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Exercise balls have become a popular and integral part of many workout routines. Using this piece of equipment, specific areas of the body can be targeted through strategic exercises. In particular, exercise ball workouts are used to strengthen abs and back, improve balance, increase strength and joint flexibility and improve posture.
Most exercise ball workouts target the core area of the body. The core is often defined as the trunk, made up of the abdomen, back and chest, and the muscles that support this area of the body. Working on this part of the body using an exercise ball can lead to better posture and less back pain.
All exercise ball workouts can be broken down into three categories: static exercises, dynamic exercises, and exercises with limb movements. Static exercise ball exercises are those that require a position to be held for a certain length of time, in order to work on the endurance of the muscles being used. Dynamic exercise ball exercises are those exercises that involve movement of the core using the exercise ball. Exercise ball exercises with limb movement are exercises in which the core is not moving but the arms or legs are.
The point of static exercises during exercise ball workouts is to strengthen core muscles and stabilize the spine. Once a static exercise is mastered, it can be made more difficult by increasing the time that the position is held or by adding movement to it. Common examples of static exercises include the plank, the reverse plank, the bridge, the reverse bridge and hold-ups.
Dynamic exercise ball workouts include movement, often while on the exercise ball. These types of exercises should be performed only once the person is comfortable using the exercise ball. Most dynamic exercises involve movement of the core. These may include crunches, with the body on the exercise ball or with the body on the floor and the legs on the ball, or the clock, an exercise in which the legs are on the ball, rolling it from side to side.
Finally, exercise ball workouts can also include limb movements. These types of exercises are often used to increase strength in the core area as well as the limbs being moved. The exercise ball can even be added to a weight training regime, and weights can be used with the ball. Some examples of limb movement exercises include push-ups, squats, and even using the exercise ball as a bench when lifting weights.
Exercise ball workouts can include a number of different exercises. The core is made up of a number of muscles, so it is important to try to work each area when using an exercise ball. Concentrating on one area to the detriment of another can result in the spine being unstable. It is important to remember that when an exercise ball is added to a workout, static exercises should be mastered before attempting dynamic exercises or those that include limb movement.
We used exercise balls at the women's gym where I used to go, before it closed. We had an entire class and the instructor would have us do crunches while sitting on the balls. Those were brutal. I had a hard time balancing on the ball, keeping my feet on the floor and doing the crunch, all at the same time. I had one or two amusing wipeouts while trying to do this. I always seemed to end up with my feet in the air, flat on my back, like a bug.
I've also tried push-ups while resting my feet on the exercise ball, with limited success. Again, I tended to fall off the ball. I'm just not coordinated enough to use one, I suppose.
The best idea is probably to get an exercise ball that comes with a workout DVD. Denise Austin is about too perky, but she does do a pretty good exercise ball workout.
If you have a DVD, then you'll get a variety of exercises, and you can also see someone doing the exercise, which will help you learn to do the exercise correctly. You may also get some tips on what not to do, which is also important. You can hurt yourself by getting into bad habits and working muscles in the wrong way. You'll also learn the importance of warming up and cooling down, along with good stretches. So I'd definitely recommend a DVD.
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