Exercise Ball Exercises

How to Approach this Exercise Ball Website

As a physical therapist my primary concern is injury treatment and prevention. If you are new to exercise ball exercises I recommend approaching this site in the following fashion:
    1. Core Anatomy
    2. Core Stabilization
    3. Core Instability
    4. Before the Exercise Ball
    5. How to buy an Exercise Ball
    6. Precautions
    7. Instructions
    8. Basic Program
    9. Exercise Progression

Several Exercise Ball Workouts

Free Exercise Tools

Pick Your Sport

The training concepts described on this web site represent the ultimate evolution of sport specific training. As an athlete with excellent core stability you will generate greater power, and strength in any off balance situation. You will run, swing, jump, and swim with greater efficiency. You will be able to apply the strength you have developed in the gym more effectively in functional and competitive situations.

Whether you have never exercised a day in your life or you're a professional athlete, you can benefit from strengthening using the exercise ball. The free exercise ball exercises presented here represent a combination of the latest concepts from both the physical therapy realm and the physical conditioning world and are accompanied by illustrations. We try to review both the theory and rationale behind the ball exercises and present them with detailed instructions and photographs.

I've included 173 exercise ball exercises with over 300 illustrations detailing exercises that require nothing but an exercise ball. I've included a variety of sample exercise ball workout programs for individuals with different levels of experience and involvement in sports.

As a physical therapist I am regularly approached by my patients for a good source of free exercise ball exercises. Web sites of sufficient caliber are sparse, brief, incomplete, and full of advertising. I decided to start this web site to fulfill this need for free ball exercises.

Posture Correction

posture exercises

Adopting good posture not only makes you feel better, but also makes you look younger, and more confident. Initially you will probably find it difficult to maintain good posture for any length of time, but with exercise ball exercises and postural muscle strengthening this effort will become easier. Symptoms of poor posture can include the following: back pain, body aches and pains, protruding belly, rounded shoulders, bent knees when standing or walking, a head that leans forward, headaches, and muscle fatigue.

The exercise ball can be used to help strengthen the core simply by using it as a chair for several minutes a day. This is otherwise known as "active sitting". The size of the chair should keep your feet on the floor while you sit, with your arms resting comfortably on the desk. When you sit on the ball chair, you should keep your legs forming a 90 degree angle at the knees. Any more or any less will mean that the chair isn't right for you. Your weight is a very important factor when choosing this type of chair. If your weight compresses the chair and flattens it, you need to get a bigger ball chair. If you happen to be very light in weight, you can under-inflate. Even though these are great alternatives to a standard office chair, you should consult a physical therapist before you purchase one. If you've had any back problems or surgeries, you want to get a physical therapist's advice before you make that final purchase.  For more information on sizing click  ball size.

It's tough to keep the attention of children in the classroom.  Studies have shown that using ball chairs in the classroom actually enhances concentration while improving balance and coordination.

You can use it to actively strengthen all the muscles that stabilize your spine with the exercise ball exercises presented on "Exercises for Posture".
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Strength Training

stability ball and weights

Most regular free weight exercises can become exercise ball exercises by incorporating dumbbells, barbells, and cables. When you are performing chest press, flyes, triceps extensions, or other bench exercises on a bench, the friction between you and the bench, and your feet on the floor provides stability for you trunk; therefore, you tend to more or less isolate those particular prime movers. The same exercise performed on an exercise ball now additionally targets your stabilizing musculature thereby challenging you to maintain your balance and posture.  Click here for more information on strength training using the exercise ball.

The best part of an exercise ball workout is that you will use many muscle groups in synergistic patterns. This is much more functional and will carry over into obvious strength gains you can see in the gym and in your everyday activities. Each exercise is variable. By slightly changing your body position or a limb position you change the effort and introduce new movement and challenges to your body. We all know that to continue with exercise progression we need to introduce new challenges.
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golf exercises

exercises for golf
A lot of  people have an idea of what core strengthening entails. Most of them believe it is some form of abdominal exercises. What exactly is the core when it comes to the golf swing?  Simplistically, it is the center region of the body that includes the hips, abdominals, shoulders, deep neck and scapular muscles. The core is considered the muscles that link the moving  limbs of the body to the trunk. Listing all the muscles that constitute the "core" could easily fill a page. It is not just the muscles that make up core stability, but also the neural connections and ligaments. The main trunk stabilizing muscles are described  here.

