8 Awesome Ways to Use a Physioball

Add these 8 physioball exercises to your workouts to get stronger and more athletic.

You'll find many pieces of exercise equipment in a typical weight room. Some are great. Others are not the best use of your time. In this series, we will show you some of our favorite exercises using equipment we believe can improve your sports performance. In this article, we cover the physioball.

Physioballs are big rubber balls filled with air. They come in various sizes and colors. You'll find them in almost every gym and weight room, where you might hear them referred to as Swiss balls, exercise balls or stability balls.

The ball is inherently unstable, so it adds a balance and stability challenge to exercises. You can perform many moves on the physioball that you normally would perform on the ground or with other pieces of equipment. To help you get the most out of this piece of equipment, we highlighted our favorite moves for athletes below.

Physioball Jackknife

Physioball Jackknife

One of the best exercises to strengthen your abs, the Jackknife combines what's essentially a Sit-Up with a Plank. But since the lower back doesn't move like it does when you perform a Sit-Up, it's a much safer movement.

How to:

  • Assume a push-up position and dig your toes into the top of a physioball.
  • Keeping your back flat and core stable, drive your knees to your chest to roll the ball toward your hands.
  • Extend your hips and knees to roll the ball back to starting position.

Sets/Reps: 3x12

Physioball Pot Stirs

Physioball Pot Stirs

Pot Stirs are like Planks but much harder. Moving your forearms in a circular motion on the ball constantly changes the tension placed on your core, causing a deep burn after only a few reps. This is great for athletes, who must brace their core from multiple directions. If holding a Plank for a long time seems boring or too easy, try this move instead.

How to:

  • Assume a plank position with your forearms on the physioball.
  • Rotate your elbows clockwise on the ball to create a circle; repeat for the specified number of reps.
  • Switch directions and rotate your elbows counterclockwise; repeat for the specified number of reps.

Sets/Reps: 3x10 each direction

Physioball Push-Up

Physioball Push-Up

We like the Physioball Push-Up for two reasons: placing your feet on it in an elevated position works both your chest and shoulders; and the instability engages your shoulder stabilizers and core muscles.

How to:

  • Assume a push-up position and dig your toes into the top of a physioball.
  • Keeping your core tight and back flat, perform a Push-Up.

Sets/Reps: 3x12

Physioball Perturbations

Physioball Perturbations

Simply holding a Push-Up position on a physioball for an extended period of time is quite challenging. To make it even more difficult, have a partner lightly tap the ball from side to side in a random fashion.

How to:

  • Assume a push-up position with your hands on a physioball
  • Keep your core tight and your back flat.
  • Have a partner randomly tap the physioball from side to side.
  • Maintain your balance throughout the exercise.

Sets/Duration: 3x30 seconds

Physioball Single-Leg Extensions

Physioball Single-Leg Extensions

In a previous article, we talked about how Machine Leg Extensions are not always the best choice for athletes. This exercise offers similar quad-strengthening benefits without the drawbacks.

How to:

  • Assume a push-up position with your left foot on a physioball. Drive your hips up into the air to form an inverted V with your body.
  • Keeping your core tight and back flat, bend your left knee as far as range of motion allows.
  • Extend your left knee to drive your body back up to the start position.
  • Switch feet and repeat.

Sets/Reps: 3x10 each leg

Physioball Leg Curls

Physioball Leg Curls

The hamstrings play a critical role in athletic skills, helping you sprint faster and absorb force when decelerating and changing directions. To improve your performance and prevent injuries, add this move to your program.

How to:

  • Lie on your back and place your heels on a physioball.
  • Lift your butt off the ground to form a straight line with your body.
  • Keeping your hips extended, bend your knees to pull the physioball toward your butt.
  • Slowly extend your knees to return to the starting position.

Sets/Reps: 3x10

Physioball Single-Leg Wall Squat

Physioball Single-Leg Wall Squat

The Physioball Wall Squat is commonly used in physical therapy settings. For athletes who train every day, it's not terribly intense. But the single-leg version is an awesome way to improve single-leg strength and knee stability.

How to:

  • Place a physioball between your lower back and a wall. Stand on your right leg.
  • Bend your hip and knee to lower into a Squat until your thigh is parallel to the ground. The physioball will roll up your back.
  • Drive through your heel to stand up into the starting position.

Sets/Reps: 3x10 each leg

Physioball Adductor Bridge

Physioball Adductor Bridge

Your groin muscles are a critical part of your performance—especially for hockey players. This exercise strengthens these vulnerable muscles, which makes them more resistant to injury.

How to:

  • Lie on your left side with your body straight. Place your right foot on a physioball and your left foot in front of the ball.
  • Drive through your right foot to raise your body up so that it forms a straight line from your shoulders to your feet.
  • Slowly lower to the starting position.

Sets/Reps; 2-3x10 each side

RELATED: 9 Awesome Ways to Use a BOSU Ball 


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: PHYSIOBALL | EXERCISE | EQUIPMENT