Learning the proper techniques for how to inflate an exercise ball is the key before incorporating it into your fitness routine. An exercise ball, also known as a Swiss ball, stability ball, or yoga ball, is a popular fitness tool used for strength training, flexibility exercises, balance training, and more. Using an exercise ball engages your core and stabilizer muscles as you have to engage your abs and back to maintain balance on the unstable surface.
Before you can start using an exercise ball for your workout, you first need to learn how to properly inflate it, which this guide will cover in detail. Improperly or overinflating an exercise ball can lead to it bursting and potential injury. This guide will walk you through step-by-step the right way to inflate an exercise ball for safe and effective use.
Choose the Right Size Exercise Ball:
Exercise balls come in a range of sizes, typically from 45cm to 85cm in diameter. The right size ball depends on your height. Here are the following: what size exercise ball for pregnancy, for most exercises, and for exercise ball chair you should pick.
- For pregnancy or postpartum exercises, choose a size that allows your knees to be slightly lower than your hips when sitting. A 65cm ball is average.
- For most exercises, you want to choose an exercise ball where your thighs are parallel to the floor when sitting on it. This is the ideal position for proper form.
- If using the ball for an exercise ball chair, you’ll want a larger ball size so you can sit comfortably with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent at a 90 degree angle.
Always start with the recommended size based on your height and adjust from there if needed. It’s easier to maintain balance and proper positioning on a ball that is the right size.
Read the Maximum Weight Limit
Before inflating, check the maximum weight limit listed on your exercise ball. Every ball is designed to safely hold a certain amount of weight. Do not exceed the limit, as this can lead to the ball bursting. The maximum weight will range from 300-500 lbs for most standard sized exercise balls.
Use the Right Exercise Ball Pump
An exercise ball pump is specially designed for inflating exercise balls. It allows you to monitor air pressure as you inflate. Key features to look for include:
- Pressure gauge – This lets you measure PSI to meet the ball’s recommended air pressure level.
- Needle nose tip – Made to fit exercise ball valves for fast inflation.
- Large volume – Able to fill balls quickly with fewer pumps.
- Ergonomic handles – For comfort and control when pumping.
While you can use a standard needle, a specialized exercise ball pump will make the inflation process much easier.
Prepare the Exercise Ball:
Before using the pump, you’ll want to get the ball ready:
- Locate the ball valve where you’ll insert the pump needle. Make sure the valve is tightly sealed shut.
- Spread out the ball on a clear surface with the valve up. Having ample space is important.
- Massage the ball gently to loosen it up. This helps remove folds and shape it for even inflation.
Follow these simple prep steps for smooth pumping and inflation.
Inflate to the Correct PSI Level:
Refer to the exercise ball packaging or printed guidelines on the ball itself to find the recommended PSI (pounds per square inch). The ideal PSI helps the ball maintain its shape and bounce when in use.
Typical recommended PSI levels are:
- 45cm ball: 10-12 PSI
- 55cm ball: 8-10 PSI
- 65cm ball: 7-9 PSI
- 75cm+ ball: 4-6 PSI
Use your exercise ball pump’s pressure gauge to inflate to the correct level. Do not undershoot or overestimate the PSI. Proper inflation is key!
With your exercise ball in position and pump ready, you can start inflating:
- Insert the pump needle tip firmly into the ball valve. Make sure it creates an airtight seal.
- Use both hands to hold the handles and pump up and down with steady, even strokes.
- Add a few more pumps then stop to check the pressure gauge reading.
- Continue pumping in short bursts, rechecking the PSI each time.
Inflating gradually gives you much more control over the air pressure level. Rapid pumping can easily overinflate the ball.
Listen and Watch for Leaks:
As you inflate, be on the lookout for leaks by:
- Listen for air hissing out anywhere around the pump needle or valve. Leaks mean less air stays in.
- Watching if the ball seems to deflate at all between pump sessions.
- Check that the PSI level holds steady when you stop pumping.
If you detect leaks, deflate the ball and make sure the pump needle is tightly attached. Re-inflate, adding just 1-2 pumps at a time to better isolate any issues.
Stop at the Recommended PSI:
When the exercise ball pump gauge shows you’ve reached the recommended PSI, stop inflating. Carefully remove the pump needle so air doesn’t rush out.
Immediately seal the valve shut tightly. To ensure it’s airtight, you can briefly pinch the valve closed as you fasten it.
How to Inflate an Exercise Ball: Check for Proper Inflation
Once fully inflated, check that:
- The exercise ball surface is completely smooth, with no folds or creases.
- The ball is firm with an even bounce. If heavily underinflated, it will have little bounce when lightly pushed.
- The size is right for your body based on the guidelines for your height.
If the ball passes these tests, it’s ready for use! Deflate fully after your workout by gently pressing on the valve until all air is released.
Troubleshooting Over or Under Inflation
If your exercise ball ends up with improper inflation, here are tips to troubleshoot:
- Press gently on the valve to slowly release air until the PSI gauge shows the correct level.
- If overinflated to the point of bulging, you’ll need to deflate fully and start over.
- Add air in short 1-2 pump bursts, rechecking the PSI in between to avoid overfilling.
- Check thoroughly for leaks as you add air. Tighten the pump attachment if needed.
Take the time to inflate properly – it ensures safety and ideal bounce for your workout.
