A yoga ball (also known as a fitness ball or exercise ball) is used to enhance strength training, pilates, posture improvement and deep stretching. Stability balls are available in various sizes and must be carefully selected to ensure correct use and safety.
Most stability balls have an anti-burst feature that will prevent them from popping under your weight. However, they can be prone to deflating over time and may pop under rough surfaces or excessive pressure.
Back extensions are an important exercise for strengthening the lower back muscles, especially when done correctly. Performing this exercise on the stability ball adds an additional challenge to the workout, because it requires more core strength to keep the body from rolling around or falling off the exercise ball.
To perform this exercise lie prone over the yoga ball, with your stomach and hips resting on it and your feet firmly planted on the floor behind you for support. Keeping the ball inflated will help to assist in your balance as you work to extend your spine, and squeeze your back muscles.
Be careful not to hyperextend your back, as this can cause back pain. Adding your arms to the mix can help you control the movement better, by helping to keep your shoulders and neck in a straight line.
Practicing yoga ball poses can break up the monotony of traditional yoga routines. They are also an excellent way to incorporate more strength-gaining exercises into a workout. These types of exercises use a exercise ball or stability ball to build strength and flexibility in specific muscle groups, depending on where the ball is placed during an exercise.
Stability ball knee tucks are an advanced core exercise that engages the abdominal muscles, triceps and quads as well as the obliques. To perform this exercise, begin in plank position up on the stability ball and move the ball in and out of your chest at a slow and controlled pace.
Be careful not to hike your hips upward during this movement as this can strain your lower back. If necessary, a yoga mat can be placed underneath the ball for more traction.
Single Leg Glute Bridges
The single leg glute bridge adds a new dimension to the traditional two-leg hip-extension exercise. This unilateral movement challenges the hip extensors while also activating core muscles. It can be a useful addition to any workout because it trains the muscles that support the lower back during other exercises, such as deadlifts or barbell hip thrusters.
Lie on the floor with your legs flat on the ground and knees bent. Raise one foot up to a 90-degree angle. Drive through your heel to extend your hip, pause and return to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.
Using the yoga ball as a stability prop makes this exercise more challenging, requiring the core and glute muscles to work harder to stabilize themselves. Perform the exercise to fatigue and then rest for a few seconds before doing another set.
Using a yoga ball for hip circles can challenge the core and improve posture. Tighten the abdominals to support your spine and extend the arms at the sides of your body to help you balance as you circle your hips in a clockwise direction. Start with small circles and then increase the size of your circles as you get more flexible. Do three rounds of 10 hip circles.
Stand with your feet wide and the exercise ball in front of you. Place the right hand on the ball and gently roll it forward, stretching through the chest as you shift the weight to the left leg and feel a back stretch on the left side of the body. Repeat on the other side. This whole-body stretch also strengthens the shoulders and core muscles.
Walking Glute Bridges
Glute bridges are a classic butt exercise that strengthen your glute muscles and improve the stability of your hip and core. They’re a great addition to any workout and can be done anywhere, with no equipment. Adding a few variations to this basic movement can increase the challenge and intensity to your hips and glutes.
To start, lie on the floor with a barbell placed across your hips and hold it with both hands. Then, push up into a traditional bridge and add a marching motion with one leg, lifting and lowering that foot. Repeat for prescribed reps.
The marching version of the glute bridge will highlight any imbalances between your two legs and provide a challenge that targets the core as well as the glutes, says Skye.