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Great workout balls of fire

Posted: May 14, 2009 7:49 p.m.
Updated: May 15, 2009 4:55 a.m.

STINGERS works the core, hams, and glutes. START: Lie on your back with palms up. Press the weight of your heels into the ball with toes up. Contract your abs and glutes as you raise your hips off the floor. Keep your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles all in alignment. FINISH: Inhale as you bend your knees and pull/roll your heels towards your h...

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If your same old workout routine has got you bored to tears and singing the "I've hit a plateau" blues, then listen up. Stop doing those tired, boring squats and lunges that are no longer providing you results. What's the remedy? Add a stability ball to your "ho hum" workout routine and you'll soon be shouting: "Goodness gracious, great balls of fire!"

Stability balls have been used for decades in physical rehabilitation clinics around the world. In fact, the first use of stability balls has been dated all the way back to 1965 by a group of physical therapists in Switzerland; coining the term "Swiss Ball." However these days, stability balls have been ignited into the mainstream as personal trainers, group fitness classes and home exercise videos have made this "fire ball" a standard piece of training equipment.

What's so great about a stability ball? Extensive research and studies have proven that optimum exercise performance is achieved while training in an unstable environment. Since it has a spherical shape, the ball is an unstable base. No two movements or repetitions performed on the ball will be exactly the same. Neither the ball nor the body can react the exact same way twice.

Strength training on machines can be an effective way to increase maximum strength. However, this single plane, stabilized training does not provide the neuromuscular efficiency required to use maximum strength in an integrated fashion. I encourage you to take your old resistance training routine and now do it on a stability ball. Add a set of hand weights or a medicine ball and watch out!

You'll be feeling muscles "firing up" that you didn't even know you had.

Whether you want to train the upper or lower body or even your core muscles, there are 100s of exercises you can do to challenge your body in new ways. Stability ball training will increase your overall body strength, and add a new dimension to muscle growth and strength that can only come from increasing core strength and stability.

If you're ready to "light the fire" under your old workout routine and get past those training plateaus - grab a stability ball and get moving!

QUADZILLAS works the quads, hams, and glutes.

START: Place ball against wall approximately at belt line/lower back.

Press lower back against ball and take approximately one step forward with each foot.

Feet should be about shoulder width apart and toes pointing forward. Keep abs contracted and take a breath in.

FINISH: Exhale as you slowly lower your hips towards the floor.

Keep lowering until the hips, knees and ankles are bent at about a 90 degree angle. Do not allow knees to extend past the big toe.
Slowly roll back up to starting position, do not lock knees.

Do not lean back against the ball or wall - only your belt line should touch the ball.

For more resistance, hold a dumbbell or medicine ball at chest.

Hold this isometric contraction for 10 to 20 seconds, then do 10 to 20 reps. Repeat this pattern for two minutes.

Cheryl Broughton is an author, Fitness TV Show Host, director of The Fitness Edge Boot Camp, producer, writer and host of "Cheryl Broughton's Secret Weapons." Call 1-888-671-6500 or go to FitnessEdgeBootCamp.com or CherylBroughton.com.Ala

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