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We Love Strength Training: Totally Captivated with Stability Balls, Medicine Balls, Slam Balls, and the Bosu Ball Trainer!

Love is in the air! ❤️ Love of strength training that is! As we continue to celebrate the ‘Month of Love’, we thought it best to dive into the world of exercise balls: stability balls, medicine balls, slam balls, and the Bosu® Ball Balance Trainer! Incorporating balls into your strength training routine can add variety (always love a bit of spice!) and challenge to your workouts. Whether you are working on balance, power, or core strength, there is a ball out there that can help you reach your fitness goals! 💪


Stability Balls


Stability Ball and Kettlebells

Alayna here… I absolutely love using stability balls, especially for core work! As a runner, it is imperative to have a strong core and I attribute my strength to all the work I have done over the years with a stability ball. But don’t just take my word for it… “Adding stability ball exercises to a program helps give you the baseline of core strength you need to transmit force more effectively through your core.” [1] This is critical for taking excess load off the spine, as well as helping to prevent injuries. After this point, it feels like we don’t need to say more, but we will! 😉 Stability balls work to strengthen all parts of the core – abdominals and the lower back - which is important for stabilizing the spine. Strengthening the muscles that support your spinal structures can help to improve posture, strengthen the lower back, and reduce pain. [2]  Additionally, strengthening your core is beneficial for ensuring a healthy posture. “Regularly exercising with the [stability] ball helps you maintain the natural curve of your spine, which helps you to keep from arching your back and [in turn] protect the spine.” [2]


This feels a bit wild to say, but “the stability ball’s name is a bit of a misnomer — it’s actually very unstable… by using it as an exercise surface, your entire body will have to coordinate to keep yourself balanced.” [1] Alayna here again… I can really attest to the unstable nature of the stability ball, but that is what makes it such an excellent implement! Additionally, the stability ball is a great tool for calling attention to muscle imbalances, as you need to use all the sides of your body to keep yourself balanced and upright on the ball. Incorporating unilateral training (training one limb at a time instead of training both limbs at the same time) in your fitness training can combat these imbalances. Finally, the stability ball offers the ability to “extend your range of motion to ultimately boost your mobility. [1] Mobility is critical for living an overall healthy life, but as an athlete it is critical for being able to perform at your optimal level!


Medicine Balls


Medicine Balls

The fascinating facts are going to keep coming: medicine balls date back 3,000 years, as ancient drawings in Persia depicted wrestlers training with an archaic version of them. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates was known to rehabilitate patients with stuffed animal skin balls to help them recover from injury and other health related problems and illnesses. Additionally, it was thought that the Gladiators used medicine balls in preparation for battles in the arena! After that last point, we are totally sold on medicine balls, aren’t you? [3]


So, what makes medicine balls different from other training implements? The ability to build explosive power! “One of the benefits of medicine ball training is that it explores how force can be increased by accelerating the medicine ball, essentially moving a weight at high-speed”. [4] Let’s get a bit sciency here… think Newton’s Second Law: Force = Mass x Acceleration! “Acceleration in conjunction with mass is integral to force, and therefore key to increasing the ability to generate greater force effectively… the result is the build-up of explosive, powerful, whole-body strength.” [4] In addition, medicine ball training is great for rotational sports (i.e., baseball, tennis, and golf) as you can generate higher levels of explosive strength than with other training exercises.


Let’s expand further on the difference between medicine balls compared to other strength training implements. “Unlike traditional weight training using barbells and dumbbells, the twisting, turning, and bending of medicine ball exercises demands multiple muscle groups to engage at once: a form of compound and functional movement.” [4] Medicine ball exercises simulate movements that we use in everyday life and benefit cardiovascular health and weight loss, while building strength and power. The versatility of using medicine balls allows you to train through a larger range of motion and train the whole body while doing it. This whole-body training allows you to target larger groups of muscles at the same time – more bang for your buck! Just think of the benefits to your overall athletic performance!


