When you’re bigger, most things aren’t easier, and wondering if everyday items can handle my weight is always in the back of my mind.
Especially when I make my way to the gym where I obviously need to worry about weight limits on equipment like exercise bikes and treadmills but especially gear that seems even more fragile like an exercise ball or yoga ball. Heck, these things aren’t much different from a giant sturdy ballon when you think about it!
So what exactly is the weight limit for a yoga ball, exercise ball, or stability ball?
There’s a wide range of weight limits and while budget exercise balls from big box stores will usually support somewhere between 250 to 350 pounds, many quality exercise balls are designed to withstand thousands of pounds of pressure which is more than enough for most people.
That’s the quick answer but let’s take a closer look at the weight capacity of yoga and exercise balls.
What’s the Average Weight Capacity Of An Exercise Ball?
Because there’s such a huge range of weight capacities for exercise balls it’s hard to find a true average. It’s easy to find stability balls with a weight capacity of 250 pounds and it’s just as easy to find stability balls with a weight capacity of 2,000 pounds or more.
Still, to get a better idea of a typical weight capacity I looked at 20 different exercise balls and found that most have a weight capacity of around 300 pounds. That’s right in the middle of the typical range.
However, there’s a big difference between the budget yoga ball that you might find at Target (which usually has a weight capacity of 300 pounds) and a commercial-grade stability ball that you’d find in a larger gym.
Commercial grade stability balls are designed to handle use multiple times a day and it’s not uncommon to see these balls with weight capacity in the thousands.
That means it’s pretty difficult to really establish a definitive average for exercise balls and it really depends on where you look.
What Impacts The Weight Capacity Of A Stability Ball?
Weight capacity can be a complex subject and once advanced physics gets involved you can count me out. So we’ll try to keep things as simple as possible and break down the big factors that impact exercise ball weight capacity.
Size Of The Exercise Ball
Bigger stability balls can support more weight which makes this one of the most useful things to remember when trying to find the right exercise ball. There’s a lot of science as to why this is but the idea of a bigger stability ball supporting more weight also makes intuitive sense to most people.
But simply put, a larger exercise ball has a larger surface area which allows weight to be distributed more evenly and so increases the weight capacity of the exercise ball.
As a heavier person, it may be tempting to find an exercise ball that’s as large as possible to make sure there are no weight capacity issues but that’s actually not the best solution. Instead, you want to make sure you’re getting an exercise ball that matches your height. Whether the exercise ball is too large or too small, if it doesn’t match up with your height it’s going to be difficult to use.
The general rule of thumb is that your knees should be a 90-degree angle when you’re sitting and this quick chart can get you pointed in the right direction:
|Your Height||Recommend Ball
|5′ and below||45 cm|
|5′ to 5’4″||55 cm|
|5′ 5″ to 5′ 11″||65 cm|
|6′ to 6’4″||75 cm|
|6’5″ and above||85 cm|
Thankfully, there’s a lot more that goes into increasing the weight capacity of a stability ball than just the diameter so regardless of your weight you can still find an option that fits your size.
Material Of The Exercise Ball
Most exercise balls, especially the burst-resistant brands, are made of PVC, a type of plastic. PVC has high tensile strength, especially for the cost of production, which makes it a great choice for yoga balls along with an almost endless list of other products.
You will also see the occasional vinyl exercise balls but depending on the construction they may have a lower tensile strength compared to PVC.
Inflation Level Of The Stability Ball
While you want some firmness in your exercise ball, over-inflating can lead to bursting and as a result effectively decrease the overall weight capacity of the exercise ball. The ideal PSI will vary between brands and sizes, but you usually want to feel a little give when you sit or press on the ball.
Decreased inflation can increase the weight capacity, by further distributing the weight across a larger surface area, but it will also be harder to use.
Condition Of The Exercise Ball
Even though it seems obvious, this is one that often gets overlooked and the condition of the yoga ball, including the age, can impact the weight capacity. Of course, an obvious hole in the exercise ball means it’s going to have a limited weight capacity but more subtle factors like thin or worn-out material can weaken a stability ball.
This is one reason why I’m often hesitant around exercise balls at commercial gyms. While commercial gyms are more likely to have higher quality exercise balls that have higher weight capacity, these exercise balls are also going to go through a lot more wear and tear than one you’d keep at home.
Always take a quick look at an exercise ball before using it, whether that’s at home or the gym, and make sure it’s in a good enough condition to use.
Can An Exercise Ball Explode?
Yes, an exercise ball can burst and explode either from too much weight or a puncture while in use. However, there are many exercise balls are designed to be burst-resistant thanks to a combination of high-tensile strength material and a specific layered design. Instead of exploding, burst-resistant exercise balls are designed to deflate more slowly.
However, this isn’t perfect and even burst-resistant exercise balls can still deflate rapidly and cause injury. Still, opting for burst-resistant options, especially if you’re a bigger person is the best choice. Even if you’re not bigger, burst-resistant designs are still safer and can help reduce the risk of injury if you were to roll your yoga ball over a nail or anything else.
For a better idea of how this burst-resistant technology works, you can check out this exercise ball which was also able to survive more than 2,500 pound of pressure before giving out. Notice how there’s no explosion and rather a slow deflation compared to what you might imagine:
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve covered a lot of information about exercise ball weight capacity but let’s wrap up with a few of the more specific questions.
Is There A Difference Between Exercise Balls, Stability Balls, and Yoga Balls?
There’s no difference between exercise balls, stability balls, or yoga balls and they all refer to the same product. In fact, there are more than a dozen names that all describe the same product. The name changes depending on the use and includes names like balance ball, birth ball, gym ball, pilates ball, physio ball, and more to name some of the more popular variations.
How Much Weight Can A 75cm Exercise Ball Hold?
While the size or diameter of an exercise ball is a factor, it doesn’t make a significant difference when it comes to quality exercise balls. In other words, a 75cm exercise could hold as little as 300 pounds or as much as 2,000 pounds depending on the brand and design.
How Much Weight Can A 55cm Exercise Ball Hold?
55cm exercise balls from lower quality brands will usually hold somewhere between 250 to 300 pounds. However, there are dozens of quality and burst-resistant 55cm exercise balls that can hold thousands of pounds regardless of diameter.
Weight limits are just a part of your world when you’re a bigger person. Whether you’re talking about riding a bike, going parasailing, or even visiting a theme park weight is always something to consider. Usually, it’s a pretty straightforward process but it turns out there’s a lot more to exercise balls than meets the eye, and determining the weight capacity of the average stability ball without the product page in front of you can be pretty darn difficult.
Lower quality exercise balls may hold as little as 250 pounds and if you’re doing any kind of lifting or movement on the ball, it’s very easy to exceed that weight even if you’re not a heavy person. This is usually where exercise ball horror stories come from.
On the other hand, you have high-quality exercise balls that can handle more than two thousand pounds! Same product, but a more than 2,000-pound difference in weight capacity.
But hopefully, despite all this potential for confusion, you’ve found exactly what you need here.