The Exercise ball is one of the best and unique fitness tools that is out there today. It is also one of the least utilized pieces of equipment. Aquilino Cosani, an Italian engineer, first manufactured the ball to be a toy back in 1963. It wasn't until a physical therapist, Mary Quinton, utilized the ball for children with neurological disorders. The exercise ball did not make it to the US until the 1970 and it seems that the general public is just starting to get aware of its benefits.
What makes the Exercise ball so effective is that it forces the user to use many stabilizing muscle to balance while performing the exercise. This means that more muscle fibers are firing, you are burning more calories and because of the position that you are usually in, it puts a lot of emphasis on your core (rectus abdominis, lower back, transverse abdominis, internal and external oblique's.) And everyone seems to want to have tight abs.
The reason why I wanted to write this article was for one of two reasons. To hopefully motivate to try the exercise ball the next time at the gym or to try an exercise on the stability besides crunches. That is what I meant when I previously stated that this was one of the most least utilized pieces of equipment at the gym. The exercise ball happens to be one most dynamic pieces of equipment at that gives you a huge range of exercise options.
One example would be a basic squat. Position the exercise ball between your lower back and the wall. Move your feet out about 8 to 12 inches. When you squat you want three 90 degree angles. These 90 angles are at your hips, knees and ankles. Your shins and upper body is to be perpendicular and your thighs parallel with the ground.
If this sounds too easy add dumbbells for weight. If adding dumbbell weight is still too easy, extend one leg out and perform single leg squats. There are few people that I know who have the leg strength for this exercise.
A pushup is another exercise that there are multiple options that can per formed with an exercise ball. You can perform this exercise with your hands on the exercise ball and feet on the ground. Added difficulty would be to place your feet on a bench and keeping your hands on the exercise ball.
You can also place your hands on the ground and feet or knees on the exercise ball. To add difficultly you can try diamond push-ups or traveling push-ups. Traveling push-ups is where you move side to side while performing the push-up. You start by doing a normal push-up and then at the top, move the left hand to the right. The right hand then goes out further to the right. You would perform another push-up and move back to the left by moving your right hand to the left and then the left further to the left.
These are just two small examples. There are many, many more. I would like to invite you to do some further investigation on this and try a few of the exercises out. There are thousands of examples out there. The benefits will be a stronger core, possibly quicker weight loss and make your body more functional and less prone to injury.