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Gym Ball Exercises That Everyone Should Be Doing

Think back to the last time you saw a gym ball (also known as a Swiss ball, although no-one seems to know why). We’d wager it was in one of two scenarios: either being used as a dust magnet in a corner of your gym; or being the best supporting actor role in a viral video where the main protagonist will, after several seconds of desperately trying to regain their composure, fall arse over tit and land flat on their face.

But there’s far more to the gym ball than cleaning or comedy purposes. In the right hands it can be a secret weapon in your build-a-better-body arsenal because it’s one of the most versatile bits of kit in your gym and its potential uses are only limited by your imagination. What’s more, because it’s cheap and lightweight and can be quickly inflated and deflated, it’s one of the first items you should buy to set up a home gym.

The Benefits Of Using A Gym Ball

“The gym ball is so versatile it can be used to help someone who is just starting out in the gym as well as experienced exercisers,” says Stephen MacConville, Nuffield Health’s fitness lead.

“A gym ball can be used by beginners to work on their squat technique. If they place the gym ball between the wall and their lower back, it can be used to support their back and help increase the range of movement in the squat.

“Just sitting on a gym ball is great for learning basic co-ordination and balance, and for helping people to improve their awareness of the position and movement of their own body.”

“For the more advanced gym-goer it can help by adding an extra level of instability, increasing the challenge of their workouts in a new and potentially unfamiliar way.”

That instability makes all your stabiliser muscles – those unsung heroes that normally play second fiddle to the pecs, biceps and triceps – work to keep your balance while you perform exercises. Using them regularly for bodyweight moves builds functional strength all over your body that will reduce the risk of sporting injury, improve your posture and support the muscles responsible for taking the strain of heavier compound lifts like squats and overhead presses.

Common Gym Ball Mistakes

Using an unstable surface is great at times, but if you’re looking to work certain parts of the body harder, then a gym ball isn’t always your best bet.

“Adding an unstable surface increases complexity, not intensity,” says MacConville. “Many people perform sit-ups on a gym ball, thinking that it is more challenging for the core. However, you will gain greater benefit from just performing the actual exercise because it will engage the desired muscles rather than all the surrounding muscles.”

The gym ball is also used outside of workouts as an alternative office chair, but don’t use it as a replacement because it can result in worse posture than if you’d stuck with a chair.

“People believe using the gym ball will challenge their core and help them maintain good posture,” says MacConville. “While this is true initially, when the muscles become fatigued your posture can suffer significantly, causing you to sit in a worse position than you would have in a chair.”

Beginner Gym Ball Exercises

Gym ball crunch

Lie with your mid-back on the ball, your knees bent at 90° and your feet planted firmly on the ground. Place your fingers to your temples and lean back over the ball to stretch your abs. Exhale, then contract your abs to bring your torso up. Pause at the top. This move is about the quality of muscle contraction so keep the tempo slow and controlled.

Gym ball reverse crunch

Hold the ball between your calves and the backs of your thighs. Curl your hips off the floor and bring your knees towards your chest. Pause at the top, then lower slowly to the start.

Gym ball crunch twist

Lie with your back on the ball, your feet flat on the floor and your fingers touching your temples. Contract your upper abs to raise your torso off the ball. As you come up twist to one side, pause, then twist all the way to the other side and pause. Return to the start to complete one rep.

Gym ball pec squeeze

Do this drill six days in a row, taking day seven off. Stand tall, holding a gym ball between your elbows with your upper arms parallel to the floor. Squeeze the ball, as if you were using a pec deck, for 20sec, then rest for 60sec. Do this five times. Every two days increase the squeeze time by 5sec. After three weeks you’ll be doing 60sec squeezes with a bigger and stronger chest.

Intermediate Gym Ball Exercises

Gym ball incline plank

Rest your weight on your elbows on the ball. Hold your body in a straight line from head to heels without your hips sagging. Maintain that position for 30 seconds.

Gym ball Russian Twist

Lie with your upper back supported on the gym ball with arms straight above your chest and hands together. Keeping your arms straight and together, rotate your torso to one side to lower your hands towards the ground. Pause, then twist all the way to the other side and pause. Return to the start to complete one rep.

Gym ball jackknife

Hold your body in a straight line with your feet on the ball, hands under shoulders. Draw your knees in towards your chest, then return them to the start without letting your hips sag.

