The Swiss ball, we have all seen this big round ball in the gym but do we really know how to use it properly? Known by many names such as a stability ball, exercise ball, yoga ball, physio-ball etc. The Swiss ball is a round inflatable ball ranging from 35-85 cm in diameter filled with air. When used properly it is sure to provide a full body sculpting workout.

The Swiss ball was invented by an Italian engineering manufacturer named Aquilino Cosani. The idea of a Swiss ball came first from a toy invented by Cosani called the ‘Gymnastik” or the “Gymnic”. The Gymnastik was a Swiss ball with a handle on which kids could bounce. The toy was sold throughout Europe for years before being developed into the product we know today.

An English physical therapist Mary Quinton discovered these Gymnastik balls while practicing in Bern, Switzerland. Quinton began using them in her pediatric treatment programs for newborns and infants with Cerebral Palsy. Using a neurological method known as the Bobath Method, Quinton and other therapists developed stroke and neuromuscular rehabilitation programs using the Gymnastik.

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The Gymnastik was further developed by, Dr. Susan Klein-Vogelbach a physical therapy director based in Basel, Switzerland. Dr. Klein Vogelbach was the first to use the balls with adults with orthopedic problems.

Although it has an Italian origin American Physical Therapists created the term “Swiss balls” after the use by their Swedish predecessors. In 1989 physical therapist Joanne Posner-Mayer brought the advantages of the Swiss ball to American physical therapists. Today athletic trainers, strength coaches, personal trainers and physical therapists around the world use stability balls in fitness and rehab programs.

Stability is a major part of the foundation of functional movement and resistance training. The goal of most healthy individuals is to develop postural stability without compromising mobility at any point in the kinetic chain of the body.

Joint stability in the body is defined as the ability to maintain or control joint movement or position. Joints in the body that need to be stable include the lumbar spine, pelvis, thoracic spine, and shoulder. Not only can you increase core stability using the Swiss ball you can also work on the stability of other joints in the body.

When there is a lack of stability in a joint it compromises the joint and opens it to injury. Creating this stability helps to improve body mechanics and can also sculpt your body into a toned machine.

The largest benefit of working with a Swiss ball is the increase load/intensity it provides in your workout. As opposed to working on a flat even surface an unstable surface forces the body to use its stabilizing muscles.

These synergist muscles assist your large muscle groups by supporting healthy body mechanics. Swiss Ball training is proven to enhance neuromuscular and cardiovascular function. It is also reported to be better method compared to conventional abdominal training for the development of a stable core musculature.

The Swiss ball is used in many settings for various uses. Including physical therapy clinics, gyms, athletic training, sports, and even in homes. The main focus has been on the core trunk stabilizers. Strengthening the trunk muscles has proven to have many health benefits.

Training these stabilizing muscles increase core strength preventing injury commonly linked with core strength such as herniated disc or low back injury.

Using the stability ball can increase your core stability and overall stability in the body. This Swiss ball has developed from a toy to a rehab tool and continues to grow today. Although the Swiss ball was developed for other purposes, it can provide a full body sculpting workout.

Swiss ball wall squat 

Stand with the exercise ball propped between your lower (lumbar) spine and a wall, pressing slightly into the ball. With hands at your sides or on hips, check that your feet are hip-width apart and slightly in front of you.

Bending at your knees and hips, slowly move into a sitting position with your knees over your ankles. Keep the ball in contact with your back as you move.

Return to standing position, keeping the ball in contact with your back as you move.

Repeat 10-15 times.

Swiss Ball Wall Squat

Swiss ball bridges 

Sit on the exercise ball with your hands on your hips or crossed on your chest.

Walk forward, gradually rolling the ball out until it supports your head and shoulders, instead of your buttocks. As you roll out, be sure to keep your weight on top of the ball.

Form a flat “tabletop” with your hips, shoulders, and knees aligned — and your feet flat on the floor, directly under your knees.

Without moving the ball, lower and lift your hips, tightening muscles in your buttocks and backs of your thighs.

Repeat 10-15 times.

Swiss ball hamstring curls 

Lie supine on floor with lower legs on exercise ball. Extended arms out to sides. Straighten low back, knees, and hips, raising back and hips off of floor.

Keeping hips and low back straight, bend knees, pulling heels toward rear end. Allow feet to rollup on to ball. Lower to original position by straightening knees.

Repeat 10-15 times.

Swiss Ball Pushups 

Lie face down with the exercise ball underneath your belly and your palms flat on the floor.

Use your hands to walk out to a plank position, resting the ball anywhere from your hips to your ankles. (This should be a position that provides for a challenging push-up, but allows your spine to stay aligned – with ears, shoulders, and hips in a line.)

Bend your elbows to lower your upper body toward the floor, keeping your shoulders away from your ears and your abdominal muscles engaged.

Repeat 10-15 times.

Swiss Ball Pushups

Swiss ball I’s, Y’s, & T’s 

Get on your hands and knees with the exercise ball pressing into your hips and thighs.

Keep toes down and knees bent, but lift your knees slightly off the floor. Tightening your abdominal muscles, try to lift your arms out to the sides of your body (into a T position).

Then slowly move your arms forward (into a Y position) and then straight out overhead (into an I position). Maintain a neutral spine with strong abdominals and shoulders out of the ears.

Repeat 10-15 times in each T, Y, and I position.

Swiss ball sit ups 

Lie with your middle back on the exercise ball, feet flat on the floor shoulder-width apart, and hands behind your head.

Lift your upper body up, using your abdominal muscles, not your neck. Do not pull with your hands.

Repeat 10-15 times. 

Swiss Ball Back Extension 

Lie facedown on a stability ball, hands behind your head, feet against a sturdy object. Squeeze your glutes and lift your torso up until your body forms a straight line. Hold for one or two seconds. Slowly return to start.

Repeat 10-15 times.

Also check out this Total body transformation Swiss ball workout

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