It is time for the great Swiss Ball debate! Every gym now has Swiss Balls. Mine has a rack with about 20 available so they can include them in certain classes. After a certain point you have to assume that Swiss Ball workouts are beneficial. Otherwise so many people wouldn’t be doing them right?
Perhaps, but this area is also up for some debate after seeing how people try to utilize the Swiss ball into their workouts. So let’s compare the pros versus the cons.
Swiss Ball Pros
- Excellent for Core Training – Doing a variety of exercises with a ball is great for your core (abdominals and lower back) as well as all of the supportive muscles in the area. Specifically abdominal work and lower back work involving the Swiss ball can be very productive and effective – far more than other floor exercises because of the range of motion. Also they can help with balance and stabilization training when incorporated as a seat or balance point for other exercises. Your body is forced to compensate during the exercise due to the less than stable nature of sitting on or leaning back on a round, soft ball. Doing things like dumbbell shoulder presses while sitting on a ball can be a nice addition.
- Useful for various positions – A soft ball is more malleable which then allows you to put yourself in many more positions compared to a stable bench. This will let you work at more angles and hit muscles differently than before.
- Fun – Sitting on a soft ball to workout is just fun. It is an instant challenge for balance. Also the seat is very soft and comfortable compared to a hard bench. But it does detract a bit from your image if you are a “serious” person in the gym.
Swiss Ball Cons
- Overused Concept – Too many people try to force the use of Swiss ball training into their routine. At best this should be used as a sort of “secondary” work and should never replace primary training on a muscle group. The lone exception to that statement is abdominals where Swiss ball training is excellent. While ball training does allow for those different angles, you can’t transform every exercise into a productive Swiss ball exercise. In some cases people turn a perfectly good exercise like the squat into something with a lesser range of motion, and thus lower effectiveness, with a Swiss ball.
- Not Always Safe – Some people try to use the ball in a manner that it is not meant for which creates an unsafe environment. The balls are not meant to be stood on or jumped upon.
The Swiss ball is another valuable tool to have in your arsenal. For certain things, such as abdominal work, the Swiss Ball is a supremely useful option. In fact if you aren’t using a Swiss ball in your abdominal and core routine then you should start. But you don’t need to incorporate them into every bit of training. That is like trying to shove a round ball into a square hole.