Gym ball roll-out

Kneel in front of the gym ball and rest your forearms on the side of the ball closest to you. Extend your arms to roll the ball forwards, using your abs muscles to control the wobble and keep your body steady. Then roll it back again slowly to return to the start, keeping your back flat throughout.

Gym ball leg scissors

Hold the ball off the floor between your feet. Rotate your lower body to one side, then to the other. Continue, alternating sides.

Gym ball lateral crunch

Lie side-on to the ball and jam your feet against a wall for support. Lift your torso sideways as far as you can. Pause at the top and lower slowly, then repeat on the other side.

Advanced Gym Ball Exercises

Gym ball side plank

Rest one elbow on the ball. Hold your body in a straight line from head to feet. Maintain that position for 30-60 seconds without letting your hips sag.

Gym ball incline press-up

Start in a press-up position but with your palms on the gym ball, shoulder-width apart. Brace your core and bend your elbows to lower your chest to the ball. Press back up powerfully to the start.

Gym ball passing V-sit

Hold the ball between your feet, keeping your arms and legs straight. Lift your legs and arms together to pass the ball from feet and hands. Lower your arms and legs slowly, passing the ball back and forth.

Gym ball chest press

Lie holding dumbbells with your upper back on the ball and your knees bent at 90° with your feet planted on the floor. Start with arms straight and the weights above your head. Bend your elbows to lower them to your chest, then press back up to the start.

Scorpions

Get into a press-up position with one foot on the ball. Bend the other knee and twist your body to one side. Twist your body to the other side, bringing your knee underneath you.

Gym ball pike

Hold your body in a straight line from head to heels with your feet on the ball and your hands directly beneath your shoulders. Contract your abs to draw your feet towards your hands so your body forms an inverted V-shape. Brace your core throughout the set to stay stable, and breathe in as you raise your hips and out as you lower.

Gym Ball Circuit

To sculpt a rock-hard six-pack you need to work your abs harder than ever before. Do this six-move circuit using exercises described above in order, only resting for three minutes after the final move. Then repeat the circuit, completing it four times in total.

Incline press-up

Reps 10

It starts with a press-up variation that works your entire core thanks to the instability created by using the ball.

Crunch twist

Reps 10

This move works your upper abs as well as your obliques, or side abs. Keep each rep smooth and controlled with your abs engaged throughout.

Russian twist

Reps 10

This next exercise continues to tax your obliques hard, helping them grow so you can sculpt a strong and tight six-pack.

Pike

Reps 10

This move requires a full activation of your deep-lying core muscles so your upper and lower body can work as a single unit.

Roll-out

Reps 10

Roll-outs on a ball are harder than on a barbell because your entire core must work hard to prevent sideways movement of the ball as you roll it forwards and back.

Incline plank

Time 60sec

The final move of the circuit is an incline plank, done for time, not reps. Keep your core tight throughout and breathe slowly and consistently.

For the longest time, I had no idea what a BOSU ball was. I called it “that weird half stability ball thing” and assumed it wasn’t something people actually used at the gym. And then I became a fitness editor and payed a lot more attention to what many different people actually use during workouts, and, yes, I realized the BOSU ball was indeed legit.

I’ve seen Instagram posts of celebrities like Shay Mitchell and model Jasmine Tookes using the exercise tool; I’ve watched random people at the gym drag it to their corner and put it to work; I’ve even seen some of my favorite trainers use them in their own workouts. The reason people like it? It’s a great tool for adding an extra stability (hello, core!) challenge to any workout.

“The beauty of a BOSU is that you can perform all types of exercises with it—everything from leg exercises balancing on it, to core exercises and even upper-body and cardio work,” says Autumn Calabrese, Beachbody super trainer and creator of 80-Day Obsession. In any of those scenarios, it simply adds an extra element of instability, which requires you to engage more of the small muscles in your core that help you control your body and stay balanced.

Ultimately, you’ll get a more intense core workout—no matter what muscles the exercise technically targets—and improve your balance by using a tool that challenges stability like a BOSU ball. “It also can help improve proprioception (knowing where your body is in space),” says Calabrese. Having a greater sense of body awareness helps you better control your movements, positioning, and ultimately, both your posture and ability to do exercises with proper form. So like, it’s kind of a big deal.