The core is particularly important in golf because it is a rotational sport. The club swings around the core. Your centre of gravity lies in your core. Training with exercise ball exercises allows for the development of greater balance, endurance, and the ability to generate  more power in the swing.

An efficient golf swing allows you to perform equally well on the first hole and the 18th hole.  This requires you to develop high endurance in the core muscles. Endurance exercises (typically high repetition, low resistance) with the exercise ball allow you to perform the same movement over and over without experiencing pain or fatigue.

When looking at the golf swing, the core is considered the "power house". It is responsible for balance and providing most of the rotational force (torque) to generate club speed and therefore generate power. (Power= torque x angular velocity).  Your golf training must also include exercises for power. From back swing to follow through, it is the core that plays a large part in swing execution.

Weakness in the core will cause reduced balance, power  output, and stability resulting in compensations using other muscle groups causing less accuracy, less distance, and potential injury. For more information on the use of the exercise ball in improving golf performance click exercises for golf.
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 hockey exercises
Exercise ball exercises for hockey will
  • Improve multi-directional speed and acceleration to beat your opponent to the puck.
  • Improve total body strength to stand strong in the corner and push your opponent off the puck.
  • Enhance rotational and core power for faster, more powerful shots and better balance.
  • Enhance total body power to deliver and absorb checks throughout the game.
Whether you play competitively or just enjoy the occasional stick and puck games on the local arena, these simple exercises will help you skate faster and stronger. Hockey is all about balance. The hockey player must balance between left and right skates, upper and lower body, cardio and strength, style and intensity. Click exercises for hockey for exercise ball exercises specific for hockey.
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skiing exercises
You don't want to wait for the snow to fall before you start training for the ski season. Skiing requires us to maintain a stable upper body while rotational forces are exerted on our lower body on unstable footings. You need strength, endurance, balance and coordination.   A good training routine can go far to prepare you for the slopes by preventing injuries, improving performance, and helping to avoid days of muscle soreness after your first ski trip.   Exercises like squats, push ups with the ball, and single leg squats with the ball need to be included in basic training for strength. Developing lower extremity and core power will allow you to recover more quickly coming out of a turn. Exercise ball exercises help you transfer force from one leg to the other and develop dynamic balance. Click exercises for skiing to see exercise ball exercises particularly good for the skier.

swimming exercises

swim workout

Exercises for strength training in swimmers must involve the major muscle groups swimmers use to propel themselves through the water. Studies have shown that the amount of force and power that a swimmer can apply with each stroke during 22.75 m of sprint swimming is very closely connected to their speed. It is wise then to engage in activities that improve muscular power, at least for sprinting events.

The major muscle groups used include those that bring the swimmers' arms from a position overhead to their hips.  They are the pectoralis major muscles of the chest, the latissimus dorsi, the rhomboids, the trapezius, and the anterior deltoids.  The inward sweeps of their arms are accomplished by biceps, brachialis, brachioradialis, and supinator. The teres major and minor of the upper back are also used.  The muscles that sweep the arm out and up from under the body are the middle and posterior deltoids.  The triceps and anconeus are the primary muscles involved in extending the arms at the elbows.  Most of these muscles originate on the trunk. If you don't have adequate stability of the trunk, you can't possibly generate power through their insertions. Exercise ball exercises will strengthen those muscles that give you a strong stable core from which to generate that power and force.

The downbeats of flutter and dolphin kicks, the upbeat of the backstroke and knee extension in the breaststroke are accomplished by the knee extensors (quadriceps) and the hip flexors. The upbeat of the kick is made possible by contraction of the hamstrings and gluteus maximus. These muscles also extend the legs in breaststroke and during hip extension when they are starting and turning. Breaststrokers also require strength in the adductor muscles that are responsible for squeezing their legs together during the propulsive phase of their kick. Again, most of these muscles originate in the trunk, spine, or pelvis. To generate force at one end of the muscle you must stabilize the other end. Exercise ball exercises will strengthen those muscles that give you a strong stable core from which to generate that power and force.

