// Bands and balls

by Lisa Westlake

Combining Fitball exercises with bands or tubes adds convenience and variety to resistance and stability training. Both are lightweight, easily transportable and inexpensive, and their combined versatility and ease of use make them an ideal combination for group and one-on-one exercise programs. The Fitball facilitates improved balance and spinal, pelvic and shoulder girdle stability. It also provides support in several positions, allowing muscles to be worked through a full range of movement, while the body is well positioned and clean technique is assured. The use of Xertubes, Ultra-toners and Lex Loops provide unlimited potential for effective muscle conditioning. Combining balls with elasticised resistance opens up an enormous range of exercise options.

Benefits of fitball

• Motivates by providing variety and challenge
• Provides support and improved posture in a range of positions (bench, seat, prone, supine)
• Allows for clean isolation of muscles and full range of movement
• Prevents tricking (recruitment of the wrong muscle group to do an exercise) and poor exercise technique
• Ensures stabilisation training is a component of virtually every exercise

Benefits of bands and tubes

• Convenient, portable and lightweight
• Safe and user friendly
• Applicable to all variations of resistance work – isometrics, eccentric and concentric
• Add variety to any workout

1. Seated biceps curl Uses Fitball and Xertube

Upper body strength and stability unite.

Position: Sitting on ball, the middle of the band under both feet.

Action: Bicep curl, flexing elbow through full range, in supination (photo 1).

Teaching tips: Engage core abdominals and maintain length and alignment through spine. Keep the ball and your back still.
A common tendency is to tense the hip flexors rather than engage transversus abdominis – relaxing the hips will encourage improved core recruitment.

Variation: Raise one leg for added core challenge, making sure you keep the other leg relaxed (photo 2).



2. Lateral raise Uses Fitball and Xertube

Deltoids and core control.

Position: Sitting tall on the Fitball, with the middle of the band under both feet.

Action: Raise your arms laterally to shoulder height, with elbows slightly flexed (photo 3).

Teaching tips: Set abdominals, maintain stable ball.

Variation: Raising one leg adds challenge to core control. Performing a single arm lateral is also more challenging to stability. Raising one arm and the leg on the same side is harder again (photo 4).



3. Unilateral lat pull down Uses Fitball and Ultra-toner

An effective way to combine lat strengthening with core control.

Position: Sitting on ball, holding the Ultra-toner or a looped exercise band in both hands, above head (photo 5).

Action: Set your scapulae down and recruit your deep abdominals. Slowly pull one arm down and out, drawing your elbow towards hip as it bends (lat pull down) (photo 6).

Teaching tips: Keep your back straight and avoid tension in upper trapezius.

Variation: Try narrowing your base of support by bringing your feet and knees together or placing your feet on an unstable base such as a dura disc.



4. Seated triceps Uses Fitball and Ultra-toner

Triceps strength with a difference.

Position: Sit tall on the ball holding the Ultra-toner in both hands, your stabilising arm flexed by your side, elbow tucked in close to your body and your hand beside your shoulder. Your moving arm is over-head, palm facing forward (photo 7).

Action: Extend your top arm towards the ceiling keeping both your back and the ball still and the anchor arm stable by your side (photo 8).

Teaching tips: Keep your core engaged and avoid the temptation to shrug your shoulders.

Variation: Bring your knees and feet together or add a single leg raise to further challenge stability.

5. Retract and rotate Uses Fitball and Ultra-toner

Scapular and torso control unite.

Position: Sitting tall on the ball, hold the Ultratoner at chest height with your hands shoulder width apart, and palms facing downwards (photo 9 & 10).

Action: Engage your deep abdominals. Draw your shoulder blades gently down and inwards. Now rotate your upper body to one side keeping the arms in alignment and your pelvis, legs and ball still. Slowly rotate back to the midline and then repeat to the second side (photo 11).

Teaching tips: Keep your shoulders down, elbows slightly bent and core engaged.

Variation: Feet together or single leg raise will further challenge your ability to stabilise the lower body whilst rotating above (photo 12).

 

Lisa Westlake, BAppSc (physio)
Lisa has worked in the health and fitness industry for over twenty years. Australian Fitness Network named her Fitness Instructor of the Year in 2000, and Presenter of the Year in 2003. Through her business, Physical Best, Lisa combines physiotherapy and fitness to create classes and programs for a variety of ages, levels and abilities, and is well known for her work in developing the Fitball program in Australia.

NETWORK MAGAZINE • SUMMER 2006 • PP55-58