Many exercises in the gym require lying down on a bench in order to work particular muscles against gravity or to attain appropriate range of movement. Exercises such as Pec Flys , Lat Pull Overs , and Over Head Triceps extensions are just some of those done reclined on a bench. For personal trainers this is not always the ideal support tool for two main reasons ; comfort is not always at a premium and , more importantly benches are rarely found in parks, homes or other alternative PT venues to the crowded gym room.
Fitball offers a fantastic alternative for several reasons :
- It is mobile and can be easily used as a support in virtually any location.
- Lying supine on the ball is more comfortable than a narrow, hard bench.
- Using the fitball instead of a bench, or other stable surface requires use of additional muscle groups, in particular the lumbar and pelvic stabilisers. In order to hold the ball and body still whilst performing exercises such as chest press , contraction of spinal stabilisers ( transverse abdominous and multifidous) and the pelvic stabilisers ( in particular gluteals) is required. This fantastic secondary strengthening turns an ordinary exercise into a sensational one with the added benefit of core stabilisation and extra toning. Weights may have to be decreased as the challenge is certainly intensified by stabilising on the fitball.
The benefits of using the fitball as a bench alternative are many:
- Increased training location options
- Multiple benefits in one exercise
- Incorporating important injury preventative stabilisation training
- Increased challenge
- Strengthens areas other than those obviously intended ( no one wants a sloppy bum!)
POSITIONING SUPINE ON THE BALL
- Begin by sitting on the ball, holding the weights that are to be used.
- Walk feet out slowly, and lie back at the same time.
- Stop when shoulder blades are on top of the ball
- Put head back and the ball will be there to support the head and neck
- Always ensure that the head, neck and shoulder girdle are well supported, avoid neck flexion ( from walking too far out )
This is not the right way!
- or neck extension ( from not coming far enough out such that the head is hanging back over the ball).
This is not the right way!
- Check the knees are at ninety degrees to avoid over flexion, and raise hips to create horizontal thighs.
- Holding the hips up, level with the torso and knees, provides fantastic gluteal strengthening ( encourage to push up through the heels) and holding the ball and body still laterally adds to the core stabilisation.
Any exercise done on a bench is an option here, try these three:
LAT PULL OVER
Most people are surprised at the increased challenge created by stabilising against weighted movement and also the amount of lumbar and pelvic muscular control required.