The Bender Ball is one of those infomercial fitness gadgets I never would have looked at twice however a series of events has lead to it becoming one of the tools in my Trainers toolbox.
I received a Bender Ball as a Christmas gift shortly after I had met a Bender Ball Method Master Trainer. (Absolutely no link between the two people or events).
A few Bender Ball Pilates classes later and I put in an order for a couple more to use with my personal training clients and I have a pretty large repertoire of exercises I can use it with at home.
I am as shocked as you especially in light of the Bender Ball informercials true-to-late-night-form of cheesiness & deceptiveness. Here’s why I like it and how I use mine.
What is a Bender Ball?
It’s so simple it’s almost laughable that they built an entire lifestyle around it, but I am only going to talk about the ball here. It’s a 9 inch inflatable squishy green ball. That’s it. It was developed by Leslee Bender, a fitness professional.
Why I actually like it
- After 15 years of core training myself and hundreds of personal training clients it’s always good to incorporate new and different exercises into the mix for variety’s sake. I have enjoyed the variations and new twists that the Bender Ball provides on classic core exercises. It just spices things up a bit.
- It is an especially helpful, simple and easy to transport tool for use when working with small groups of 2 or 3 clients together.
- Rated burst proof to 400 pounds so I am not afraid to sit, lay or kneel on it.
- 9 inch diameter is a good size to wedge into the nooks and crannies of the body
- It is super squishy so you can lie on it and it compresses instead of jamming into your ribs or poking your lunch like a firmer ball does.
- Can be inflated instantly so it can be packed in a gym bag or suitcase.
- A pretty inexpensive gadget for the multitude of exercise you can do with it.
- It does offer the classic crunch a greater range of motion plus instability for added core muscle work.
My fave Bender Ball exercises
Myotatic crunch with hands over head
Hip flexor stretch
Bridge + alternating leg raise
- Of course you are not going to radically change your physique with this ball, that’s pure silliness. It is a simple tool to add variety to your hard core workouts for an exercise or two, then return it to the gadget bin and go back to lifting heavy weight and high-intensity interval training.
- If you find you are dancing around with it in your hands or using it for more than 5 minutes per workout and you wonder why you haven’t lost weight or toned your muscles, mystery solved.
- Any core training exercises are potentially injurious if you don’t have a good understanding of and ability to first stabilize with transversus abdominis. Most people do not.
- Most of the exercise are mat based and will not have much transference to sports conditioning or athletic performance unless a faulty core stabilization strategy needs attention.
- A 408% increase in core activation (according to the ads) is not only not necessary but from where the heck did they get that number?. And that is only for crunches which 100% of us don’t really need anyway.
- Sure you could make-do with your kids beach toys, but I do like the size, the squish- ability and the burst proof rating.
- I was at a bit of a loss about what to do with it when I first got it so taking a class with a Bender Method Master Trainer was extremely helpful. An instructional DVD might be helpful although I have not reviewed any, and always avoid signing up for ‘lifestyle’ education because you don’t need ongoing monthly educational support for a $12 ball. It is just a ball.
What is your favorite Bender Ball exercise?