Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Expect Great Things (...and eight easy stability ball exercises)

A wise man (Michael Jordan) once said that "you have to expect things of yourself before you can do them." Given his success on the basketball court, he must know what he's talking about. And I tend to agree with him. We live in a society so quick to judge, so quick to uphold certain standards—so quick to expect things from others. But yet, we aren't so quick to point the finger at the person we see in the mirror. And no, I'm not talking about your friend that might be standing next to you. I'm talking about YOU.

Sure, we all want to be healthy and fit. But what wanting boils down to is simply nothing more than longing, which doesn't amount to much action. If any. You have to expect ("to regard as likely to happen") certain levels of health and fitness from yourself—only then are you holding yourself up to a personal standard, and only then are you calling upon yourself to answer. Because, let's be honest, do we really want to let ourselves down? When we know we have to be our healthiest and fittest, when we know it's entirely possible, that's when we have to take action. Because it's within reach. So why let it slip by you?

To believe in your ability is to believe that you can. And to believe that you can is to actually do whatever it is you believe in. Make sense? It should, especially when it comes to your fitness. No matter what you've done in the past, and I may sound like a broken record, but it's never too late to start working out. It's totally worth it, you're totally worth it—and you can TOTALLY do it. Expect that of yourself, and consider starting with the following workout.

All you need is a stability ball and a set of appropriately weighted dumbbells. And maybe a bottle of water (those always come in handy when you're working out. Start with two sets of ten repetitions. Add reps as needed, but only until you reach 15 repetitions. At that point, you'll need to add or increase your weights.

8 Easy Stability Ball Exercises
(...and by "easy," I simply mean that they're good for beginners. Believe you me, they will certainly challenge your muscles.)

1) WALL SQUATS: Position the ball against the wall so that it fits into the curve of your back. As you press your back into the ball, position your feet hip-width apart and slightly forward so that when you squat your knees remain behind your toes. Squat until your feet are bent to 90 degrees, keeping your chest upright the entire time. Return to standing and repeat. (Works: Legs)

2) CHEST PRESSES: You'll want to position the ball underneath your shoulder blades to get maximum support for your head. Keep your glutes tight, creating a 90-degree bend at your knees and a straight line from neck to kneecap. Hold the weights, one in each hand. Bend your arms to 90 degrees and take them out to your side, right along your bustline. Press up and lower from here, never letting your elbows drop below your bustline. (Works: Chest, Abs, Glutes)

3) REVERSE FLYES: Lie face-down on the ball, positioning right underneath your chest. Bend your knees to keep yourself from rolling from side to side. With a weight in each hand, curve your arms around the ball. Palms facing in. Lift and lower your arms, keeping that nice curve the entire way, never going beyond parallel with your back. (Works: Back, Shoulders)

4) SEATED ABDUCTIONS: Have a seat with a weight in each hand. Arms at your side, straight, and with palms facing in. Lift and lower your arms straight out to the side, contracting your abs the entire time to help you stay stabilized on the ball. (Works: Shoulders, Abs)

5) SEATED HAMMER CURLS: Position yourself as above, curl the weights into your shoulders while keeping your palms facing in the entire way through. (Works: Biceps, Abs)

6) SEATED TRICEPS PRESS: Same position, hold a weight above your head with both hands. Keeping your elbows next to your ears, lower the weight behind you before extending the arms toward the ceiling. (Works: Triceps, Abs)

7) CRUNCHES: Lie on your back with your legs up on the ball, knees bent at 90 degrees. Your thighs should be perpendicular to the ground. Press your lower back into the ground, place your hands behind your head with your elbows out to the side. Keeping your elbows out there, lift your face up toward the ceiling by contracting your abs. Exhale at the top of the move, just when the shoulders are about to come off the ground. Relax and repeat. (Works: Abs)

8) LEG DROPS: Lie on your back with your legs up toward the ceiling. Position the ball between your feet, then put your hands underneath your glutes. Contract your abs as you lower the ball until it's about halfway to the ground. Return to start and repeat, keeping your chin tucked into your chest the entire time.

And there you have it! I wish you the best of luck...and if you get bored with this routine, send me an e-mail. I'd love to provide some additional options as you advance. There are so many ways to play with the stability ball. All of which can be completely effective in a fitness routine!

Question: What's your favorite stability ball move?

1 comment:

Heather said...

I've really not done much w/ a stability ball (other than crunches), but I have one so thanks for the ideas!

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