Have a Ball Working Out!


Looking for a fun and simple way to add some bounce to your workouts? Perhaps you are still exercising safely at home and need an inexpensive piece of equipment that is versatile easy to store. 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 (especially those vital core muscles) and forces you to concentrate on maintaining proper form and balance.


Performing resistance exercises on a Swiss ball or resistance ball (whatever you chose to call it) 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 is an effective routine that is fun and challenging!


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. Make sure to execute proper form with each of these exercises. 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!

Tom Bonanti is a certified personal trainer and massage therapist (MA#40288) with his own one on one facility in Ft. Lauderdale. Contact with questions of to set up an appointment today.