Working out with Bands & Balls

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As far as workout equipment goes, stability balls and resistance bands are two of my all-time favorites. The ball has outperformed the floor and weight bench in studies because stability ball exercises use more muscles at the same time. And with bands, you can do exercises that normally require expensive machines without going to a gym. The result: You’ll firm up faster.

Here are seven exercises to get you started with balls and bands. Complete two sets of 10 to 12 reps of each exercise (unless otherwise noted), taking a 30-second break between sets. Do this workout two or three times a week, but not on consecutive days.

By combining these two exercise tools, you’ll recruit more muscle fibers, get all the benefits of a complete home gym, and sculpt beautiful, firm curves. Take a simple biceps curl, for instance. Doing this move on a ball requires more work, so it strengthens the muscles in your arms and tones your abs, waist, back, and legs because you need to use these muscles to maintain your balance. And bands allow you to move in arcs and circles, mimicking high-tech gym equipment and toning the front, back, and sides of your muscles. Now that’s what I call a total-body workout. As a bonus, bands and balls (which deflate) make great travel companions.

Band and ball basics This equipment costs less than $40 for both and is available at most sporting goods stores.

Bands Look for a package that includes light, medium, and heavy resistance bands that are at least 5 feet long. You should hold your band at a length that provides enough resistance to make your last two or three reps feel difficult. If the band is too long or you need more resistance, loosely wrap the ends around your hands. Move slowly through the steps of each exercise to optimize the resistance and prevent the band from snapping back to the starting position.

Balls Choose a size that allows you to sit with your feet flat and your thighs about parallel to the floor. For most, a 65-centimeter ball will do. However, if you’re shorter than 5-feet-5, try a 55-centimeter ball, and if you’re taller than 5-feet-11, try a 75-centimeter ball. If you’ve never used an exercise ball before, don’t inflate it completely. The more inflated and firmer the ball, the harder it is to balance.

*Excerpted from Sculpt Your Body with Balls and Bands by Denise Austin.

How To Use Resistance Bands & Exercise Balls

There are many different tools that can make exercise and strength training fun.
This article outlines:

  • How to use resistance bands and exercise balls
  • The health benefits of using these strength training tools
  • Things you should know before you begin exercising with either tool

Getting Started
Using resistance bands and exercise balls can help make your fitness efforts more enjoyable.

Using resistance bands and exercise balls can help make your fitness efforts more enjoyable.

By learning how to use each tool, you can do interesting and challenging exercises that meet your current needs or abilities.

Keep in mind that if you are new to exercise, or if it has been awhile since you exercised, you should see a medical doctor before starting any fitness program.

Strength training is a vital part of a fitness regime, and contributes to your overall health and well-being.

About Exercise Balls
Exercise balls are also commonly referred to as stability balls, fitness balls, Swiss balls, or physio-balls. They are an inexpensive and lightweight tool that can be used to improve strength, balance and functional fitness. They can be used at home, at the gym or fitness club, or almost anywhere.

Exercise balls generally cost from $10.00 to $40.00. Adult sizes range from 55 cm to 75 cm in diameter. To choose the size that is right for you, sit on the ball so that  your legs are at a 90 degree angle or greater.

Stores generally have a few balls inflated to allow you to try out the different sizes. Otherwise, refer to the specifications listed on the packaging. When you inflate the ball, be sure to follow the inflation procedures provided in the manufacturer’s instructions.How to Use an Exercise Ball

When sitting on the ball, placing your feet wider apart helps you to keep your balance or stabilize your body. With your feet closer together, it’s harder to keep your balance.

When sitting on the ball, placing your feet wider apart helps you to keep your balance or stabilize your body. With your feet closer together, it’s harder to keep your balance.

With a little practice, you’ll be able to use an exercise ball for a variety of exercises.

Here are five examples of basic exercises you can do on an exercise ball:

  • Abdominal crunches
  • Wall squat
  • One arm row
  • Chest press
  • Hamstring curls

The following basic safety considerations should be followed:

  • Breathe (inhale and exhale) through each exercise.
  • Avoid bouncy movements.
  • Keep your abdominal muscles tight when doing exercises on the ball.

You can use an exercise ball safely on your own, but consulting a fitness professional may help, as they can instruct you on correct techniques and getting the most benefits from using this tool.

If you try it and don’t like using an exercise ball there are many other ways to get fit or achieve your strength training objectives.

Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are an inexpensive, lightweight and portable tool that can be used to improve strength. They are also commonly referred to as exercise bands, resistance tubing, or therabands.

Resistance bands come in different forms and different resistance levels. Some are resistance tubing with a handle on each end, which makes it easier to hold onto when doing some exercises. Others look like medical tubing or an oversized elastic band.

Resistance bands that offer more resistance usually come in darker colours, while those offering less resistance come in lighter colours. Prices typically range from $4.00 to $12.00.

The following basic safety considerations should be followed when using a resistance band:

  • Check the band and handles regularly for signs of wear and tear, replacing them as needed, to avoid snapping the band or possible injury.
  • When doing an exercise movement you should feel the resistance in the first 10 to 30 degrees of the movement. (For instance, you should feel the resistance when you first begin to lift your arm while doing a bicep curl. Don’t go beyond that point, as this could cause a muscle strain or pull.)

Here are five examples of basic exercises you can do with resistance bands:

  • Bicep curl
  • Tricep extension
  • One arm row
  • Chest press
  • Leg press

To see a short video on how to do these exercises, visit the Mayo Clinic’s website.

Fun for All Ages
People of all ages can benefit from strength training. Using exercise balls and resistance bands can make it fun, and they are practical tools for working out at home or in the gym.

After you view the suggested videos, start slowly and try out some of the exercises. If you feel unsure or uncomfortable, consider asking for help from a fitness professional. Even if you feel confident, a fitness professional can offer extra tips or insights.

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