Gym Balls

With a range of uses, gym balls are an inexpensive and adaptable piece of fitness equipment that should feature in every home gym. From helping with posture, to core work and balance, the variation possible will keep you on your toes.

The humble gym or Swiss ball is a mainstay of every gym, but not always for the reasons you may think. It's adaptability for use in stretching, performing exercises, core work and physical therapy make this pretty inexpensive accessory a must have in our opinion.

With a range of sizes available, you only need buy one or two for everyone that will use them. Using them can vary from helping you to tone muscle, to improving flexibility and core strength. These benefits ensure that for the price, the gym ball can add variety to any workout and it's no surprise that so many swear by it's use for core work.

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buying guides for gym ball

Gym Ball Buying Guide

What Are Gym Balls?

Gym balls are often referred to as fitness balls, balance balls, yoga balls, Swiss balls, and many other titles. Don’t worry, in essence they are all gym balls! Gym balls were developed by physiotherapists in Switzerland during the 1960’s for rehabilitation. Now they are used for far more than just rehab.

They are still great for those with back problems as they allow you to bring movement to the spine in a very controlled manner but they are also great for balance, resistance, flexibility, strength and developing the core. They are relatively inexpensive compared to other gym equipment and are low impact, so little danger of injury.

How to Exercise with a Gym Ball

Essentially a gym ball makes the body unstable. When you sit on the ball your abs and legs immediately contract to stop you falling. If you now add a crunch into the equation it will be more intense than just doing a crunch without the ball. They are also very good for push ups on with the same principle applying.

What are Medicine Balls?

Medicine balls are exercise balls that are weighted. They are made of leather or rubber and are usually filled with sand. They are used for more power or explosive workouts. Most weigh from 2-30lbs and are a great alternative to weights and dumbbells.

BOSU Balls

BOSU aren’t really a ball, more a dome shape that also makes you unstable as you stand on it, but the principle is the same. So if you are looking to develop your core check BOSU out. They have also developed a BOSU ballast ball, worth looking at.

What to Consider When Buying a Gym Ball


Gym balls do not come in one size. It is imperative that you get the right size. If the ball is too small you won’t get the right stretch and if you are lifting weights on too small a ball you will find yourself leaning forward. If the ball is too high you won’t keep your feet on the floor, you will lose balance and maybe even roll off! For example you are 4’ 11” to 5’ 3” then you should look for a ball that is 55cm. If however you are 5’ 11” or taller then you need to get a ball 75cm. Do check out each manufacturers guidelines.

To know if the ball is right for you the rule of thumb that is generally used is that when you sit on it your hips should be level or just slightly higher than your knees. If you can’t try a ball out first then you could do the following. Squat with your back against a wall and lower you knees to a 90 degree angle. Marks the wall and then you can measure the height of ball that you need. One other tip is not to buy a ball that you like the colour of as some balls are given a different colour according to their size.


Your gym ball must be burst resistance. It can be dangerous to exercise on one which is not. Imagine working out on one which suddenly bursts on you? You could well be thrown to the ground. A ball that is burst resistant will slowly deflate if pierced, giving you time to get off it safely.

Do check out the weight that the ball can take, manufacturers will provide test load figures so you know how much weight the ball will be able to take. Anti-burst balls normally have a rating of 500kg. If there is no rating stated then it is usually 100-200kg.  When looking at weight do consider if you are going to use free weights whilst using the ball as this will add to the overall weight.


Some balls come complete with an air pressure pump, but some don’t so do check this out. In terms of inflation it is also worth remembering that the better the ball is inflated the harder the exercise will be. If you are starting out using this type of exercise then you may want to start with a less inflated ball.


Check how best to store your ball, if it is stored in too hot an environment then the air inside could expand, too cold and the air will contract. So, check all manufactures guidelines.


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