Swiss ball exercises to keep you fit at home
Staying fit at home doesn’t mean you have to splurge on tons of different workout equipment.
Doing Swiss ball exercises is incredible for improving your core strength and balance because it forces you to use your stabilising muscles during movements. This makes it an ideal training partner for all athletes who want to improve their game and stay injury-free.
It also a great way to cut through the boredom if you’re working at home – switch your seat to a Swiss ball for a few minutes a day and you’ll be working on your balance while you type!
Let’s have a look at some of the easiest and most effective Swiss ball exercises you can do at home:
Swiss ball sit-ups
Lots of the world’s top athletes swear by Swiss ball ab exercises and it’s true that they not only give results, they also protect your back while you’re working out.
For sit-ups with a Swiss ball, sit on the ball and lie back while rolling on the ball gently, so that the small of your back is on the ball itself. Make sure you’re staying balanced, with both feet on the floor.
Then, cross your arms on your chest or behind your head, and do three sets of 10 sit-ups. As you get stronger, you can hold a weight to increase the pressure on your abdominals.
If you’re already able to perform a press-up on the ground and want to make it more challenging, the Swiss ball is your friend.
Place yourself in a press-up position in front of your Swiss ball, then lift your feet onto it. Maintaining your toes on the ball, perform 10 press-ups. Do three sets and make sure you’re staying straight the whole time! Keeping the ball from moving is part of the challenge.
You can also do a modified press-up with your feet or shins on the ball, thereby modifying the angle at which you’re approaching the mat as you descend. This takes some of your body weight off, especially if you rest your shins on the ball.
Balancing exercises on the Swiss ball
There are lots of nice exercises you can try to improve your balance and core strength.
First, start off sitting on the Swiss ball with your feet shoulder width apart and firmly on the floor. Centre yourself as much as you can before lifting your feet off the floor and sitting back onto the ball, while being careful not to roll to either side. Set a timer and go for at least 30 seconds before your feet touch the ground again. Use your arms to balance yourself.
As you get stronger, you can pass a weight from one arm to the other to make it more challenging. And finally, when you’re strong enough, you can try balancing on the ball on your knees.
Strengthen your lower back
One great advantage of doing exercises with a Swiss ball is how gentle it is on you lower back. In fact, you can also use it during rehab activities for your lower back if you’re recovering from injury.
Here’s a Swiss ball lower back exercise you can do progressively. Lie face down on the ball, keeping the middle part of your body over the centre and almost “hugging” the ball. Then, slowly lift your upper body, while maintaining your balance with your toes on the ground, and pushing your hips into the ball. Engage your glutes at the same time. Check out the video:
You can keep your arms crossed by your head for a maximum extension which activates your upper back as well. As you’re using your glutes to stabilize, this exercise actually targets two muscle groups directly. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions.
You can make this exercise more challenging by holding a weight as you lift up once you get stronger.
To help your balance even further and just isolate your lower back, rest your heels against a wall so you’re not rolling backwards.
Do the Cobra
Another great Swiss ball stability exercise is the “Cobra.” This is also performed facing down on the ball, with your feet hip width apart, and is a slow movement designed to really elongate your back muscles while improving your balance and stability. Here’s a quick demo:
Start off with your arms straight down in front of you and move them backwards, keeping the tension in your whole body as you face down and maintain a straight line throughout your neck and spine.
You can do these as a set of 10, repeating three times, or just include them in your stretching regime.
Swiss ball knee tuck
To work your abs and balance at the same time in a more dynamic way, try the knee tuck. Start off with your feet on the ball and in a plank position, focusing on keeping a straight line between your shoulders, lower back, and feet.
While balancing yourself straight, roll the ball towards you in a knee tuck (think about doing the knee tuck jumps when you’re standing up).
Watch this video for a detailed step by step guide from getting on the ball to performing the whole movement:
Another move that’s harder than it looks is a Swiss ball hamstring curl exercise.
On your back with shoulders on the floor and heels on the ball, engage your glutes as you draw the ball towards you. Feel the burn in your hamstrings!
Watch this video to get the technique just right: