"Most say as you get old you have to give
I say you get old because you give up things."
Theodore F. Green
Round Out Your Workouts with a Stability Ball
By Ian Cohen
If Christopher Columbus had tried to sculpt and strengthen
his body back in the day, you'd better believe he wouldn't have used some FLAT
old bench during his workouts. Unfortunately, historians have seemed more
interested in chronicling his travel exploits than
his training methods, so we'll never really know if the man who discovered the
world was round also discovered the roundness of fitness apparatus. And while there is no evidence that Chris ever attempted to balance
his behind on an inflated ball while fine-tuning his washboard abs, there is
proof that a globular training tool can work wonders for your entire body.
The stability ball (or Swiss ball as it is commonly called)
is rolling into more and more workout spaces, and bringing some much-needed
shape to our typically flat routines. Aside from providing a fun, new approach
to fitness, this plump piece of equipment presents the perfect platform for
strengthening all your muscles, especially the all-important core. What was
once performed strictly on a level surface can now be done on something
more cylindrical, thanks to the advent of this unique training device. As a
matter of fact, the stability ball can be used to perform such exercise
favorites as curls, flys, back extensions, dips,
presses, crunches, and even squats. The truth is, if you can do it on a bench
or the floor, you can do it on a stability ball. But before you end up sailing
headfirst through your living room wall, be sure to follow the specific
instructions set forth by Beachbody's director of
fitness and certified personal trainer, Steve Edwards.
"The reason it's called a stability ball is because the
added energy you need to balance on the ball requires the use of smaller
stabilizer muscles that are often not engaged during your workout," says
Edwards. "While the benefits are great, this does require you pay closer
attention to what you are doing. Always use a weight that you can easily
control. And don't get caught up in the desire to heft large amounts of iron.
These movements are all about control. It's not about excessive muscle growth,
but balanced muscle growth."
Stability ball benefits:
5 Ways to
Use Your Stability Ball
- Better balance
- Stronger core muscles
- A tighter midsection
- Greater flexibility
- Leaner muscle mass
- Enhanced coordination
- Improved posture
- An extra chair
Important: Never attempt to stand on a
stability ball. When using dumbbells during an exercise on the stability ball,
be sure to start off with much lighter weight than you would normally use on a
flat surface. Your primary focus should be maintaining your balance on the
ball. Once you're confident with your balance, you can gradually increase the
dumbbell weight. Keep in mind, you will most likely never be able to lift as
much weight as you can on a flat surface; however, you will enhance your
overall performance by developing stronger and more powerful core and
- Back Extensions (Focus: lower back no weights) Place
your belly on the ball, legs extended straight out with toes on the floor.
Clasp hands behind your head and allow body to drop "into" the ball.
In a slow, controlled motion, raise your upper body until you create a slight
arch in your back. Return to starting position and repeat.
- Dumbbell Press (Focus: chest using dumbbells) Lie
with your midback on the ball, legs bent at the
knees, and feet firmly on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, slightly
above shoulder level. Press dumbbells straight up toward the ceiling. Slowly
lower dumbbells back to the starting position and repeat.
- Wall Squat (Focus: legs no weights) Place
the ball between your lower back and a wall, keeping feet hip-width apart. With
arms dangling at sides, slowly lower body and squat into seated position. Stop
when your knees are bent 90 degrees. Proceed to raise your body back up in a
- Curls (Focus: biceps using dumbbells) Sit
straight up on the ball with a dumbbell in each hand. Maintain your balance and
keep elbows in as you curl both arms simultaneously. Lower in a controlled
manner until arms are straight down at sides.
- Crunches (Focus: stomach no weights) Lie
so entire back is resting on the ball. Keep knees bent 90 degrees and feet flat
on the floor. Lock hands behind head and proceed to bring chest towards your
pelvis, until your upper back is off the ball. Slowly return to starting
position and repeat.
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Picking a Workout Shoe
By Andrea Pesce
Shoes were once designed to protect and support the
foot. But when they don't fit properly, you don't get the support you need. Ask
any woman how her foot feels after dancing the night away in stilettos! Poor
shoe fit can restrict joint movement and circulation to your foot, cause
blisters, and eventually even bunions. Here are a few tips to help you pick the
- Measure your feet. As we age, our feet keep growing. Measure
them every time you buy new shoes. While your shirt size may not change, your
shoe size will!
- Fit your shoes to your larger foot. Most people have one foot
that is larger than the other.
- Leave some room to spare. Make sure you have at least 3/8
to 1/2 an inch of space past your longest toe when you try them on. If you are
getting running shoes, you may want a bit more room for your foot to swell as
you run, and so you don't hit your toes while running downhill.
- Always try the shoes on! Manufacturers vary in their
sizing and even if you're buying the same brand of shoes you normally do, the
sizing may have changed since last season.
- Don't expect shoes to stretch. If they are too tight anywhere,
don't buy them.
- Get shoes that are shaped the same as your foot. If you
have a wide instep or narrow heel, you can find a company that makes a shoe
that works for you. For sport shoes, many running stores have knowledgeable
staff that can recommend the best brand for your foot.
- Your heel should not slip up and down as you walk. If you
have very narrow heels, you can try to insert a pad that helps prevent
- Try them out. Walk in both shoes in the store, and spend a few
minutes to be sure they are comfortable after the first impression. A good
running store will have a treadmill and can analyze your gait.
- If you wear orthotics, never buy shoes without
trying them inside. They use up a lot of extra space and you'll likely
need the next size up.
- Consider inserts if the arch support isn't enough for you.
- Avoid heels (sorry ladies), especially if you're on your feet
all day. If you must wear them, go low for daytime and save the stilettos for
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