Fitness Fundamentals: A Beginner’s Guide to Exercise Balls by Dr. Phoenyx Austin

Fitness Fundamentals: A Beginner’s Guide to Exercise Balls

by Dr. Phoenyx Austin

Have you ever noticed how most people will hit the gym and use the same equipment over and over again? Maybe you actually do the same thing yourself. Take me for example. I’ve always been a fan of working out on the treadmill. And for many years, I would just go to the gym, hit the treadmill and pretty much ignore any other piece of exercise equipment. But then one day, a personal trainer put me onto exercise balls. Basically I asked him what exercises I should do to tone up my abs. And he suggested a few exercise ball routines. Now I must admit, I was kinda cocky and thought, “Really dude? There’s no way those cutsie looking balls are going to get me the flat tummy I want.” But boy was I wrong! Because the next day my abs felt like I’d done 1,000 crunches. And the next day I couldn’t wait to go back for more!Now in addition to showing me some really cool exercises, one thing my trainer also emphasized was maintaining proper form when working out with an exercise ball. This way I’d really be able to target my ab muscles without putting stress on my back. So that said, I’d also like to share a few of those personal trainer tips with you. This way, you’ll also be on point with your workout, should you decide to get in on some exercise ball action.Exercise Ball Rule #1: Pick a ball that’s appropriate for your heightExercise balls, like people, come in different sizes. So you want to pick a ball that’s specifically designed for your size. Below you’ll find a handy ball selection guide that I’d recommend you use. And just in case your ball doesn’t have a measurement on it, use this rule of thumb to gauge if you’re using the right size ball: If you sit and your hips are higher than the knees, the ball you selected is too big. Or, if you sit and your knees are higher than your hips, the ball may be too small or not properly inflated.


Suggested Ball SizeYour Height
30-35 cm< 4'10" tall
45 cm4'8"-5'5" tall
55 cm5'6"-6'0" tall
65 cm6'0"-6'5" tall
75 cmover 6'5" tall
85 cmif you’re heavier or long-legged
Exercise Ball Rule #2: Make sure your ball is properly inflatedExercise balls are actually designed to be unstable when you’re sitting on them. It’s the firm, round, instability factor that helps to work, “stabilize” and strengthen your core muscles (aka your ab and lower back muscles). That said, when picking a ball, always go for the one that’s fully inflated because it will better maintain its shape and give your core muscles a better workout.Exercise Ball Rule #3: Knees at 90° and feet at wide stance When sitting on the ball, place your feet flat on the floor and open your legs to the ball’s width or slightly wider than hip distance.  This will reinforce proper spine alignment and prevent unnecessary pressure on your joints. Also, make sure your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle and that your hips are level with your knees.Exercise Ball Rule #4: Head up, shoulders down, neck straight, spine neutralBecause exercise balls don’t provide support for your back, you want to pay close attention to maintaining good posture. So no hunching or slouching on those balls ladies. Your head should be up, neck straight, shoulders should be down and back. And make sure to maintain the natural curves of your back to keep a neutral spine. Sitting this way will prevent putting too much strain on your lower back, and it’ll also force you to work those ab muscles that are just dying to make their sexy Spring Break debut.So I’m curious guys- Do you work out with exercise balls?  What are your thoughts on exercise balls? Like ‘em or leave ‘em? – Dr. PhoenyxDr. Phoenyx Austin is a physician, author, and creator of, a fitness & lifestyle blog. Check out her awesome natural hair care book If You Love It, It Will Grow - available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes. And don’t forget to say hello to the doc on Facebook and Twitter!
Tags: dr. phoenyx austin, exercise, exercise balls, exercise balls for beginners, how to use exercise balls, if you love it it will grow, using exercise balls

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