Looking for a way to add some bounce to your routine in the gym? Try adding a Swiss Ball to turn easy exercises into more challenging maneuvers. Balancing on a ball as you crunch, press, curl, etc., helps bring more muscle groups into play and forces you to concentrate on maintaining proper form and balance. And there’s no way better to work those core muscles like the abs, obliques, and quadratus lumborum, etc.

Performing resistance exercises on a ball is a more effective way to train for sports, i.e. track and field, martial arts, etc., since in any kind of competition you are in motion and often off balance. Here’s a routine that’ll put some “balls” in your workouts – Swiss Balls, that is!

There’s no better way to train abs than by doing crunches on a ball. Lie on your back across the ball with legs bent, feet flat and hands behind your head. Proceed by raising head and shoulders up a few inches. Pause, squeeze your abs and return to starting position. To add resistance, clasp a dumbbell or weight plate to your chest as you crunch. Perform as many reps as it takes to get a burn. Try reverse crunches by laying flat on the mat with your heels on the ball then crunch as you move the ball simultaneously by bringing your knees up toward your elbows.

Don’t forget your obliques or your “side abs”. Lie on your right side over the ball, left leg over right, hands by the sides of the head, elbows out. Proceed to bend upward as high as possible. Pause, return to starting position. Perform 8-12 reps. Lie on your left side for another set bending up the other way.

Swiss ball squats are a great safe way to build up butt and legs without chugging a loaded barbell across the back of your neck and shoulders. Stand with the ball between your lower back and the wall. Squat slowly down until the backs of the thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause. Then return to starting position. Perform 8-12 reps.

Make push-ups more effective by using the ball. Place your hands on top of the ball with arms bent at a 90 degree angle, legs out behind you and extending up on toes. Proceed to push up to arms’ length. Pause. Then return to starting position. Perform 8-12 reps.

To make dumbbell curls, shoulder and chest presses, front and side raises more challenging, try them seated on a ball. Use lighter weights at first. Use your Swiss Ball on a mat area for added safety. Swiss Balls come in sizes small, medium and large and can be purchased at any sporting goods store. They usually come with a pump to keep them firm and bouncy!

For more tips on how to use the Swiss ball in your workouts contact TrainerTomB@aol.com. See Tom’s ad in the back of this magazine to find out about his services!

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Tom Bonanti is a personal trainer and licensed massage therapist (MA40288) with his own one on one training studio in Ft. Lauderdale www.pumpnincgym.com. Contact Tom with questions regarding fitness and nutrition trainertomb@aol.com or call to schedule a free fitness intake massage (954) 557-1119.