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Monday, June 22, 2009

5 Exercises That You Can Do With a Yoga Ball

By Barry Jay

Yoga balls are all the rage these days, and there is good reason for it. First of all, a yoga ball forces your stabilizer muscles to add to the fight, which means that your balance and stability will be improved. With typical weight machines, you are able to isolate a muscle group without allowing the stabilizers to get any work. This means that while you are improving the strength and endurance of the major muscles, your smaller muscles are suffering from atrophy.

Removing yourself from the solid surface of a bench or platform allows you to work every single fiber of your muscle. This insures a balanced look and an overall tone that looks and feels remarkable. To help you get started with a yoga ball, we've developed a list of 5 great exercises that you can do to start feeling the effects immediately.

1. Crunches - Crunches are a great way to make use of a yoga ball because the lack of stability will force your body to recruit every part of your core to finish the movement. This means that both your upper and lower abs will see the benefits, not to mention the often neglected obliques.

2. Pushups - I know it sounds strange, but doing pushups with your hands on a yoga ball will force your pectoral muscles to do more work than they ever have before. Your arms will also feel the burn as they are recruited by your body to aid in the movement. This is a great way to firm up your entire upper body.

3. Dips - Again, this might seem odd at first, but once you get the hang of it you will definitely notice a difference in the way your arms look and feel. If you place your back to the ball and your hands behind you, you'll notice that your entire arm feels the effect of the movement. This means that you are toning every small and large muscle group within your upper and lower arms.

4. Back Raises - Rather than lie with your back on the ball, try placing your stomach face down and doing lower back lifts. This will be tough at first because the movement is slightly awkward, but once you get the hang of it you'll feel your back develop more than it ever has.

5. Seated Ball Roll - This one is a bit trickier to explain without pictures, but imagine placing the ball between your lower back and a wall. Then, slowly move into a squat while keeping the ball against the wall. By the time you reach the bottom of the movement, the ball should be at your upper back. Continue to repeat this to blast your butt and thighs into submission.

This is just the beginning of what you can do with a stability ball. Once you master these basic exercises, then you can continue adding new ones to your routine. Eventually, you'll be making your own exercises up, which is part of the fun. Just keep working with the ball and your balance and overall tone will improve significantly.