Use the Empty Space!

By Kristin Walton,

Instead of talking about the most obvious areas of the gym and what to use, I’ve decided to focus on the mat area of the gym. The mat or stretching area is usually unused and most often has the best stuff!

This is where you can resistance bands, bosu balls (will discuss soon), balance balls, medicine balls and much more plus it has a ton of extra space for you to spread out!

The difference between using a bench vs. using a balance ball for exercises is that adding balance will engage the abs, back, hip, and your behind! For example, when doing a normal chest press (or bench press) your whole body is allowed to rest to focus just on the area that you are pushing from, do this while balancing on a ball and you’ve completely taken it to a new level. Below are some great all over toning exercises that use the ball and some hand weights; try these the next time instead of fighting over a spot in the weight area at the gym. When choosing a balance ball, pick on big enough so when you sit down your knees are in line with your hips, just like a chair.

Here are some exercises I want to you to try, it hits all of the major muscles groups plus activates the core.

Chest press: use 10- 12 lb dumbbells and perform 3 sets of 12 reps. Exhale as your push the weights up. When the weights are in the down position, the wrist should be directly over the elbow and the elbow should be in line with the shoulder.

The knuckles should be facing the ceiling, press the weights up and stop before the elbow locks. Squeeze your belly button in to protect the back and squeeze the hips and cheeks together.

Back fly: This will tone that lovely “bra strap” area. Pretend you’re holding a lemon between your shoulder blades when you do this, you want to think you’re squeezing the lemon.

Sit on your knees with your feet flat against the wall and the ball in front of your thighs, roll yourself on top of the ball so your hips and tights are on the ball and you arch to have your body extended over the ball.

From the side with the weights in your hand, extend the arms to the side. When extended, keep the elbow soft and have the knuckles face the ceiling and palms facing down; the arms become parrallel to the floor.

Repeat this 12 times and do 3 sets. Exhale as you lift the arms and inhale as you lower.

AB roll: The same way you would set up th eback fly (on your knees) is the same way I want you setting up your ab roll.

Walk your hands out until the ball is below your shins and hold yourself in this plank or push up position; arms should be shoulder width apart and toes pointing behind you. If this is enough of a challenge, hold this for a minute.

If you want a little extra, push the hips up while the knees roll into the chest. Repeat 15-20 times

Hamstring curl: Lay flat on your back with the ball under your heels, squeeze your belly button and hips and lift them up so they are in line with your feet. The only thing that shoudl still be on the floor are your shoulders. Roll your heels in towards your hips and push your butt and hips towards the ceiling. Repeat this 20 times, perform 3 sets.

Try this the next time you’re working out, I know your muscles will thank me! Take a look at my new website (still working on the finishing touches) at

About Kristin Walton

Kristin Walton is a physical trainer in Sacramento. You can learn more about her Sweat Squad Boot Camp by visiting or emailing her direct at She specializes in conditioning training for athletes as well as fat loss.


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Posted by on Mar 18 2011. Filed under Health and Fitness. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Comment for “Use the Empty Space!”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Carrie Woods, Julia Shoope. Julia Shoope said: Use the Empty Space!: The difference between using a bench vs. using a balance ball for exercises is that adding… […]

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