||Worked Out With
A Swiss Ball Yet?
Are you bored of endless sit ups, press ups and treadmill runs as part of your cardio routines? I have a fun alternative solution, namely Swiss ball training. Swiss balls can train your entire body with innovative moves that can sprinkle a breath of fresh air through monotonous workout drills.
Often used in Pilates you may know them by alternative names: exercise balls, yoga balls, balance balls, gym balls body balls or sports balls. But whatever name you call them they are as versatile as a Swiss army knife. They therefore can be used in lots of different ways to target muscles all over your body.
So how do they work?
A Swiss ball allows you to improve your stability and coordination due to the nature of the ball being unstable in the first place. It is aspherical in shape and therefore will move about in all directions forcing you to counteract its momentum so you don’t fall off.
This works your core, something that every workout publication and training program seems to be obsessed with. The core is so important since it is like the central hub that connects your entire body. A strong core bullet proofs your back and will work wonders for your waistline and can also increase your agility.
How a Swiss Ball Enhances Muscle Development
As you use a Swiss ball consistently over a period of time, your muscles will start to develop rapidly to handle the stress of the new workload. This occurs as the individual core muscles gradually lengthen and become used to contracting on demand. It’s no wonder that the mammoth 350 pound plus contenders in the World’s Strongest Man contest attribute much of their success to having a strong core.
If you need to lift anything heavy the abdomen has to tighten like a belt to prevent a lower or upper back injury. A lot of the body’s strength also originates in the core, so whether you want to be super-sized or super skinny, core training is essential.
But traditional exercises like sit ups, planks and ab crunches don’t cut it anymore. They do not isolate your abdomen enough, and have a lot of assistance by the surrounding muscles. That’s where new accessories like balance balls come into play. They help you specifically target the parts of the body that have been previously difficult to hone in on.
Full Body Workouts
However, these balls can be used to target more than just the core muscles of the body, which include the abdominal muscles. The outlying muscles of the hips and shoulders can also be trained. An exercise called Swiss Ball Prone Push-ups will engage these extra areas plus if it’s the first ever exercise you start out with, it will allow you to become acclimatized to the ball.
Here is one of many variations on how to perform this exercise:
To begin, lie on top of the ball facing forwards (prone). Gently roll your weight forward so that your feet rest on the rear of the ball and your hands take the traditional push up position at the front. Just like a traditional push up, press your weight upwards from the floor.
Start of by doing 10 repetitions of the exercise and build up until you can do 20. If it is too easy for you work up to 5 sets of 20 reps then shorten the rest between the sets down to 30 seconds.
You should feel the exercise in your shoulders, triceps and also your abs. For an increased stretch in your abdomen area tighten your abs on the way down. This will build up killer abs if you keep at it for a few months.
Here is a video of the exact exercise sequence:
Like all things new, getting accustomed to a Swiss ball can be cumbersome, especially if you don’t have good balance to begin with. The trick is to make small movements when starting out and increase them gradually. Over time you will become more proficient. Once your muscles start to build up some strength and your mind to muscle connection is established the movements will get easier.
The next time you see one of those oversized balls in the corner of your gym, take one on.
About The Author
Frank Turuso is a full time gym instructor. You can catch up with his favorite treadmill workouts here: http://treadmillreviewers.net
Here is a demonstration of another type of workout on the Swiss Ball that requires strength, balance and agility: