Updated: December 2017

Exercise Ball Reviews:

Seems like every few years they come up with something new in the field of exercise and exercise equipment. Whether it is machines like Nautilus equipment, stair climbers, elliptical trainers, treadmills, you name it - or special tools for firming your abs or thighs or buns, there is always something being promoted as the newest, greatest answer to all your exercise, weight loss, and toning needs. The last few years a popular new piece of equipment has been the exercise ball and the concept of building and strengthening your core muscles. Your "core" is the central area of your body (within your torso) where all body movement originates -- that is why the concpet of core training and core workouts can form a basic building block of your exercise routine. With a strong core, everything else is easier!

exercise ball

Check out our guide below to how exercise balls help improve your core muscles, what the best core workouts are, where you can get workout plans and exercise charts for exercise balls, and much more. Once you incorporate some core workouts into your routine, you'll find yourself feeling stronger and more prepared for the rest of your routine.

Benefits of core workout

Since your torso and pelvis form your body's "core" and center of gravity, toning this area provides additional support for the rest of your body - hips, back, while providing greater stability and balance for your entire body. Many core workouts involve the use of an exercise ball. What is a fitness ball? A fitness ball, or exercise ball, is basically a giant sized inflatable rubber ball that is big enough and sturdy enough for you to sit on, lean against, and lay your body upon. A keep concept in core training is balance - the rounded ball shape requires a constant flexing and balancing of all your core muscles to keep from rolling over. If you belong to a gym, you can probably sign up for a exercise ball class for core training. If not, you can pick up an exercise video, book, or magazine to get some ideas on how to workout with your exercise ball - however, we feel it is worthwhile to spend at least a little time with someone, in person, who is experienced with fitness ball workouts to get off to a good start, and learn important safety rules to keep from getting injured.

Beginners are recommended to start with the ball up against a wall or other object on one side to provide some additional stability as you first start your core routines - falling off the side of the ball and hitting your head or twisting your ankle or back will put a real crimp in your exercise routine. RECOMMENDED - Go online and see their complete line of top rated exercise balls.

Core Muscles

Your main core muscles include the external obliques (sides of your stomach), internal obliques (under the ext. obl.), abdominals (rectus and transverse, mostly the front of your abdomen), erector spinae (neck and back), the hip flexors, and lower trapezius. Your core muscles aid in transferring power between your upper and lower body. What kind of core exercises can I do? Getting yourself into a push-up position, on your toes, leaning on your elbows and forearms rather than hands, is called the "plank" position and is a good core exercise. You can also do crunches by leaning your lower back into your exercise ball, knees bent with feet flat on the floor, and then pull your upper torso forward by contracting your abdominals. Again, by using the ball, you need to also bring your obliques into this movement to keep your balance and remain steady - a benefit lost by working out on a floor mat instead of a ball. Another popular exercise is the bridge. Lay flat on your back with your knees bent, arms beside you with palms on the floor. Then raise your hips up into the air, trying to make a flat angle of your body from your knees down to your head, and hold them there for about 6-10 seconds. Lower and repeat.

Best Exercise Ball

One of the original designers of the fitness ball is ResistABall.com. They call their balls stability balls, but they are all the same concept. From their website: "Resist-A-Ball brand stability balls are effective for increasing core strength and stability. These exercise balls provide a total body workout ranging from upper body to abdominal crunches and lower body exercises that enhance the legs and hips. Progressions allow the athlete to perform a variety of balance, core training, strength, flexibility and rehabilitation exercises." Their balls come in 6 sizes and are very affordable - the 30cm version (for people under 4 foot 6) is just $16, and the largest 85cm models (for people taller than 6 foot 7) are $37. You can buy a manual foot pump for inflating your ball for $8, and a set of 32 color flashcards that demonstrate proper exercises is $10. For some exercise ideas, visit the exercise and article section of their site. You can also check out ProForm.com for a simple beginner kit that includes a 65cm stability ball, pilates workout video, 2 3-lb hand weights, a ball pump and base ring, all for just $25. Amazon.com offers a pretty big selection of exercise balls from a lot of manufacturers - Cando, SPRI, Gymnic, Fitball, Gaiam, Valeo, Hugger Mugger, Everlast, and more. Prices range from about $15-$50.

What is the best exercise ball? I'm not sure there is a "best" - most are built in the same way and are designed to withstand the weight of 700lbs or more, so they are more than adequate for the average person looking for a workout tool. Amazon also carries a number of fitness ball and pilates workout videos - like Quick Fix - Stability Ball Workout for $10 or the On the Ball Pilates Workout for Beginners for $14 or the Kathy Smith - TimeSaver Shaper Ball Workout for $13. These home videos and DVDs give you options from introductory and beginner workouts, right on through the advance level. RECOMMENDED - For those that want a Balance Ball Chair to use at work consider the Isokinetics one for $75 or the award winning Gaiam Balance Ball Chair (Black). Both are designed to improve your back health and the balance ball is similar to those found at your gym.