There are some very simple, cheap exercise equipment you can use at home and some very complex and expensive ones. Expensive, certainly does not mean better. Today we will look at a simple, often overlooked one, which you can use for a pretty good workout. Wait for it…aaa fitness ball! Come now, I know you’ve seen it at the gym or on tv…ahhh, fine here’s a pic of one. No, she does not come with the ball. This is a really versatile piece of equipment, with the potential for working many body parts, if you’re creative enough. You can work the hamstrings, quads, abs, arms, chest, back and you can use it for stretching. But it only works if you use it (can’t just buy one and leave it to gather dust…sigh). So, away we go. Here are some of the best exercises you can do with a fitness ball.
Wall Squats with fitness ball Here is a different take on squats, no weights, just you and your ball. Place the ball so that it is between your lower back and the wall. Your legs should be about 12″ in front of you and about shoulder width apart. Squat to parallel and then straight back up. With the ball rolling between you and the wall, it’s easy on the back and doesn’t take anything away from working the quads. Try 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps. As always, if this is too much, then scale it back and work up to it gradually. For a greater challenge if this is too easy, hold one leg out in front of you as you squat. You can even hold dumbbells in your hand as you squat for added resistance.
Fitness ball hamstring curls No mystery about what’s being worked in this exercise. The name says it all. Believe me when I tell you this is an excellent exercise for the hamstrings. Try doing just 1 set of 15-20 of these and tell me you don’t feel the burn. Start on the ground with your heels on the fitness ball. Raise your hips off the ground, pull your legs towards you as much as possible, then extend them again for 1 rep.
Try 3 sets of 10-12 reps to start and increase as you go along. If it is too difficult, keep the back lower to the ground and raise the hips so that it is just off the floor. Your abs get a workout too as you must engage them to keep the hips off the floor throughout the exercise.
Fitness ball knee tuck/ Jacknife Sorta like the reverse of a hamstring curl. This time hands on the floor with feet/shins up on the ball facing downwards. This exercise will give you a good ab workout. A nice addition to any workout routine which gives some variety when you’re tired of those boring old squat.
Pull the knees toward the chest until heels touch the butt or as close as you can. Pause and then push back out and return to the start position for a single rep. Try 3 sets of 10-15, and as always adjust accordingly if it is to0 easy or hard.
Fitness ball crunch Tired of the same boring crunches, well here is a variation of them using the fitness ball. These crunches actually engage more of the abdominal muscles than regular crunches  and gives much better back support than the traditional ones. Muscle activity is generally greater for upper and lower abs as well as the obliques. Check out the video below to see how to do an effective Fitness ball crunch.
Back extensions with fitness ball This exercise targets the erector spinae which runs up and down your back next to the vertebral column. Position the fitness ball under your hips with your hands behind your head and eyes to the floor. Keep the legs extended. Roll down over the ball and then extend upwards. Try about 2-3 sets of 10 and see what it feels like. If too easy then just add more reps or sets.
Fitness ball push-ups Okay, with this one, you could just use a chair or a bed, but since you already have a fitness ball, we’ll just use this. Besides you can’t pack a chair or bed every time you travel (at least not one that’s the right height). Just place your leg on the ball, place your hands on the floor and bend the elbows to go down and push back up. A great exercise for the chest and triceps. Another variation, has your feet on the floor and hands on the ball itself, while you lower your chest to the ball and push back up. Both very challenging exercises.
Summary These are not by any means the only exercises you can do with a fitness ball. There are many variations to the ones I have here, as well as other exercises. The ones that involve the use of dumbbells have been left out on purpose, to keep it as simple as possible. The fitness ball is such a handy portable exercise tool which can be easily stored (just deflate) and setup (just inflate) when needed. It allows for a complete body workout with the right series of exercises. Stay tuned, I will add more exercises in the future. If you are interested in acquiring a fitness ball you can get them on both ebay and amazon. Don’t forget to like and friend on facebook.
P.S. The Healthy Goat can’t seem to wrap his head around the fitness ball…which is essentially the problem. He had pierced 3 fitness balls at that point with his razor sharp horns. He was last spotted being thrown out of a local gym for destroying another fitness ball…4 so far.