Top Workouts of Exercise Ball for Pregnancy
Here are all the top exercises using a pregnancy ball for expecting moms.
Exercise balls can provide an excellent gentle workout for expecting mothers to stay strong and relieve aches during pregnancy. Here is a 15 minute routine of yoga ball exercises for pregnancy that is safe and effective if you are pregnant:
- Cat cows – On all fours with ball under belly, arch back looking up then round spine chin to chest alternately. Warms up the spine.
- Hip figure 8s – Sitting on a ball, make big figure 8s with hips opening up the pelvis. Reduce lower back pain.
- Pelvic tilts – Sit with feet wide, engage the core, and tilt the pelvis down and back up. Strengthens transverse abdominals.
- Upper back stretch – Sitting tall on the ball, interlace hands behind the head and push the chest out opening shoulders. Relieve upper back tension.
- Child’s pose – Drape upper body over ball lowering hips towards heels. Stretch your lower back and shoulders.
- Squats – Holding wall for balance, squat down engaging thighs then stand back up. Prepares for labor.
- Ball circles – On back with legs lifted on the ball, move knees in circles opening up hips.
- Ball bounce – Bounce gently on the ball engaging the core and improving circulation.
Even just 15 minutes a day on the exercise ball during pregnancy can make a big difference in relieving aches and pains, building strength for labor and delivery, and improving mood. Consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program while pregnant. Modify moves as needed and listen to your body.
How to Use Exercise Ball Safely
Here are some tips for exercising safely with your stability ball:
- Inspect the yoga ball before each use for any leaks, cracks, or defects. A slow leak can cause the ball to deform or burst unexpectedly. Replace the ball if any wear is spotted.
- Only exercise on a level, cleared space with plenty of room to control the ball. Tuck in any loose clothing that could catch the ball. Remove shoes to prevent slipping.
- Start slowly, only performing basic moves until you build more core strength and balance skills. Have a chair or wall nearby to grab if needed when first learning exercises.
- Maintain good posture and engage your core throughout the moves. Don’t perform exercises that cause you to arch your back excessively.
- Moderate your bounce height on bounding moves. Control the ball as you land to prevent injury.
- Stay hydrated and listen to your body. Exercise balls can be challenging at first. Allow your balance and endurance to improve over time.
- Consult your doctor before using an exercise ball if pregnant, elderly, or have medical conditions affecting balance or joint stability. Modify or avoid moves that cause discomfort.
With some practice and the right precautions, exercise balls can take your workouts to the next level and help you meet your fitness goals in a safe, effective way.
Alternative Exercises to Medicine Ball Slams
Here are some effective exercises to medicine ball slam alternative:
- Overhead throws – Stand holding the ball overhead with arms extended. Explosively throw the ball forward and overhead as far as you can. Catch the rebound and repeat. Works similar muscles.
- Cable woodchoppers – Attach a rope handle to a cable machine set to shoulder height. Keeping arms straight, forcefully chop the rope diagonally across your body. Switch sides to each rep. Hits abs and obliques.
- Exercise ball hamstring curls – Lie face up with your lower legs on top of the ball. Raise hips up and bend knees drawing ball towards glutes by contracting hamstrings. Slowly straighten the legs back to the start position.
- Hand exercise ball – Grasping the ball will target muscles that improve strength when picking things up. Also, releasing the ball will target muscles that let things go from your hand.
- Battle ropes – Hold one end of a battle rope in each hand with a wide stance. Whip the ropes up and down to hit your upper body. Generates a lot of power.
- Exercise ball squats – Place the ball against a wall and stand with feet shoulder-width apart a couple of feet out. Bend knees sitting back into squat position on the ball. Press through heels back to the start.
- Burpees – Jump down into a push-up position, kick your feet back, then jump up again. Can add an overhead clap for more intensity. Compound whole body movement.
- Jump squats – Squat down then explode up into a vertical jump. Land softly back in a squat. Works legs and engages the core.
- Mountain climbers – In a push-up position, drive one knee forward, then the other in a running motion. Quickly works up a sweat.
The key is to choose slam alternatives that keep the full body dynamic movement and power generation of the original exercise. Mix up these options to complement your routine.
Tips on How to Inflate an Exercise Ball
Here are some additional useful tips to get the most out of how to inflate an exercise ball:
- Inflate in a spacious area in case you need to quickly release air to prevent overfilling.
- Use a small amount of lubricant like soap and water around the pump needle for an airtight seal.
- Write the ball’s PSI level on it with a marker so you know what to inflate next time.
- Add just 1-2 pumps periodically to maintain the correct PSI if the ball loses a little air.
- Always store deflated and reinflate after each use for reliability. Balls stretch over time if left inflated.
Proper inflation technique maximizes your exercise ball’s lifespan and performance during workouts. Refer to this guide anytime you need a refresher on achieving the right air pressure. With your ball inflated safely, you’ll be ready to add this versatile tool to your fitness routine.
Learning how to inflate an exercise ball properly is easy when you follow key steps like using the right-sized ball, exercise ball pump, inflation technique, and air pressure. Avoiding over or underinflation prevents the ball from bursting or losing its bounce. Refer to the ball’s recommended PSI and your height guidelines to select the optimal size. Gradually inflate, listening for leaks and testing the ball’s firmness. With your exercise ball inflated correctly by following this guide on how to inflate an exercise ball, you can perform a myriad of stability, strength training, flexibility, and core exercises confidently.