The Water Ball

By Ross Enamait – Published in 2006

In a past article, I discussed low-tech options for sandbag construction. The sandbag is one of the more popular choices for odd object lifting. The awkward nature of the bag makes it an ideal tool for any combat athlete. As you lift the bag, the sand will shift from side to side, forcing the stabilizer muscles to work overtime.

In addition to the sandbag, other popular odd objects (for lifting) include kegs, logs, rocks, and barrels. If you want to develop real strength, odd object lifts are definitely a nice addition to any routine.

One of the lesser known tools for odd object lifting is a water filled exercise ball. If you are interested in odd object lifting, this tool will definitely float your boat. The water filled exercise ball is one of the most challenging objects to lift. The water will swoosh back and forth as you lift and carry the ball. In addition to the total body strength benefits, you will also develop grip strength as you grab into the sides of the ball during each exercise.

To bring this odd object to reality, you first need to find a sturdy exercise ball. Choose a ball that is marketed as an “anti-burst” ball. A 65cm ball is a good size for lifting.

Most balls come with an air pump which includes a small nozzle. The nozzle fits into the ball (to pump the air). You can attach this small nozzle to a water spout to fill the ball with water. You can see how I have attached the nozzle (white) to the yellow spout. You will run a hose directly into the spout. Turn the hose on with just a half turn. The water will need to run slow considering the small size of the air hole. Start by filling the ball approximately 1/2 to 3/4 full. You can always add more water as your strength improves.
You may wish to pump a small amount of air into the ball after it has been filled with water. This will give the ball a little more shape. Do not fill the ball to full capacity however. You must retain the ability to grab the ball with your hands. If the ball is filled to capacity, you will be unable to grab into the sides of the ball.
After spending $10 on your ball and taking 30 minutes to fill it, you will have one of the most challenging strength tools that you can find. You can lift the ball similarly to how you would lift a sandbag or keg. Another option is to load and unload the ball to a raised platform. If you are looking for a great finisher, pick the ball up and walk with it for time. The water ball carry is one of the most challenging finishers you will find.

Sample Outdoor Workout

To perform this workout, you will need a 20 meter strip of land. The starting point will have a sledgehammer and tire.

  • Strike the tire with your sledgehammer for 20 reps (10 swings from left side, 10 swings from right side)
  • Pick up the water ball and walk 20 meters
  • Put the ball down and perform 10 burpees
  • Pick up the water ball and walk back to starting position (20 meters)
  • Continue for 20 minutes

Clearly, this sample workout is just one of many options. The water ball is fun, different from the norm, and always a challenge. You will be surprised at the difficulty, and more importantly the effectiveness of this low-tech modality.

Happy lifting!