“The BOSU is absolutely a tool worth trying,” Calabrese says, though she does note that adding a stability challenge isn’t a good idea for every single exercise, namely any one that has you lifting a lot of weight and doesn’t leave your hands free in case you fall. “An example of this would be having the unstable side of the BOSU (the blue side) on the ground, standing on the black side (the hard flat side), putting a barbell on your shoulders, and performing squats. That is a very dangerous exercise that could cause serious injury if you were to lose your balance,” she says. “A way to correct that would be to hold dumbbells at your sides—those you can let go of easily if you start to fall.”

Like any new exercise or piece of equipment, it’s best to start with the basics and work up to more complex moves after you’ve built your stability a bit. Before you do anything else, simply stand on the blue side of the BOSU to get a feel for it. Yes, you’ll feel wobbly, but with time, you’ll start to feel more stable. Then, try out some of the moves below.

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A stability ball is often used to replace a bench for weight training to challenge your balance when doing various exercises. Using the stability ball will improve functional strength and actively engage the muscles of the core when you’re performing exercises on it.

Benefits

Weight training on a stability ball helps enhance balance as well as strength. It gives you more options and can change the intensity of a traditional exercise on the floor. Using a stability ball allows you to work muscles that may have been neglected in standard exercises where there is no demand for balance. Posture is also effected by using the stability ball; as we gain strength and balance, posture is positively effected.

Bench vs. Ball

The same exercises that can be done on a flat bench can also be done on a stability ball. The difference is stability vs. an unstable surface. According to a study done by the Department of Exercise and Sports Science at Ithaca College, when training with a chest press exercise, the stability ball helps improve strength and work capacity. Having this unstable surface fires more muscles in your upper body during resistance training to help you find balance to complete the exercise.

Sitting, Standing, Lying

The stability ball can be used in resistance training to hit all muscles of the body and in all different positions. Sitting on the stability ball to perform an exercise requires the core muscles to be actively engaged as well as those being used in the specific exercise. For example, a lateral raise could be performed sitting on a stability ball to create an unsteady surface. The ball can also be used standing to target the lower body. For a ball squat, place the stability ball between your back and a wall, then you use the wall for support as you lower down into a squat. The ball also can act as a flat bench, and you can lie on it to perform exercises like a chest presses, skull crushers and a even chest fly.

Choosing a Weight

Because of the unstable surface of a stability ball, carefully choose your weight for a given exercise. You will typically use less weight on an unstable surface because your muscles will be more challenged.

Training the Core

The American Council of Exercise says the stability ball is one of the most versatile pieces of exercise equipment because it works the trunk in almost every exercise performed. A standard crunch can be performed on the ball, but with the unstable surface, all muscles of the core will be engaged to maintain form and function. Adding more resistance, like holding a weight on the chest, will make the exercise more challenging.

30 Swiss Ball Exercises For The Upper Body, Abs, Back, And Lower Body Charushila Biswas Hyderabd040-395603080 January 9, 2020

Adding Swiss ball exercises to your workout is like adding a catalyst to a reaction. These light and bouncy balls help you shape up by improving your balance and flexibility and strengthening your body.

Fitness coaches believe that Swiss ball exercises have a noticeable advantage over other fitness tools or training with your own body weight. You must know how to use a Swiss ball to reap all its benefits. Otherwise, you will see zero results and may injure yourself.

In this article, you will find detailed steps to do Swiss ball exercises for the upper body, lower body, and core, sets and reps, and much more. Read on.

What Is The Swiss Ball And How Does It Work?

The Swiss ball is also known as the exercise ball, gym ball, balance ball, gym ball, or pezzi ball. It is soft and comes in different sizes. It is made of elastic and filled with air. It was developed by Aquilino Cosani, an Italian plastics manufacturer, and was known as the gymnastik.

Initially, it was used for physical rehabilitation, but in the 1980s and 1990s, American therapists started using these balls in the athletic arena. Later, these balls became a key tool in the fitness industry.

The Swiss ball works by acting as a surface, weight, and workout machine. The instability of a bouncy round ball works on all the major and minor muscle groups in your body. It also adds resistance to your movement, thereby making you use muscle strength and muscle power to complete the exercise.

Swiss ball exercises work on a deep core muscle, the transverse abdominis. The benefits of adding Swiss ball exercises to your workout routine are that they help you build a strong core and get flat abs (or belly), improve balance, and reduce back and neck pain (1), (2), (3). Here are 30 Swiss ball exercises you can try out.

30 Best Swiss Ball Or Stability Ball Exercises

Always warm-up before starting any exercise. Here’s a warm-up routine for you.