One last benefit of incorporating medicine balls into your fitness routine: improving your posture and balance! “Good posture and spinal alignment depend on a strong core” [4] and using a medicine ball is a great way to strengthen your core. What we love most about medicine ball exercises is they are complex, total body exercises. Athletes “work the core muscles through a range of movements that impact balance, posture, and flexibility, whilst also training intermuscular coordination.” [4] Can you think of anything better!?! We think you would agree that incorporating medicine ball exercises into your fitness routine could prove to be quite powerful!


Slam Balls


Slam Balls

Slam balls are similar to medicine balls and carry the same benefits – increased strength and explosive power, increased functional fitness, and improved posture and balance. So, why would you want a slam ball? Slam balls are designed for slamming (and throwing!) and have sand or gel inside to keep them from bouncing back at you (like a medicine ball can). Slam balls also have a heavier outer shell so they can withstand the impact of throwing and slamming them. If you are looking to work on explosive power, core strength, and/or balance and posture, try incorporating a slam ball into your fitness routine.


Bosu® Ball Balance Trainer


“The Bosu® Balance Trainer provides a unique blend of stability and instability unlike any other product… the base is stable and rooted to the ground, and the dome provides a unique enriched proprioceptive training surface that is easy and safe enough for beginners to stand on, yet can be infinitely challenging for the most advanced athletes.” [5] The main focus of using a Bosu® ball is functional balance training. Functional balance training focuses on training movements or movement patterns rather than focusing on specific muscles. Functional balance training directly relates and translates to real-world activities and sports, as it uses total body dynamic movements to increase your balance, strength, and coordination. We are totally loving that!


The Bosu Ball Balance Trainer

Now, you may ask, why is balance training so important!?! Balance is an individual’s ability to keep equilibrium or body control when standing still or moving, either when your center of gravity or mass is over your base of support or not. Balance training helps to improve the mind-body connection – critical for everyday and sport life. “Balance-focused activities will challenge our bodies' vestibular and musculoskeletal systems as well as our proprioception.” [6] Think, our sense of body position and balance! To sum it up, improving your balance improves your way of life! 🤩


We are about to throw a pretty epic fitness benefit of using the Bosu® ball: invisible learning. “Invisible learning occurs via proprioceptive feedback that is provided instantly with regard to positioning, mobility, stability, body control and force/power output… the body can ‘figure out’ how to correct poor movement patterning and movement faults… because of a constant barrage of nonverbal proprioceptive feedback provided to the user when exercising on the BOSU®® Balance Trainer.” [5] Put simply, invisible learning is a process and as you increase your strength, balance, and coordination capabilities, your body learns how to maintain more optimal positioning during movement patterns. Your body also learns how to correct movement faults while performing an exercise without the need of a cue from a coach or trainer. Totally epic, right!?! Yeah, we thought so! 


 

Wow! Strength training with exercise balls is a powerful tool for anyone looking to improve their balance, posture, flexibility, power, and core strength (yes, please)! Remember, when it comes to strength training, it is essential to proceed with caution and proper technique – emphasis on the latter! Working with a certified personal trainer or coach can be an excellent way to ensure proper form and steady progression of exercises. So, don’t hesitate to include strength training with exercise balls in your workout routine - it's an enjoyable and fulfilling approach to enhancing your overall health and wellness!


If you are in the market for some new strength training equipment and are not sure where to start, reach out to us and we would be more than happy to discuss options with you!


Happy Sunday and all our love! ❤️ Kelly and Alayna


References

[1] Stolfa, M. (2023). 6 Benefits of the Stability Ball to Boost Your Balance and Range of Motion. BarBend. https://barbend.com/benefits-of-the-stability-ball/

[2] Health and Care. (n.d.). Benefits of Using an Exercise Ball. Health and Care. https://www.healthandcare.co.uk/blog/benefits-of-using-an-exercise-ball.html

[4] Hughes, L. (20202). 9 Benefits of Medicine Ball Training. ORIGYM. https://origympersonaltrainercourses.co.uk/blog/benefits-of-medicine-ball

[5] Brooks, D. (2023). Bosu Balance Training Science, Function and Results. Bosu. https://www.bosu.com/blogs/news/bosu-balance-training-science-function-results

[6] Primal Play. (2019). 8 Benefits of Balance Training. Primal Play. https://www.primalplay.com/blog/8-benefits-of-balance-exercises


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