Weight Bench vs Swiss Ball

Weight Bench vs Swiss Ball

Almost anywhere you look in the fitness industry, there is a debate about something. These debates range anywhere from the number of reps performed in each set to the amount of weight you should use in exercises to whether barbells or bodyweight exercises are “better”. Today, we will look at whether weight benches or Swiss balls are better for your workout.

The Argument for Weight Benches

The basic argument for weight benches is that a solid bench provides the foundation you need when lifting weights. A solid foundation becomes more important as the weights get heavier. Having a firm foundation allows you to maintain proper form during the exercise. Proper form is important in exercise, especially when the weights get heavier, because bad form can often lead to injury. As this article from Harvard Medical School suggests, doing an exercise movement with control and proper form is key.

Having a decent weight bench while performing chest exercises helps you maintain proper form and positioning during the exercise. These factors become more important as you start using heavier weights, as the risk factor increases. Having a weight bench can also help you target the chest specifically and enables a greater range of motion in exercises than the floor would.

The Argument for Swiss Balls

The argument for Swiss balls is essentially the exact opposite of that for benches. Proponents of using Swiss balls in exercise argue that the instability provided by the ball is exactly what you need. They claim the ball’s instability is beneficial in increasing your core strength and stability. Due to the instability of a Swiss ball, your core muscles must be firing almost constantly to keep balance. This, in turn, creates a stronger core, increasing an exerciser’s stability and balance.

While you can perform a great many exercises with a Swiss ball, and many more than just chest exercises can be performed on weight benches, the argument for them all remains the same: a Swiss ball, due to its instability, forces the core to be in almost constant tension, thus strengthening it. For more information on Swiss balls and some different exercises you can utilize them for, check out this WebMD article.

This video shows you how to use a Swiss ball instead of a weight bench:

The Answer to the Debate

Well, which one is better? The answer to this debate is that while the claims made by people who promote Swiss ball training sound nice, there is little actual science to back them up. According to this article on the NCBI website, there is no evidence using a Swiss ball activates muscles in the trunk more than using a regular bench. The study also conducted several exercises, which lends it more credence.

This example highlights the need for hard, scientific evidence backing up claims made about exercise. While it seems logical that a Swiss ball would activate the core more, there is not enough evidence to support it. This fact seems to break down the fundamental push behind Swiss balls: they produce greater core activation and, thus, strength.

That said, the study showed that different people responded differently to the instability of the Swiss ball. This could allow certain individuals to benefit more from training with one than others. Generally, using a bench is usually a safer and ultimately more constructive approach to gaining strength and muscle mass. This is because you can handle greater loads on a bench, which activates muscle stimulation and growth to a greater degree.


In the end, exercise should be something that you enjoy. If you enjoy lifting lighter weights on a Swiss ball or doing bodyweight exercises on one, then, by all means, continue using a Swiss ball. If you want to get bigger and stronger more quickly, using a solid bench for exercises is a better option, as it provides a stable foundation to lift progressively heavier weights. No matter which you choose, make sure you exercise in a safe and controlled manner

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: How do stability exercises on a Swiss ball improve core activation?

A: Stability exercises on a Swiss ball require more engagement from the core muscles to maintain balance and stability, resulting in improved core activation.

Q: Can I do the bench press on a Swiss ball?

A: While it is possible to do a bench press on a Swiss ball, it is not recommended as it is an unstable surface that may compromise your form and increase the risk of injury.

Q: Are stability ball exercises as effective as exercises on a weight bench?

A: Stability ball exercises can be effective in improving stability, balance, and core activation, but they may not provide the same level of strength and muscle gains as exercises performed on a weight bench.

Q: Can I use free weights on a Swiss ball?

A: It is generally not recommended to use free weights on a Swiss ball as the unstable surface may make it difficult to maintain proper form and control, increasing the risk of injury.

Q: Is it better to lie on a stability ball or a flat bench for triceps extensions?

A: It is generally better to perform triceps extensions on a stable surface like a flat bench as it allows for better control, stability, and targeting of the triceps muscles.

Q: What muscles are activated when using a stability ball?

A: Using a stability ball can activate a variety of muscles, including the deep abdominal muscles (transverse abdominus), shoulder muscles (deltoids), and stabilizer muscles of the scapula.

Q: Are exercises on a Swiss ball more effective for improving core activation than exercises on a weight bench?

A: Exercises on a Swiss ball may potentially be more effective for improving core activation, as they require more engagement from the deep abdominal muscles (rectus abdominus) and stabilizer muscles to maintain stability on an unstable surface.

Q: What is the best surface for performing triceps extensions?

A: The best surface for performing triceps extensions is a stable surface, such as a flat bench or a stable platform, as it allows for better control, stability, and targeting of the triceps muscles.

Q: Can using a Swiss ball replace the need for a weight bench in my workout routine?

A: While using a Swiss ball can be a great addition to your workout routine to improve stability and core activation, it may not fully replace the need for a weight bench, especially if your goal is to build strength and muscle mass.