Click here for exercises to create your best swim workout and learn more about how exercise ball exercises can improve your swim times.
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throwing exercises

For competitive or recreational athletes involved in baseball, tennis, or  basketball, shoulder disorders, especially rotator cuff injuries can e debilitating. Individuals who have shoulder instability as a result of congenital laxity, repetitive microtrauma (from repetitive throwing) place increased demands on the rotator cuff as it attempts to keep the humerus centered in the glenoid (ie socket). If the rotator cuff fatigues, it may no longer center the humeral head in the socket resulting in impingement and tendonitis or worse, a tear.

Rotator cuff injuries in sports are usually due to microtrauma from repetitive movements. Primary impingement results directly from overhead motions, secondary impingement is related to underlying shoulder instability. Your physical therapist will use a variety of physical maneuvers to assess pain, muscle weakness and shoulder stability if you are suffering from shoulder pain.

Coaches and athletic trainers can help develop and carry out sound programs for preventing rotator cuff injuries. Preseason conditioning should address the flexibility, strength, and endurance of the shoulder muscles, particularly the scapular stabilizers and external rotators of the rotator cuff. Exercise ball exercises should be included in any shoulder strengthening and stabilization program especially if the athlete is involved in repetitive throwing.

Click here for exercises for throwing using the exercise ball that will strengthen your throw and help to prevent injuries.
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Postpartum Exercise

post partum exercises

The post partum period is an ideal time to incorporate exercise into lifestyle changes. New responsibilities, physical changes, and competing demands for time may make exercise seem impossible. By emphasizing weight control, stress reduction, and other benefits, women can establish healthy exercise goals for the rest of their lives. Obstacles to postpartum exercise include physical changes, competing demands, lack of information about weight retention, fear of interference with breastfeeding, and stress incontinence. Women who are eager to exercise may be unsure of when it is safe for them to resume exercise. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology notes that the physiologic effects of pregnancy may persist for up to six weeks postpartum and therefore, advises a gradual resumption of activity as tolerated. Your medical doctor will tailor their recommendations to your previous level of fitness and any complications you may have experienced during pregnancy and delivery. Exercise ball exercises are a good way to start any exercise regime to reclaim those abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.
Click post-pregnancy exercises for more details.
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Aarthi g Not rated yet
Thanks a lot for putting this exercise ball site up. I just got a swiss ball and this is really, really useful. It must have taken time and effort to put …

Denise Not rated yet
This is the best exercise ball website I've come across, by far. Thanks so much for putting the effort into compiling so many ball exercises. I'm trying …

Jennifer W Not rated yet
Thanks for putting up this website. I've just got my ball and am looking forward to starting a new program.

David Not rated yet
Excellent website, so many exercises together!

Dakota Not rated yet
My commitment is stronger now than ever to exercise. My brother got me into it and now I have proven to everyone that when you put your mind to it, you …

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"Thanks a lot for putting this exercise ball site up. I just got a swiss ball and this is really, really useful. It must have taken time and effort to put this up, and surely, you've done it out of passion and it is getting incredibly, incredibly hard to find good, relevant information on the web these days, especially exercise/weight loss related.
So thanks a bunch! "

Aarthi g (Mumbai)

"Great website. I just blew up the good ol' exercise ball again in hopes of getting back in shape.
Thank you for all of your information!"

"Awesome site and very comprehensive from beginner to advanced with all the necessary precautions and instructions. Great job and thanks so much for sharing."

"This is the best exercise ball website I've come across, by far. Thanks so much for putting the effort into compiling so many ball exercises. I'm trying many of them..."

"Thank your for putting together such a comprehensive site, the saying a picture is worth a thousand words, your photos along w/ text work well for setting up a HEP. "
Sincerely Maria Minichiello, PT
Upper Chesapeake Medical Center

"I think this is the best site I've found for stability ball exercises! You've got more information here than I've seen in a lot of books on the subject. Thanks so much for sharing!"
Jim B. (UK)