the fit ball in your exercise regimen is that you’re doing two exercises for the price of one. This is great for the time-poor. For example, by adding a hip raise and lower to your chest press, you are now working your deep abdominal muscles, spinal stabilisers and gluteals, as well as your target muscle – the pectorals.
By exercising on a fitball, you will often correct and improve your exercise quality. The ball will roll or wobble if you lose good posture/form.
Working out on a fit ball has the following benefits
1. Back health Strengthens spinal stabilisers and structures responsible for back health and injury prevention
2. Improved postureBalancing on the ball builds postural awareness and strength
3. Core stability Your deep abdominal and spinal muscles which form a belt around your spine are strengthened
4. Mobility and flexibility For freedom of movement
Ok, so now you know how to use a fitball as part of your normal exercise routine by substituting a bench when you do pecs and shoulders, but what about for those of us who missed a workout, or didn’t make the gym today and feel guilty?
This workout is for you.
Fit Ball Workout #1 (body weight only)
Do the below list of exercises one after the other as a ‘circuit’. This should form part of your fatloss routine, so keep the intensity high. Remember, the firmer your fit ball, the more difficult each exercise will be.
Aim for 3-4 of these ‘circuits’ if you can muster the strength. 12-15 Reps each time is the go and remember to avoid resting in between each one.
Circuit x 3-4
#1 – Wall Squat
Begin this exercise in standing with your feet shoulder width apart, your feet facing forwards and a fit ball positioned between a wall and your lower back. Slowly perform a squat, keeping your back straight. Your knees should be in line with your middle toes and should not move forward past your toes.
#2 – Hamstring Curls
Begin lying on your back with a ball under your legs. Keeping your back straight, slowly bend your knees tightening the back of your thighs (hamstrings). Then slowly return to the starting position. Once this is too easy, the exercise can be progressed by putting your arms across your chest, making it harder to control.
#3 – Push ups (legs/feet on ball)
Begin this Exercise in the push up position with your feet on a fit ball. Keeping your back and neck straight and the ball still, slowly straighten your elbows until they are straight, tightening the chest muscles, then return to the starting position.
#4 – Jackknife
Begin this exercise with your hands on the floor, your back straight and your feet on the ball. Keeping your back straight, slowly bring your knees towards the floor while maintaining a slight curve in your lower back until your knees are below your hips. Slowly return to the starting position.
#5 – Prone single leg lifts
Begin this exercise lying over a fit ball. Slowly lift one leg, keeping the ball still and your knees straight. Then slowly lower your leg and repeat on the other side.
Janelle Waters has been in the health and fitness industry since 1995 and has worked as a Personal Trainer, Nutritionist, Boxing/Fitball Instructor, and as a Corporate Health Club Manager.
Not surprisingly, she holds a long list of qualifications.
Read more about Janelle here
Exercise pictures are from physioadvisor.com.au
Editor’s Note: Are you an advocate for fit ball exercise? Do you train with them all the time? Leave your insights in the comments below and remember to check back for more fit ball exercises using free weights in coming weeks.