Changes in muscle activity and perceived exertion during exercises performed on a swiss ball. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, Volume 31, Number 4, 1 August 2006, pp. 376-383(8)

Murphy B, Marshall P.


The objective of this study was to determine differences in electromyographic (EMG) activity of prime mover and abdominal muscles while performing squats, push ups, and double leg lowering with a swiss ball. Twelve healthy subjects performed the movements. There was no difference between the surface conditions for muscle activity during the squat exercise; however, individuals had lower perceived exertion for the swiss ball squat. Activity of the triceps and abdominals was highest performing push ups on the swiss ball, whereas the activity of rectus abdominus (RA) only increased during double leg lowering on the swiss ball. Perceived exertion was highest for the push up and leg-lowering exercise performed on the swiss ball. Increased RA activity during double leg lowering can be attributed to its role as a hip flexor, whereas the lack of a rotation aspect to the task prevented increased oblique muscle activity. The swiss ball appears to only increase muscle activity during exercises where the unstable surface is the primary base of support.