Using an exercise ball can be a little bit intimidating but with practice, the ball can be a great tool for building a strong core and providing better balance. An exercise ball can also replace the need for a bench for some exercises and provides a great opportunity to strengthen the abdominal muscles in a very short period of time.
What size of ball do I need?
The first thing you need to do is to buy the correct size ball for you.
If you are:
Under 5' (152 cm) = purchase a 45 cm ball
Between 5' - 5'5" (152-165 cm) = purchase a 55 cm ball
Between 5'6" - 6'2" (166-187 cm) = purchase a 65 cm ball
Over 6'2" (over 187 cm) = purchase a 75 cm ball
The main rule of thumb is that your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are bent at a 90 degree angle. It's okay if your hips are a little higher than your knees but you don't want your knees being higher than your hips.
A few pointers when using the ball:
The first thing you need to do is inflate the ball. If you are new to using a ball, it is best not to inflate it all the way. You want it to 'give' a little when you sit on it. It will be easier to balance on it since the bottom of the ball will flatten a little bit on the floor and it will act more like a seat for you. Once you become more experienced, you can pump it up all the way. Personally, I never pump the ball all the way up. I find it more comfortable to use when doing abdominal exercises when it is a little bit less than fully pumped up.
Once the ball is pumped, find a safe area where you can practice using it. Ensure you have shoes that have good tread on the bottom so you don't slip on the hard floor or carpet/rug. Practice sitting on the ball with your feet wide apart for better stability. Slowly walk your feet away from you as you roll your body down on the ball. Please watch the video here for a demonstration:
To roll back up to a seated position, move your feet back in towards the ball and roll yourself back up. You can place your hands on the side of the ball as you roll back up. Practice this movement several times while always keeping your feet wide for safety. When you are sitting on the ball, move around in a seated position and get a feel for the ball. Ideally, if you work or sit at a desk for long periods, try using the ball as your chair. You can start with short periods of time (10-15 minutes) and then swap back with your regular chair. Over time you can use the ball more, and the chair less. By sitting on the ball, your core will get a great workout and you'll notice your posture will be much better.
There are lots of exercises you can do with the ball. Stay tuned for a new workout introducing the ball for some basic exercises!