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Exercise balls may not be the first thing that come to mind when you think of workout equipment, but they have more fitness benefits than most of us realize. "Exercise balls can help with proper posture, balance, and stability, as well as with strengthening core muscles and developing body control,” says Shayra Brown, a personal trainer at Blink Fitness.
Ellen Thompson, who is also a personal trainer at Blink Fitness, adds that introducing an exercise ball into your regular workouts can help you recruit additional muscles with the same movement pattern. "Plus, if you’re coming off of an injury, exercise balls are great at assisting in achieving increased mobility and range of motion in joints—all while supporting posture and form," she explains. She also recommends them for when you’ve hit a workout plateau, to help you ramp up the intensity without having to find new moves. The gist? If you want to level-up your home workouts, there's an exercise ball for that.
Read on for the best exercise balls, from large and inflatable ones to smaller and weighted versions.
Best Overall: Perform Better Thera-Band Stability Ball
This inflatable ball is a top choice for Thompson. “If you’re looking for a simple yet durable exercise ball to introduce to your current fitness routine, this would be a great option,” she says. She loves that its design features non-slip ridges that she says are helpful when performing exercises like hamstring curls. This ball is available in an array of sizes, from 45 to 75 centimeters.
Best Budget: Wacces Fitness And Exercise Ball
Affordable yet durable, this inflatable ball is excellent for those who don’t want to overcommit off the bat; it’s priced as low as $8 for the smaller size. While it won’t support the same level of weight as high-end balls, regular exercise moves aren’t any sort of burst risk. It’s available in three sizes and eight different colors.
Best for Back Pain : URBNFit Exercise Ball
This ball comes with both a workout guide and a pump, making it a sound choice for beginners who might otherwise be intimidated by new equipment. The brand claims that it won’t burst with less than 2,000 pounds of pressure (!!) and can alternately be used as a chair to relieve back pain and pressure. It's also made in a dozen different festive colors.
Best for Beginners: Escape Fitness Vertmini Medicine Balls
Available in five weights ranging from 1K to 5K, this medicine ball has you covered no matter how much, or how little, weight you want your exercise ball to add to your workout. Shayra thinks that “their small size makes them great for beginners and users of all abilities.”
According to our experts, before starting a new exercise routine or plan, it’s recommended to consult a health care provider first. It's important to always listen to your body, and if something hurts or doesn’t feel right while working out, you should stop and consult your healthcare provider.
Best Advanced: Escape Fitness Slamball SBX
This ball is a great choice for more advanced exercisers. Ellen says to choose this ball “if you’re looking to really amp it up on the power end” because “its durable rubber exterior, featuring a super grippy texture, makes handling really comfortable, especially when you’re fighting to control the instability of the shifting sand inside.” She tells us that “whether I’m asking a client to throw or slam this ball, we never have to worry about a roll or a bounce back.” Weights range from 11 pounds to 44, so “you can incorporate everything from rotational chops to target the core, to overhead slams to hit the lats and shoulders.”
Best Durability: SPRI Ultraball
Claiming to be the safest and most reliable stability ball on the market, this ball is made from material that’s thicker and heavier than many others in the category. It’s slow to deflate, resistant to stretching or deforming, and comes with a downloadable exercise guide.
Best Instructions: GoFit Pro Grade Stability Ball
With this ball, you'll never forget your workout—because the exercises are written right on it! The GoFit ball has a patterned grip for ease of use and comes in three sizes. It also comes with an exercise manual and DVD, making it a fabulous option for anyone who wants as much guidance and instruction as possible from their exercise ball.
What to do once you’ve got a ball and want to get rolling? Brown's favorite exercise ball workout moves include wall squats, dead bugs, ball passes, and decline push-ups.