With world cup fever taking hold of the nation, 1Life has devised three exercises you can do at home, or in the gym, with a football! So even if you’re not a fan you can still get into the football spirit!
Overhead Squats with a Football
Squats are a great exercise and can be adapted and performed in a way to be more challenging. They work big muscle groups but it’s important these exercises are carried out correctly. It’s important your weight is put on the heel of your foot, rather than the balls and it’s important you don’t tip forward but instead keep your chest up and proud. A great way to ensure good form and to stop these mistakes from happening is to perform a squat whilst holding something – like a football, over your head. Grasp the ball with both hands and extend your arms upwards directly above your shoulders. Position your feet hip-distance apart and balance the weight on your heels, if you can wiggle your toes you’re doing it right!! Tip your hips in a backwards motion, remembering to keep your weight on your heels and look up slightly so you can see the ball. Continue sitting your hips back as you bend your knees, and lower your butt down towards the floor. Aim to bend your knees as far as you comfortably can (at least a 90-degree angle) and then reverse out of the movement and back to standing. Do as many as you can in one minute and repeat this set three times.
Toe Taps with a Football
This exercise is aimed at increasing your heart rate slightly. Toe taps are exactly what they sound like. All you need to do is place the football in front of you (on the floor). Begin by jogging on the spot and then simply tap the top of the ball with the ball of your foot. Start slowly to get the hang of it (begin by walking on the spot if you need to) and once you have the hang of it, pick up the pace. It’s important you keep the taps as light as possible and avoid “pushing” the ball. It takes concentration and focus to get it right, which makes the exercise more difficult.
Staggered Push Ups
Using a football whilst carrying out traditional exercises will improve your balance and coordination. Although the ball is likely to move around somewhat you will be improving and working on the small stabilising muscle groups, which often get overlooked.
Pushups are a great exercise to strengthen the upper body and core, and by introducing a football and carrying out a staggered push up will ensure you engage these small stabilising muscles in the shoulder as well as greater core activation. To perform this exercise kneel on the ground behind the ball and place one hand on top of the football and the other hand on the ground. Ensure your shoulders are positioned directly above your palms.
You can do the pushups on your knees or with your legs extended. Make sure your core is tight and bend from your elbows - lowering your chest toward the ground. If you can, aim to touch your chest to the ball and then reverse the movement and push yourself back to the starting position. Then roll the ball to the opposite hand and repeat the exercise. Ensure the football is suitably firm to be able to handle the load of your bodyweight resting on it. If you have any previous wrist of forearm weakness issues, then ensure you complete your exercise on your knees in the first instance. Look to perform three sets of 8 to 10 repetitions on each side.
Unstable Plank Using a Football
The unstable plank can be performed in a couple of different ways. The foundation level would be to rest a football on your lower back whilst maintaining the plank as long as possible. With the emphasis to keep a smooth stable line through the backline of your body, from your head and neck, down your back and to your feet, the football should remain stable and not fall off if you are holding good plank form. The next progression to this is to balance both hands on top of the ball, which will work on stabilising and building the muscles in your shoulders, or you balance both feet on top of the football. The latter exercise requires greater stability in the hips and strength in your wrists, forearms and shoulders
An unstable plank is performed exactly the same way as a traditional plank, but this time you have the ball to contend with as well, giving you a more challenging home exercise. If you want to challenge yourself and opt for balancing your feet on the ball, you should position the ball in between your feet and assume the plank position. When you’re ready, move one foot on top of the ball and once you’re balanced move the other foot on top too. Hold the position as long as you can while keeping your torso completely straight.
If you’re using the ball under your shoulders, position the ball between your hands and get into a plank position, this time though, balance on your palms instead of your forearms. Then move one palm on top of the football, steady your balance and then move the other hand on top of the ball. Make sure your thumbs touch and your fingers wrap tightly around the ball on either side. Hold the position for as long as you can while keeping your torso straight. Before progressing to any of the more advanced plank football holds, please ensure you have the relevant strength throughout your wrist and shoulder joints and have mastered the basic plank first.