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October 17, 2007

Balance Ball Workout - Lower Body

By Vanita Gautum

Walk into any gym nowadays and you will find a bunch of balance balls all over the place. And although you see most people using them for abdominal workouts, balance balls have many more uses than meets the eye.

Benefits of balance ball

There are many advantages to using a balance ball and if you’re a first timer, you may find that something as simple as sitting on it a little unsettling. But it won’t take you more than five minutes to get accustomed to the feeling and before you know it, this simple ball will become part of your everyday strength routines.

Benefits of a balance ball include:

  • Improvement of stabilizer muscles
  • Improvement of core (abdominal and back) muscles
  • Improved coordination
  • Improved posture
  • Improved strength in all planes of movement

  • So if you’re ready to improve your body while you make strength gains, then let’s find out how you can use a balance ball to build your lower body.

    Some balance ball tips

    Do ball exercises last
    Before you jump head first into the balance ball, it is important that you complete your balance ball exercises near the end of your workout, as they don’t require heavy weight usage and there’s no need to tire yourself out on the balance ball and then move on to weights .

    Listen to your body
    If an exercise feels awkward or you constantly feel like you’re about to fall off the ball, don’t do it. Even if someone is urging you to, if you’re not comfortable with it, don’t do it. You know your body better than anyone.

    Do exercises slowly
    Whenever you perform any exercise on the balance ball, do it slowly to ensure that you aren’t using momentum to complete each repetition.

    Don’t rest between sets
    Because you’re using your body weight to challenge your body, there’s no need for any rest between sets. So jump from one exercise to the next and, if you’re feeling sore in a healthy way, it’s good to push yourself that extra mile.

    Add weights when it gets easy
    Once you adapt to any exercise, it’s important to add weights in order to make strength gains and challenge your body.

    Balance ball lower body exercises

    To target synergist muscles in the legs and glutes , as well as antagonist and agonist muscles, try the following balance ball exercises:

    Wall squats
    Place the ball between your middle to lower back and the wall and press your body firmly against the ball. Then, with your feet shoulder width apart and slightly ahead of your body, press your back against the ball as you bend your knees and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Return to the starting position and repeat without resting.

    For a variation on this exercise, perform the exercise with one leg at a time; just make sure to keep each leg in line with its respective hip.

    Sets: 2
    Repetitions: 25

    Leg curls
    Lie with your back on a mat; place the balance ball underneath your calves, closer to your ankles. Place your arms on your sides, pressing your palms into the floor. Press your legs firmly against the ball and lift your butt off the ground until your body, from shoulders to toes, is at a 45º angle (this is your starting position). Then, bend your knees and slowly roll the ball in toward your butt until your feet are flat against the ball. Return to the starting position and repeat.

    Sets: 2
    Repetitions: 15

    Reverse leg raises
    Lie on your back on a mat and place the balance ball underneath your calves, bringing it in until your legs are at a 90º angle and the ball is also pressing against your hamstrings. Place your arms on your sides, pressing your palms into the floor, and lift your butt off the ground until your body is at a 45º angle. Hold for a second and then lower your body until your butt is almost touching the ground and lift up again. Repeat.

    Sets: 2
    Repetitions: 15

    Lower body ball exercises

    Next time, we’ll visit upper body exercises and, of course, abdominal exercises. But for now, try to perform a leg and glutes workout twice a week, and incorporate these exercises into your routine.

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