Why Laura Loves the Stability Ball
It’s Workout Wednesday and you know that means? It’s time to get on the ball! Literally.
This past weekend, I did something I haven’t done in far too long. Since the cardio area was super crowded, I grabbed a stability ball and some free weights and got started on a total-body workout that kicked my endorphins into high gear. (The bonus: when I finished my stability ball workout, the traffic had died down a bit in the cardio area and I added 30 minutes of high-intensity elliptical training to round out my routine.)
What makes doing exercises on a stability ball so effective? The scientific explanation is that it creates a proprioceptively enriched environment for your workout. This type of environment challenges the internal balance and stabilization mechanisms of the body. When performing exercises on a stability ball, your body is forced to balance itself, which means you get the added benefit of working multiple muscles at once.
Think of it this way: If you lie on a bench to perform a chest press, you get good work for your pectoral muscles, but not much else. However, perform that same exercise on a stability ball and you have to draw in your navel and squeeze your glutes to remain stable and perform the exercise. Talk about a great way to get more from your exercise routine without spending countless more hours working out!
If you need one more reason to get on the ball, here it is: virtually every exercises performed on the ball works your core, which is responsible for stabilizing the rest of the body. Maintaining a strong core improves your performance in and out of the gym with daily activities ranging from walking up stairs to carrying groceries.
I leave you with some of my favorite stability ball exercises and would love to hear about yours. Remember, getting on the ball is a surefire way to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Here’s to Another Workout Wednesday!
Happy Workout Wednesday!
This week I offer some new exercises for your stabilization endurance routine. There’s something important to note about this level of training: it’s not just for workout newbies and those returning to exercise after a hiatus.
NASM teaches it’s also crucial for exercise veterans to re-visit the stabilization level after periods of strength or power training. Why? Because performing exercises that challenge the body’s proprioception is a surefire way to maintain your core and joint stability. I don’t care how much weight you can push with your chest muscles on a bench or curl at a seated machine with your biceps. After intense strength or power training, keeping your body in a bridge while performing a couple of sets of ball dumbbell chest presses offers a good reminder of how important it is to maintain your core strength!
Don’t forget to warm-up before jumping into this routine and cool-down when you’re done. For each exercise, aim for two sets of 12-15 reps.
- Total body: Step up balance to overhead press
- Chest: Push ups
- Back: Ball cobra (2-arm)
- Shoulders: Single-leg dumbbell scaption (alternating arm)
- Biceps: Single-leg bicep curl
- Triceps: Supine ball dumbbell triceps extension
- Legs: Body weight squats
I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but you need to visit and re-visit this training level throughout your year-round workout cycle to keep your muscles the way they’re supposed to. If you’re a “regular” here at LauraLovesFitness.com, you may know the following chain reaction by heart: when your muscles don’t work properly, your body makes compensations to keep moving. Those compensations eventually lead to muscle imbalances which lead to increased stress on the joints which can ultimately lead to injury.
As with the other workouts I’ve presented, your goal should to perform today’s program two to three days each week, but don’t perform the same routine on back-to-back days. Your muscles need time to recover and repair, which is accomplished through rest. So you could perform this program on Tuesdays and Thursdays and get your cardio on the in-between days. Whatever you do, never skimp on the stretching!
So, what are some of your favorite stabilization exercises? You know I’m always looking for new ideas to help all of us on our quest to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
The Importance of Balance Training
Whether you’re walking down a staircase in stilettos or prepping to make a jump shot on the basketball court, balance is a key component to all functional movements. This is why balance training exercises should be a part of everyone’s fitness regimen, regardless of your fitness level.
Balance is the ability to sustain or return the body’s center of mass or line of gravity over its base of support. The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) explains the purpose of balance training is to improve dynamic joint stabilization, which is the ability of the body to stabilize of keep the joints in proper alignment during movement. (One example: stabilization of the hip during a squat by the gluteus medius and adductor complex.)
Countless studies have been done which show a direct correlation between balance training and injury prevention. I think it’s safe to say we’d all agree anything that can help decrease our risk of injury is worth spending some time on.
So how do you do it? The idea is to perform exercises that constantly stress a person’s balance threshold. This is the limit a person can perform an exercise without losing control of his or her center of gravity. In “big-word terminology,” the idea is to push that threshold in a proprioceptively enriched environment. This is an environment that challenges the internal balance and stabilization mechanisms of the body.
In simple terms, balance training is typically performed on a single-leg and/or on unstable surfaces such as a half-foam roll, Airex pad or Dyna disc. For beginners, examples of balance training exercises include single-leg balance and single-leg balance reach. More “seasoned” fitness buffs may perform single-leg squats or single-leg Romanian deadlifts. Finally, balance training exercises for the experienced athlete may include multiplanar hop with stabilization or single-leg box hop-ups with stabilization.
I found this link very helpful in describing the purpose for balance training along with this one from the Mayo Clinic featuring examples of exercises. At the end of the day, balance training can be a challenging part of your exercise program and just one more way to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!