Tips for Exercising on the Ball

The fitness ball is a popular and widely available tool you can utilize to help clients get results. Try these suggestions to freshen up and make the most of their workouts on the ball. 

Incorporating Pilates Principles
To enhance any exercise on the ball, use Pilates principles such as breathing, concentration, control, balanced muscular development, rhythm/flow, whole body movement and relaxation.

Working the Core
What type of exercises will help strengthen the core? Try adding arms to the abdominal curl on the ball. Also, the “single arm reach” is one of my favorite exercises for strengthening the core, including internal/external oblique, shoulders and upper back.  Sit on the ball with both feet firmly planted on the floor. Arms reach forward at chest height. Start the basic ab curl, move one arm down and behind you with a torso twist. Arms working in opposition will challenge core strength and stability.  
        
Fat Burning on the Ball
To help your clients work up sweat in a minute, add the ball to cardio movements. Move the ball side to side and up and down while marching.  Add any variety of movements familiar to you such as step touch or twist and reach the ball overhead. Your clients will burn more body fat and experience a whole body workout.   

Using the Wall
Try exercises such as squats, lunges and pliés while working against the wall. Consider adding dumbbells to the arms.  One of my favorite exercises in the ball series against the wall is the split lunge.  Place the ball against the wall, press your low back against the ball and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Step forward with one leg, back leg heel off floor. With legs apart, inhale and bend both knees. Maintain strong core and best leg alignment. Exhale and straighten both legs. The support of the ball and wall will help your clients stay focused, improve lower body strength and increase awareness of overall body alignment.

Quick Tips for Ball Exercises
1. Place a sticky mat under feet while seated on ball to prevent slipping. 
2. Choose a smaller ball for side lying, prone and supine work on the floor.
3. Choose a softer ball for a more challenging workout with less stability.
4. Select a firm ball for the most support for back and abs and more stability.
5. Sit closer to the edge of ball, rather than center of ball, for a more challenging workout.
6. Sit on the ball with your hips level or slightly higher than your knees.
7. Choose a larger ball for a larger surface to work with for larger clients.

For more suggestions on helping clients burn fat while using the ball, see Lizbeth Garcia’s book and DVD on this topic in the IDEA Education Store.

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