How to Select the Right Weighted Exercise Ball
As with so many day-to-day activities impacted by COVID, the way we exercise and work out has changed. Gyms are closed, then they are open—then they are off-limits once again. So, people are staying in shape however they can. For many, that means stocking a home gym (or even a corner of the living room) with exercise equipment.
Forbes tells us that, in 2020, people were making fitness equipment purchases to the tune of $9.49 billion—a 40 percent increase in spending from 2019. Deciding what to purchase is relatively easy—just read the reviews and “best-of” articles from trusted sources.
Actually using the equipment, well, that can be a bit more nuanced. Unless you really paid attention when your trainer handed you a piece of equipment or kept your own gym log, you probably don't remember the weight you used for each exercise. Not just that, but now you have no one to tell you whether or not your form is right.
We can’t help you with your form, but we can offer some guidance regarding medicine balls—also known as therapy balls, physio balls, or exercise balls.
Key Elements to Consider When Selecting a Physio Ball
Your exercise ball should be just heavy enough to make you work up a sweat and cause your movements to slow. You want to avoid getting a heavier ball than you need; it should be light enough that you can still safely control your motions and balance.
When selecting weighted equipment, the American Council on Exercise tells us the “ball must be heavy enough to visibly slow the motion, but not so heavy that control, accuracy, or range of motion are lessened.”
The American Council on Exercise also notes that 4 to 15 pounds is often a good range for those just starting out. The University of Arkansas (PDF) expands on that advice suggesting that the medicine ball’s weight should also correspond to 30 to 50 percent of the one-repetition maximum for a similar strength training exercise. (A one-repetition maximum is the total weight with which you can perform only one repetition of a specific activity.)
Let’s look at that again without all the jargon. If you pick up a 25-pound dumbbell and can only do one squat, you’re going to want an exercise ball that is somewhere between 7 and 12 pounds. If you don’t have free weights lying around to help with those calculations, the University of Arkansas has more advice. They say 4 to 10 pound balls are often used for tossing exercises. Exercise balls in the 8 to 15 pound range are well suited for abdominal exercises, and heavier ones can be used for lower body exercises since the lower body has bigger muscles.
Here’s another way to look at it: small, lightweight exercise balls are great when your exercise routine is focused on power and endurance. The heavier balls are better for building strength.
Exercising Safely with Medicine Balls
First, we recommend following the advice from the Mayo Clinic that says, “Regular exercise can help you control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease, and strengthen your bones and muscles. But if it’s been a while since you’ve exercised and you have health issues or concerns, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.”
Now, let’s talk form. How do you know you’re doing the exercise correctly if no one is there to watch you?
Some experts recommend taking a video of yourself to watch later to determine if you were doing the exercise properly. Others recommend exercising in front of a mirror. All those mirrors along the walls in gyms aren’t for your vanity; they are there to check your form.
And by all means, stop exercising if you feel pain. We’re not talking about the normal muscle pain that goes along with a good workout, but any significant pain you experience while working out.
Enter the SPHERA2.0 medicine ball with water. As you move the ball or try to hold it steady, the water inside shifts. To maintain proper form, your muscles will work harder as you try to keep the ball balanced. These constant muscular micro-adjustments enhance strength and stability, increasing the effectiveness of your workout.
Whether you are a beginner looking to make a change, a seasoned athlete, an athletic trainer, or a physical therapist, the SPHERA exercise ball is a simple tool that will challenge the whole body. The therapy ball reimagined, if you will.
It is perfect for home use and surprisingly affordable. The SPHERA ball is ideal for building muscle in the arms, legs, and core, as well as for rehabilitation after injury. It’s a ball with infinite possibilities.
Available in seven sizes and weights ranging from 1 to 11 pounds, there is a SPHERA physio ball for every exercise and warm-up.