Ever tried to tone your abs by doing what seemed like endless crunches? If so, you might want to add a stability ball to your. A stability ball, also called an exercise ball, allows you to do a number of exercises that efficiently strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles, and it’s also a good way to stretch out your torso and improve flexibility.
How a Stability Ball Is Used
A stability ball is a soft, lightweight ball that can range in diameter from 30 to 85 centimeters (about 12 to 33 inches). Your height determines which size ball you use. The stability ball is designed to stretch and tone the abs, which are part of the body’s core. It can also be useful throughout the rest of your workouts, since you can use it to support your body while lifting dumbbells or performing squats. Using the stability ball for support while lifting weights or toning the lower body will improve your balance and indirectly strengthen the abs.
Stability Ball: Getting Started With Exercises
There are several exercises you can do with a stability ball:
- Stretching. Lie on your back with the ball underneath you to stretch the abdominal muscles. Lie on the ball on your stomach to stretch back muscles, or lie on your side to stretch side muscles. You can also sit on the ball with your legs and feet in front of you to stretch out leg muscles. Consult with a trainer or follow the manufacturer’s instructions to learn how to use the ball to stretch properly.
- Lift weights. Use the ball to give yourself support, balance, and a greater range of motion while you lift weights. You can lie against the ball on your back or your chest and do free-weight exercises with the support of the stability ball.
- Crunches and more. Lie on the stability ball and do crunches for an excellent abdominal workout. Also use the ball as a back support against the wall as you do squats, or prop your feet or legs on the ball while doing modified pushups.
Stability Ball: Choosing the Right Size
Before you invest in a stability ball, you need to figure out which type is best for you. Select the size of the ball based on your height. Your weight is not as much of a factor in choosing the right size stability ball; the largest balls can support up to 600 pounds.
- 30- to 35-centimeter balls: These are the best fit for people under 4 feet 10 inches tall.
- 45 centimeters: Best for people 4’8” to 5’5″ tall.
- 55 centimeters: Best for people 5’6″ to 6 feet tall.
- 65 centimeters: Best for people 6 feet to 6’5″ tall.
- 75 centimeters: Best for people taller than 6’5″.
- 85 centimeters: Useful for heavier people or those with particularly long legs.
When selecting a stability ball, you should take into account your level of physical fitness and the firmness of the ball. If you are just beginning to exercise, look for a stability ball that is softer and has more give to it because it will be easier to exercise on it. Firmer stability balls with less give will increase the intensity of the workout and make the exercises more difficult.