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Fit in 5: Best 5 Stability Ball Exercises

Pamela Hernandez owns Thrive Personal Fitness in Springfield, MO where she focuses on weight training for weight loss. She writes a blog for her web site, www.thrivepersonalfitness.com, sharing vegetarian recipes from her kitchen, exercise strategies, lifestyle tips and stories from her own journey. You can also follow Pamela on Twitter @ThriveFit or pick up more tips on Facebook, www.facebook.com/thrivepersonalfitness.

Want to know my favorite piece of exercise equipment? I’ll give you a few hints.

It’s bouncy.
It’s round.
It’s filled with air.

You guessed it-the stability ball!

Sometimes called a fitness ball or a Swiss ball, a stability ball is an extremely versatile and inexpensive piece of exercise equipment. It can allow you to do a variety of exercises by subbing for a weight bench, by keeping you off the ground and your back if that causes you discomfort or by adding a new challenge to an old exercise by engaging more core and stabilizer muscles.

Most people are actually intimidated by the stability ball. That comes from not knowing what to do with it or seeing people doing really dumb things with it on YouTube. But most stability ball exercises are easy to learn. If you workout at home and your budget is limited, the stability ball should be the first piece of equipment you purchase. You will be able to get a great workout with just your own body and the ball. Add a pair of dumbbells and the possibilities are endless.

So what exercises should you do with the ball? Here are my favorite stability ball exercises:

Wall Squat: Place the ball in the small of your back. Lower your hips into a squat position, being careful not to go under the ball or let your knees go out past your toes. Hold for a 5 count in the down position on the last rep.

Push up with feet on Stability Ball: Standard push up position except with your feet (or shins for beginners) on the ball. This version really engages your core so keep your abs tucked in.

Hamstring Curl: Lay on your back with feet elevated on stability ball. Lift hips into bridge position. Slowly pull the ball into hips with your heals, then slowly push it back out. Keep your hips up for all reps.

Bench dip with feet on Stability Ball: You will need a bench, ledge or sturdy chair for this exercise. Sit on bench or chair with hands gripping edge beside your thighs. Place your feet on stability ball. Slowly move your hips off the bench or chair and lower hips by bending the elbows. Engage your core to stay steady on the ball. Push up through the heels of your hands to return to the start position.

Mountain Climbers: Yes, I said mountain climbers. These are a more slow and controlled version with your forearms on the ball. Alternate bringing each knee up while keeping your body steady on the ball.

If you do all of these exercises you will have a great full body workout. Add some calisthenics in between (like jumping jacks or burpees) for an awesome fat burning routine.

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January 29th, 2012

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