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Get Your New Body On The Ball


The Plan

Workout Guidelines

Do the 6 weight-training, yoga and Pilates ball moves in the order listed 2-3 times a week. Also, do 30-45 minutes of cardio 3-5 days a week, varying intensities and activities. For fun, variety and a challenging aerobic workout, try our cardio ball programme 'Cardio Moves' once or twice a week.

Warm-Up

Before every workout (strength, yoga, Pilates or cardio), sit on the stability ball and gently bounce for 2-3 minutes, maintaining good posture. Next, while sitting on the ball, circle hips slowly in a clockwise direction for 10 reps, starting small and gradually getting bigger before reversing for 10 reps. Then, slowly till pelvis forward and back allowing ball to roll, for another 10 reps in each direction. Finish with 10 slow hip rolls side to side (think: belly dancing).

Cool-Down

End each workout by doing the stretch move 'Ball Traction' and 'Seated Hamstrings Stretch'.

Weight-Training Moves

For weight-training moves like the ones mention here, the stability ball can serve as a portable bench, says Micheal, a New York-based Pilates instructor. To execute these exercises, you must maintain your balance on the ball. In doing so, you'll work not only your target muscles, but also large and small stabilisers throughout your body for better overall strength, balance and proprioception (increased awareness of muscle coordination that promotes effective movement and joint stability).

Bridge Chest Press

Strengthens: Chest, Triceps, Front Shoulders.

How To Do It: Grasp a dumbbell in each hand, then sit on ball and walk feet forward until upper back, shoulders and head are supported on ball, feet hip-width apart, knees over ankles. Contract abs, lifting hips to a bridge position, forming one straight line from head to knees.

Extend arms so they align with shoulders, palms facing forward, and squeeze shoulder blades down and together. Bend elbows out, aligning elbows with shoulders, forearms parallel, wrists neutral. Straighten arms to starting position and repeat. Do 2 sets of 8-10 reps, resting 60 seconds between sets. Weight: 35kg in each hand.

Side-Lying Lift

Strengthens: Upper Hips

How To Do It: Kneeling with your right side against ball, place right elbow and forearm on top of ball, then lean right hip against ball, placing left hand on left hip. Keeping right knee, shin and top of foot on floor, contract abs to stabilise torso, then extend left leg out to the side so your left instep touches floor.

Keeping hips and shoulders square, spine in a neutral position, lift left leg to hip height so it's parallel to floor, toes and knees pointing forward. Lower leg to floor and repeat for reps. Switch sides and repeat to complete 1 set. Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps on each side. Weight: 1-2kg ankle weight (optional).

Yoga Moves

If you're a yoga novice, the stability ball can act as a support, helping you to get into poses that otherwise might be too difficult or uncomfortable, explains Jennifer, a California-based certified yoga instructor. This not only strengthens the target muscles, but recruits large and small stabilisers. If you're already proficient at yoga, you can use the ball to increase the challenge of certain poses as a dynamic surface or resistance.

Extended Right Angle

Strengthens: Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Buttocks, Inner Thighs, Upper Hips, Abdominals, Upper And Middle Back; Stretches Chest, Front Shoulders And Hip Flexors

How To Do It: Sit on ball, then separate feet about 4-5 feet (1.2-1.5 metres) apart, turning right foot out to 90° and turning left foot out to 45°, so torso faces right. Bend right knee to a 90° angle, aligning it directly over right foot, and straighten left leg, adjusting ball so it's under right thigh and hip.

Stabilise your position, pressing left foot down on the floor, squeezing left leg straight; lift arms up to shoulder height and extend them, palms down in warrior. Lean torso to the right, resting right forearm on top of right thigh; rotate chest open, extending left arm toward ceiling.. Hold for 5-10 breaths. To release, inhale as you press right foot down into the floor and lift torso back up to warrior. Shift feet to switch sides and repeat.

Camel Pose

Strengthens: Spine Extensors; Stretches Chest, Front Shoulders, Abdominals.

How To Do It: Kneel on a mat with knees hip-width apart, then place ball behind you so it rests on your calves or heels, tops of feet flat on floor, buttocks touching ball. Place hands on sides of ball. Inhale as you lean torso back into moderate backbend, then exhale, using ball for support.

Squeezing buttocks and lengthening lower back, keep chin level. Hold for 5-10 breaths. Inhale as you press hands into sides of ball and push yourself up to starting position, then exhale as you contract abdominals to stabilise torso.

Pilates Moves

Just as with other types of exercises, the ball can add resistance or support to make basic Pilates mat work more challenging or effective, says Lizbeth Garcia, a certified Pilates trainer in San Diego, California. Holding the ball (either with your hands or even between your ankles or legs) as you execute certain moves increases the workload, particularly on your abs.

Meanwhile, pressing your body into the ball with other moves assists you in optimum positioning so you can get more out of the exercise. The two moves that follow require you to maintain a contraction of your core muscles (aka your "powerhouse" in Pilatesspeak) for stabilisation and a serious workout for your midriff.

Crisscross

Strengthens: Abdominals

How To Do It: Lie face-up on floor with knees bent and aligned over hips, calves raised and parallel to floor. Hold ball in both hands, arms extended, so ball hovers over your knees. Inhale, then exhale as you roll shoulder blades up and off the floor, extending right leg to 45° and moving ball to the outside of left knee.

