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A stability ball is an efficient yet inexpensive exercise tool for strengthening the hip abductors and adductors. Also known as the outer and inner thigh muscles, the abductors and adductors do not require heavy amounts of resistance to stimulate muscle change. The ball provides a gentle but effective resistance on your legs to strengthen and tone your muscles.
Inflatable exercise balls are available in different sizes. Get one that fits the size and shape of your body. To test for proper size, sit on top of a ball, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. If both your knees and hips are bent at a 90-degree angle, you have the right size ball. If your hips or knees are bent beyond 90 degrees, the ball is too small. The ball is too large if the angle in your knees and hips is less than 90 degrees.
The outer thighs are targeted from a side-lying position over top of the ball. Kneel next to the ball with your right hip closest to the ball. Lean over the top of the ball so your ribs and hip contact the ball. Hold onto the stability ball with your right arm. Straighten your left leg with your foot touching the ground and your toes pointing forward. Set your left hand on your left hip. Exhale and lift your straight left leg until it reaches hip height. Inhale and lower to the starting position. This exercise strengthens the outer thigh muscles of the tensor fascia latae, and the gluteus medius and minimus.
The inner thighs -- the adductor group and the gracilis -- contract when you squeeze your legs together. To use a stability ball to enhance this motion, lie face up on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place the ball between your thighs. Squeeze tightly as if you were trying to pop the ball. Hold the squeeze for two to three seconds and then release. As your strength progresses, lift your feet on the floor and keep your knees bent. The advanced method is to squeeze with your legs straight toward the ceiling.
If you prefer more movement to your inner and outer thigh exercises, do a ball hop. Sit on top of the stability ball with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Start with your feet close together. Position your elbows to the sides at the height of your shoulders with your arms bent and your fists near your armpits. Bounce and separate your feet and knees as you extend your arms out to the sides. As you bounce, and if you feel comfortable, allow your butt to lift off the ball and your feet to lift off the floor. Bounce again and return to the starting position. This seated jumping jack uses the inner and outer thighs to separate and join your knees.