You bounce on it, roll on it and it even flattens your belly.
The stability ball has become a fitness class staple, but these inflated rubber spheres also help make your workout routines a little more intense.
"Stability balls are great for making exercises more effective," says L.A. Russell, lead trainer at Studio Lagree in Toronto. "What the ball does is act as a tool for activating additional muscles to stabilize, which makes any exercise more challenging even for those in outstanding physical condition."
If you're shopping for a ball, one size doesn't fit all. Russell says ideally, you should be able to sit on the ball comfortably with your feet planted on the floor.
"The shorter you are in stature, the smaller your stability ball should be, and vice versa," she tells The Huffington Post Canada.
Specific height is another great way to choose a ball. According to About.com writer Paige Waehner, anyone between the height of 4'11" and 5'4" should get a 55 cm ball, 5'5" to 5'11" should get a 65 cm ball and anyone above 6'0" should stick to a ball 75 cm or taller. Waehner adds, if you're worried about your weight, some exercise balls can hold up to 600 pounds — just read the fine print.
Some exercises, Russell says, work better with a ball in general. For example, if you're trying to challenge yourself with push-ups, use the ball to help you balance and build strength. Russell says even though a mat offers great support for flexibility, it does have its limitations.
"There are limits to the cardiovascular and endurance benefits on the mat," she says. "Once you add a stability ball into the mix you activate additional muscles to complete the same exercise."
And with reports on poor posture, more and more people are replacing their office chairs with bouncy balls. And sure, sitting a ball all day can be a little distracting for others around you (and maybe yourself too), but FitSugar.com says it can help with posture, strengthening your core and inspiring you to stretch.
So what are you waiting for? Get ready to work your arms, legs and core with these 10 best stability ball exercises:
The Roll Out:
HOW TO: Start in a plank position with your elbows on the ball. Roll your arms outwards to stretch your core and triceps, says L.A. Russell, lead trainer at Studio Lagree in Toronto.
HOW TO: Go into a plank position with your hands on the ball. Next, lift your right leg up for 30 seconds, return to neutral. Repeat and switch legs.\
Plank To Pike:
HOW TO: Put your shins on the ball in plank position and your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders. Using your core muscles, lift your hips up to the ceiling and tuck your head to look at your knees.
HOW TO: Follow the same position as the previous exercise, but this time, instead of piking up, bring your knees into your chest and back out.
HOW TO: Get your shins on the ball in plank position and lower the chest all the way to the ground and back up. Keep your back straight and your head forward.
HOW TO: Keeping the same push-up position, lift your left leg up as high as you can with your toe pointed out, and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on the right side.
HOW TO: Keep the ball in between your feet and bring your legs up to a 90-degree angle. Drop your legs to the right, pause, and come back to a neutral position. Repeat on left side.
HOW TO: Lie face up with your arms out to the side and your heels on the ball. As you sit up, bring your straight arms forward and hold for five to 10 seconds and lie back down.
HOW TO: Stand slightly in front of the ball with your legs shoulder-width apart. Next, squat down till your butt touches the ball, then stand up again.
Squats Part Two:
HOW TO: Keep the same position as the previous exercise, but this time keep the ball in your hands. Squat down until your thighs are 90 degrees and lift your toes to ensure your weight is in your heels. Stand up and repeat.