Complementing a strength-training or stretching routine with an exercise ball is a great way to make your workout more effective, but not if you're committing these common mistakes. Here are three ways to fix your form.
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Using the Wrong Size Ball
Why it's bad: Using a ball that's either too small or too large can cause issues with form, or make exercises and stretches less effective.
[sidebar]The fix: Not all balls are created equal. They come in three sizes, so you should choose a ball based on your height. Also be sure it's filled with the proper amount of air. Using a ball that's the right size, but slightly deflated creates an ineffective piece of equipment.
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Feeling Too Unstable
Why it's bad: A little instability is normal and can help challenge the muscles, especially the core. But if you're wobbling all over the place and can't do one rep without toppling over, you won't get very much out of the move.
The fix: Find ways to feel steady when using the ball, either by widening your stance, placing more of your body on the ball, or by moving at a slower pace. (It's also a good idea to check your form.) Make sure to master basic moves before adding dumbbells, medicine balls, or other equipment.
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Why it's bad: As with any type of strength training, doing moves incorrectly means not targeting the muscles effectively and a bigger risk of injury.
The fix: Follow along to a DVD or a book, learn moves in a fitness class, or better yet, meet with a personal trainer to learn proper form and technique. A trainer can also demonstrate which moves are best at toning the muscles you want to strengthen, and can help you eliminate poor form habits.