Stability Ball Training 101
The stability ball (also called an exercise ball, Swiss ball, or physioball) is a simple yet versatile piece of training equipment that you can use to train your whole body with fun and innovative moves. Stability ball training is effective in building balance, stability, and pillar strength. You can find stability balls at most gyms, and they can be purchased at sporting goods stores or in our online store.
The stability ball is a versatile piece of equipment that has a wide range of benefits. Here are some of the positive results you'll see:
- Build pillar strength. Stability ball exercises are ideal for building pillar strength since they increase the demand of your shoulder, hip, and core stability.
- Improve balance and coordination. The unstable surface of the stability ball forces your muscles to heighten their readiness. Your body will call more muscles into action to help stabilize your body and control that unstable surface.
- Activate key muscles. Stability ball exercises can also help activate and elongate key muscles, much like you do in your Movement Prep routine.
- Better sports performance. Stability ball movements create better body awareness. This can lead to a lower your risk of injury because you'll be less likely to turn an ankle or twist a knee when you're knocked off balance.
Challenge Your Brain and Body
If you do a set of pushups on the floor, you’ll need some strength, but not a whole lot of balance, agility, or coordination. But what if you add the added challenge of placing your hands on a stability ball? Now your body has to compensate to keep the ball from moving. Your central nervous system has to recruit more of your muscles so you can remain balanced. More of those little muscles in the shoulder are activated, creating more stability. When we’re challenging the body’s feedback system to make quick adjustments, we say this exercise is “proprioceptively enriched,” meaning it will help you improve better and challenge your muscles.
Don’t worry if the moves seems awkward at first. Even gifted professional athletes have difficulty when they first use the ball. But you’ll find that you pick up the exercises quickly and experience an immediate benefit. They often say that they feel as if they’ve activated and stabilized muscles they didn’t know they had.
There’s also a great feeling of accomplishment for being able to perform on an unstable surface. You’ll increase the degree of difficulty somewhat, but the benefit will increase exponentially, and you’ll feel great knowing that you can do something many people cannot.
Sample Stability Ball Exercises
The stability ball is a versatile piece of equipment that can be used to train your entire body effectively. It can also be used to enhance a movement you are already familiar with by adding some instability. Below are a few ways you can use a stability ball to train a wide variety of muscle groups and motions.
Leg Curls: Use this move to strengthen your hamstrings and glutes. It will also help develop your core stability.
Shoulder Y's: Guard against injury and build strength in your shoulders with this simple movement. You can progress to a variation with dumbbells for added resistance.
Plank with Alternating Hip Flexion: Sometimes referred to as mountain climbers, this challenging exercise builds strength throughout your pillar, from your shoulders to your torso to your hips.
Straight Leg Bridge (Reps): Build strength in your glutes and lower back with this classic move.
Plank with Rotational Knee Tuck: This move will not only help you build a more stable core, it will also challenge your balance and stability.
Push-Up (One Foot on Ball): Try this move to build strength in your chest and arms while challenging your core stability.
Choosing the Right Size
Find the right fit using the chart below. The ball should be firm, not squishy.
|Your Height||Ball Height||Ball Size|
|Up to 4 ft. 8 in. (140 cm)||14 in. (35 cm)||Small|
|4 ft. 8 in. to 5 ft. 5 in. (140 to 165 cm)||18 in. (45 cm)||Medium|
|5 ft. 5 in. to 6 ft. 0 in. (165 to 185 cm)||22 in. (55 cm)||Large|
|6 ft. 0 in. to 6 ft. 5 in. (185 to 195 cm)||26 in. (65 cm)||Extra Large|
|Over 6 ft. 5 in. (195 cm)||30 in. (75 cm)||Extra, Extra Large|
1. Verstegen, Mark, and Pete Williams. Core Performance: the revolutionary workout program to transform your body and your life. Pennsylvania: Rodale Press, 2004.