Inhale, then exhale as you extend left leg and bend right knee, moving ball to outside of right knee, keeping shoulders lifted, neck in a neutral position. Continue to alternate sides without lowering shoulders to floor for 1 set of 20 reps total (10 reps with each leg).

Breaststroke

Strengthens: Upper back, shoulders, spine extensors.

How To Do It: Drape your torso face-down over the ball, so you're supported from upper rib cage to pelvis, feet open in a V, toes touching floor. Bend elbows to 90°, aligned with shoulders, forearms parallel, palms facing down. Contract abs to lift navel away from ball, pressing pelvis into ball to stabilise yourself.

Inhale as you sweep arms forward and overhead in a V, simultaneously lifting upper torso off the ball in a mild back extension. Exhale as you circle arms back and around as in a breaststroke, lowering torso back down. Do 1 set of 10 reps.

Stretch Moves

The ball can help you position your body properly so you're able to get a more effective stretch, says Resist-A-Ball co-founder Mike Morris. By supporting your body weight, the ball also allows you to relax into a stretch while taking stress off your joints. For strong, healthy muscles, Mike recommends doing the following super-lengthening moves at the end of every workout.

Ball Traction

Stretches: Back, abdominals, chest, front shoulders

How To Do It: Sit on ball, then walk feet forward, lowering hips until torso is at an incline against the ball, knees bent, butt close to floor, legs slightly more than hip-width apart, arms relaxed at sides. Inhale as you straighten legs and extend spine so entire back, hips and pelvis are on ball, feet flat; exhale; reach arms overhead. Relax for at least 30 seconds; release by bending knees and rolling up.

Seated Hamstrings Stretch

Stretches: Hamstrings, spine extensors

Sit on ball with hands on thighs, knees bent and aligned with ankles, then straighten one leg, toes up, heel on floor. Inhale as you push ball back with buttocks and lengthen spine, then exhale as you hinge forward from hips toward extended leg until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Hold for at least 30 seconds, then bring torso up and repeat with opposite leg.

The Cardio Plan

Workout Guidelines

After completing the basic warm-up, do 3 minutes of 'Job', then 1 minute of 'Jack', 'Ski', 'Side Lunge', 'Elbow-To-Knee Twist' staggered with 2 minutes of 'Job'  in between, as follows:

Move Job Jack Job Ski Job Side Lunge Job Elbow-To-Knee Twist Job
Duration 3 Min 1 Min 2 Min 1 Min 2 Min 1 Min 2 Min 1 Min 2 Min

To really blast calories, repeat the entire circuit 2 or 3 times, for 30- to 45-minute workout.

Cardio Moves

For a heart-pumping, low-impact workout, look no further than this cardio programme, based on the Havin' a Ball With Resist-A-Ball (Resist-A-Ball Inc., 2003) video, co-starring Stephanie Morris. This creative, circuit-style workout can help you blast calories while building functional strength (dynamic, multi-muscle movements like those you do in everyday life) and toning your abs and lower body, says Mike, a certified trainer and co-founder of Resist-A-Ball.

Each move requires lifting your body weight up off the ball and using large muscle groups, including those of your legs, abdominals and spine extensors, to raise your heart rate and keep it up.

Starting Position For All Exercises

Sit slightly forward of the centre of the ball, with feet hip-width apart, knees bent and in line with ankles. Keep chin level, ears stacked over shoulders, shoulder blades pulled back and together, spine extended, chest lifted and abs pulled in. Relax your hands on your thighs or on either side of you, touching the ball for balance.

Job

Sitting in starting position, begin to bounce and lift your knees as if jogging or marching, raising arms overhead with one knee lift [shown] and lowering arms with the next knee lift. For more legwork, try jogging without bouncing and doing a more controlled leg lift, arms down by your sides.

Jack

From starting position, bounce and separate legs wide into a straddle, feet flat on floor, swinging arms overhead in a wide V. Bounce again, bringing feet back together as arms swing down, placing hands on ball and lifting your butt off the ball slightly. Lower to sit on the ball, then repeat.

Ski

From starting position, bounce and quarter-turn your torso and upper body to the right as you lift feet and bring them together, then down to the left of the ball (think: ski slalom) as arms swing low to the right as if to "plant your poles". Bounce and switch arms and legs. Continue switching sides, moving quickly side to side. Roll more to the side of the ball as you become more experienced.

Side Lunge

From starting position, separate legs slightly more than hip-width apart, feet flat on floor, hands by sides and touching ball. Bounce and shift weight onto your right foot so right knee is aligned over right ankle as you tap left foot out to the left side; keep right hand on the ball as left arm reaches straight overhead [shown]. Sit back on the ball and continue bouncing and alternating lunges from side to side.

Elbow-To-Knee Twist

From starting position, with arms bent at shoulder height, forearms parallel and knuckles facing up, bounce and step sideways to the left as you lift right knee up toward chest; simultaneously bring left elbow toward right knee. Bounce and lower, quickly stepping sideways to the right, lifting left knee and rotating right elbow toward left knee. Continue bouncing and alternating sides.

How To Buy A Ball

Stability balls come in a variety of sizes. A 55cm ball is appropriate for most intermediate and advanced exercisers, according to Mike Morris, co-founder of Resist-A-Ball. If you're a beginner, Mike recommends a 65cm ball, which has a bigger base of support. You also can determine the appropriate size for your height by sitting erect on top of the ball and placing your feet flat on the floor; when doing so, your thighs should be parallel to the floor.

 

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