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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!

Ball Bridge Start Position

Ball Bridge Start Position

Finish

Finish

DSC_3521

Ball Cobra Start

Ball Cobra Finish

Ball Cobra Finish

Ball Dumbbell Chest Press Start
Ball Dumbbell Chest Press Start

Finish

Finish

Overhead Press Start

Overhead Press Start

Finish

Finish

Tricep Extension Start

Triceps Extension

All photos by Lauren Bachner

All photos by
Lauren Bachner

A Workout Wednesday Plan

Stabilization Before Strength Photo by Leslie Hassler

I get lots of questions from lots of people about what exercises are good for someone who is new to the gym or returning after a hiatus. So, in honor of “Workout Wednesday,” I thought I’d offer one of the programs I designed for my training sessions this past weekend.

The following exercises provide a total-body program for what NASM calls the stabilization endurance phase of training. It’s important to note you should perform an adequate warm-up before jumping into this routine and a cool-down when you’re done. For each exercise, aim for two sets of 12 reps. (If you’ve never worked out before or starting again after a very long break, one set is just fine.)

Core:

Balance:

As I’ve written about in the past, the stabilization training phase should be the starting point for anyone new or returning to a fitness routine. Research has shown jumping into strength or power training before stabilization is a surefire way to increase your risk of injury. Simply put, without stabilization, your muscles don’t work the way they’re supposed to and your body being the amazing machine it is will make compensations to keep you moving. Those compensations lead to muscle imbalances which lead to increased stress on the joints which in the end leads to injury.

Aim to perform this program two to three days each week, but remember not to perform the same routine on back-to-back days. Your muscles need time to recover and repair, which is accomplished through rest.  So maybe you go through this program on Mondays and Wednesdays. You can do cardio on the same day or on the in-between days and make sure you don’t skimp on the stretching! I will be eager to hear your feedback on whether or not this program helps you on your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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