When burnout strikes in the weight training room, step away from the weight benches and get on the ball. The stability ball was born in Italy and designed as a child’s play thing. Then, European physiotherapists discovered their usefulness as rehabilitation tools. Eventually, the balls rolled into mainstream fitness centers around the world, where personal trainers realized their usefulness as makeshift weight-benches.
Since position is everything in life fitness and weight training, selecting the proper ball size is imperative. Here are some general guidelines, listed according to your height:
under 4’10″ 16″ or 42cm
4’11″ – 5’4″ 21″ or 55cm
5’5″ – 5’11′ 25″ or 65cm
6′ and taller 29″ or 75cm
These sizes might vary, according to your leg to torso ratio. In general, when seated on the ball, your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle. Your personal trainer can help you choose the correct ball size.
A special type of extra sturdy ball is designated as burst-proof. These are best for stability ball weight training, but you will still need to check the floor for sharp objects. Never lift weights whilst sitting or lying on non-burst-proof balls.
The Progressive Approach
If you look around the gym, you will probably notice many people who have adapted the ball as their weight bench, but a frighteningly small number of people are actually using them correctly. Whilst ball weight training is challenging, some overly active muscle groups will gladly dominate the exercise. Doing the workout does not therefore guarantee that you are doing it correctly.
Although it’s tempting to jump right into the cooler, more advanced exercises, weight training on the stability ball demands a progressive approach. In the beginning, when you first try stability ball exercises, the engagement of your core muscles, combined with the increased range of motion on many of the exercises, provides a challenge in its own right, which does not require any external resistance.
Before you add weights, your personal trainer will check your posture, balance and alignment on the ball. When your trainer is satisfied with your ability to stabilize your lower back and maintain correct postural alignment whilst using the ball, he or she will begin with simple, seated ball exercises. Examples include lateral raises, biceps curls, front raises and overhead presses.
Kicking It Up a Notch
Once you’ve established an ability to stabilize, you will learn how to perform supine, prone and side-lying weight training exercises on the ball. Examples might include bench presses, the chest fly, the rear deltoid fly and side leg raises, performed whilst wearing ankle weights.
Most fitness experts do not recommend heavy, power-lifting exercises on the stability ball, with the rare exception of elite athletes. Strength training, however, need not be an all or nothing prospect. Your trainer might combine training methods, by super-setting traditional strength training with ball exercise. You use a heavier weight on the traditional exercise, and a lighter weight on the ball variation. This is just one of the neat tricks our personal trainers have up their sleeves.
Call Happy Physio if you want to learn more about weight training on (08) 9272 7359 today!