We have witnessed an explosion of new equipment and training methods over the years. One of my favorite fitness workouts involves the stability ball. Although the ball has been a part of training for a long time, I always find myself going back to this versatile piece of equipment. As my knowledge and experience grows, so does my ability to use the ball in creative and effective exercise programming. It can be used effectively for improving strength, balance, and flexibility. The ball alone can be sufficient to create a fun and unique session for your client. It is inexpensive and can be transported easily, even for in-home trainers.

The stability ball has been used by physical therapists since the mid 1900s. In the early '90s, personal trainers increased the use of the ball with their clients. The stability ball has applications for every population. Children and teens find exercising fun while using a ball. Your fit and healthy clients will enjoy the challenges of incorporating a ball and learning new exercises that take advantage of the instability. Older adults will appreciate the challenge of performing basic strength training exercises while just sitting on the ball. Rehabilitative exercise programs are endless.

The people participating in my exercise programs have said that the ball adds a new dimension to their workout. As a trainer, I never get bored while using this equipment with my clients. Sitting on a ball also reinforces the need for good posture while performing each exercise. It allows clients to strengthen their core in a very safe and effective manner. There are so many applications. With a little creativity you can create a unique and exciting exercise session for your client.

Here are just some of my favorite stability ball exercises you can easily incorporate for your clients at any fitness level:

Abdominal Crunch
Place the lower back on the ball and place hands behind head. Exhale as you bring the torso forward bringing the navel to the spine. Return to the starting position. Do not pull on the neck and keep it in line with the spine. A more advanced version would be to start the exercise with the head lower than the top of the ball.

Abdominal Leg Lifts
Lie on your back with your legs straight, arms by your side and the ball in between the ankles. Inhale to start and exhale while lifting the legs. Squeeze the ball only while you lift the legs up and press your navel to your spine. Inhale as you bring your legs slowly towards the floor.

Oblique Strengthening
To begin, lie across the ball on your side with the outer leg straight and the other knee bent. Drape yourself over the ball with the hands behind the head. Raise the torso while exhaling and slowly return to the starting position.

Chest Press
Lie on the stability ball with your head and neck comfortably on the ball. Start by holding weights with elbows bent and hands at chest level. Push the arms upward keeping them at chest level and slowly return.

Prone Row
Begin by placing your stomach on the ball in a kneeling position. With a weight in each hand, bend the elbows and bring them upward until the hands are near the hip. Hold for a moment while retracting the scapula. Keep the neck in line with your back and slowly return.

Supine Bridge
Place your head on the ball with the hips lowered to the floor and the knees bent. Inhale to start and exhale as you lift the torso until you are in a straight line from shoulders to knees. To return, lower the hips toward the floor slowly with control.

Prone Pike
Begin with the knees on the ball and the arms beneath the shoulders. Go into a pike position keeping the hips high and the legs straight. Slowly return to the neutral spine position.

Oblique Plank
In the pushup position, place the feet on the ball. Bring your right knee to the chest and then twist hips bringing the knee to the left shoulder. Switch legs.

Pushup
Place your body in pushup position with the feet on the ball. Inhale and slowly lower the body towards the ground. Exhale and push the body back to the starting position. Keep the core tight so that it stays in a straight line.

Back Extension
Lie face down with your stomach on the ball and hands behind the head. Exhale and slowly raise the torso toward the ceiling and squeeze the gluteals. Inhale and lower down to the starting position.

Lower Back Strengthening
Begin with your stomach on the ball and extend your left arm and right leg. Hold for three seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat and alternate starting sides.

Hamstring strengthening
Lie on your back with your legs straight and your heels on the ball. Press into the ball with your heels and roll the ball into your body and then return to the starting position.

Ball Wall Squats
Stand with the ball between the wall and your lower back. Your feet should be hip width apart and take two steps away from the wall. Do a squat while leaning into the ball. Bend the knees until the thigh is parallel to the floor and press the heels into the floor.


Carol Michaels is a long-time personal trainer, speaker and studio owner. She is the creator of the Recovery Fitness cancer exercise program helping hundreds of cancer survivors improve their recovery from the side effects of surgery and treatments. Visit www.recoveryfitness.com for more information.

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