JOE's post-workout tips: Essential Swiss ball exercises
Everyone is back in the gym causing queues and havoc, so here's a handy routine that you can do with just a few pieces of equipment
It's January, so that means everyone and their mother (sometimes quite literally) is back in the gym trying to get fit and get in shape for the New Year. That means that your time in there is precious, so instead of queuing up and waiting to get on a machine, why not try a few of these Swiss ball exercises. It's a great piece of equipment that you can use when training your core, legs, and upper body, so it should definitely be part of your routine.
Swiss ball knee tuck
This move requires a little bit of balance, but is great for training your core and abs. Placing your hands on the ground, like you would if you were doing a pushup, place your legs on top of the exercise ball. It's easiest to do this one at a time and to try to maintain your balance through the move, and you can take a few seconds to make sure you're stable before you try the exercise. The ball should on your shins, resting in the curve of your ankle.
As you can see from the image, the next move is to bring your knees towards your chest, making sure that you maintain a neutral spine and then return to the starting position, and don't let your hips sink down. Perform this exercise in a slow and controlled movement, and you'll definitely feel it. Do three sets of 10-12 reps.
Another great one for your core, this one will also take a little bit of practice when it comes to balance. Placing the ball between your feet, lift your legs straight up from the ground, bringing you arms up to meet it. This will involve a crunch at your abs to reach up and grab the ball from your legs.
At the top of the movement, pass the ball between your legs and your hands, and then lower the ball (now in your hands) back towards the ground, straight out above your head. Your arms and your feet should not touch the ground, and then go back towards the middle where you will repeat the movement and pass the ball from your hands to your feet this time. When you're back with the ball between your legs near the ground, then you're at the starting position again. That's one rep, do three sets of 8-10, depending on what you can manage.
Swiss Ball Chest Press
The benefits of using the exercise ball instead of a bench is that it allows your shoulders to move a bit more freely and react to your movement than when you're on a bench. For this exercise, elevate your hips and keep a tight core when lifting. The dumbbells should be above your chest, with your hands and elbows in the same line. Make sure that you have a comfortable weight on the dumbbell. It should still be taxing but concentrate on form and make sure you have that right, as with all exercises the technique is the most important thing.
Don't bounce your elbows or arms off the exercise ball to get a boost on the way up, you should once again look to control the movement both up and down, and make sure to keep your breathing consistent too, breathing out on the way up. You can do this single arm or both at the same time, but we find that if you do single arm in a circuit, with three sets of ten reps on each arm, you definitely feel it.
Dumbbell Pull Over
Your starting position for this exercise will be at the top of the range of movement of a bench press, with the weights in your hands above your chest. From there, make sure that your hips are up, your core is tight and engaged, and bring the weights back over your head until they straight out, as if you were trying to stretch your arms above your head.
Add weight if you feel like it's not difficult enough, or you can switch to heavy weight with one dumbbell instead of using two. Again, concentrate on getting the form (you should feel it in your core, chest and lats) before progressing. Do three sets of twelve.
Swiss Ball Dumbbell Curls
These are pretty simple to do, as they are regular curls with dumbbells, but there's the added bonus of engaging your core by sitting on the exercise ball and trying to balance.
This simply involves more muscles groups and as you tire, this will become more difficult. Make sure that you pick a weight that you can do about 10-15 reps, and timing will be key here. Concentrate on the negative movements and lower the weight slowly, over the space of three seconds, before starting again.
One of the key factors with any workout program is nutrition, as we've already mentioned, and you need to make sure you get some protein to help maintain and grow muscle mass. For something that’s delicious, try Mooju chocolate milk. With over 10g of protein in a 250ml container, as well as carbohydrate, Mooju is a great choice for your workout.