Warm-Up

  • Head tilts – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Neck turns – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Arm circles – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Wrist circles – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Shoulder circles – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Waist circles – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Side lunges – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Calf raises – 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Spot jogging – 3 minutes
  • Jumping jacks – 2 sets of 20 reps
  • Ankle circles- 1 set of 10 reps
  • Standing side crunches – 1 set of 10 reps

Let’s begin with the Swiss ball exercises for the upper body.

Upper Body Swiss Ball Exercises

1. Swiss Ball Dumbbell Tricep Extension

Target – Triceps, biceps, wrist flexors and extensors, shoulders, core, and glutes.

Steps

  1. Grab the dumbbells and sit on the stability ball.
  2. Walk ahead and assume a supine position. Your upper back must rest on the ball, shins should be at right angles with the thighs, and feet flat and shoulder-width apart, in line with your knees. Keep your glutes and core engaged and hips in line with the upper back.
  3. Lift your hands above your head. Breathe in, flex your elbows, and slowly drop your forearms until the dumbbells are in line with your ears. Make sure your elbows point toward the ceiling when you flex your hands.
  4. Exhale and push your forearms up and extend your hands back up above your head.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 15 reps

Rest – 90 secs

2. Swiss Ball Tricep Dip

Youtube

Target – Triceps, biceps, wrist flexors and extensors, glutes, hamstrings, shoulders, and calves.

  1. If you are a beginner, push the ball to a corner and stabilize it.
  2. Sit on top of the ball and place your hands on it, right beside your buttocks. Walk your feet out and support your body on your heels and palms that are slightly pushing into the stability ball. Your shins should be at about 60 degrees with your thighs.
  3. Slowly, move your buttocks away from the stability ball and go down until they are about to touch the floor.
  4. Keeping your core engaged, get back up, and repeat.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 15 reps

Rest – 90 secs

3. Swiss Ball Rear Deltoid Row

Youtube

Target – Back of your shoulders, biceps, wrist flexors and extensors, hamstrings, glutes, and core.

  1. Lie on your belly on the Swiss ball. Support your lower body on your toes. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and let the weight of your body fall on the Swiss ball. Keep your neck in line with your spine.
  2. Extend your arms sideways, bend your elbows a little, and lift your arms until they are in line with your shoulders. Squeeze and contract your shoulder blades.
  3. Pause for a second and slowly lower your arms.

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 15 reps

Rest – 60 secs

4. Swiss Ball Dumbbell Chest Press

Youtube

Target – Chest, shoulders, core, biceps, and triceps.

  1. Sit on the Swiss ball and hold a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Walk forward and rest the upper side of your back on the Swiss ball. Keep your feet flat on the ground, glutes in line with the thighs and upper body as if you are bridging. Engage your core.
  3. Hold the dumbbells at the chest level, with your arms at right angles with the forearms and palms facing forward.
  4. Exhale and press the weight up and extend your hands right above your chest.
  5. Inhale and lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 15 reps

Rest – 20 secs

5. Swiss Ball Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Youtube

Target – Shoulders, biceps, triceps, and chest.

  1. Sit on the Swiss ball. Keep your feet flat on the ground and hold a dumbbell in each hand right near the edge of your shoulders. Keep your palms facing forward, elbows in line with the chest, and core engaged.
  2. Exhale and lift the dumbbells as you extend your arms above your head. Let the two dumbbells touch.
  3. Inhale and bring the arms back down to the starting position.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 15 reps

Rest – 20 secs

6. Swiss Ball Decline Push-Up

Youtube

Target – Biceps, triceps, chest, upper back, shoulders, wrist flexors and extensors, and core.

  1. Roll up on a Swiss ball, walk on your hands, and roll ahead until your knees and shins are resting on the Swiss ball, and the rest of the body is supported on your palms.
  2. Keeping your core engaged and palms facing forward, push your body down by flexing your elbows until your chin is about to touch the ground.
  3. Come back up.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 5 reps

Rest – 60 secs

Tip: Increase the reps as you progress and become more comfortable with this exercise.

7. Swiss Ball Incline Push-Up

Youtube

Target – Biceps, triceps, chest, upper back, shoulders, wrist flexors and extensors, and core.

  1. Hold a Swiss ball and place it on the floor.
  2. Stabilize your body by placing the palms on the ball, slightly pointing outward, and extend your legs behind. Your body should be at 60 degrees with the floor. Keep your core engaged, arms extended, and toes flexed.
  3. Look at the floor and push down by flexing your elbows until your chest almost touches the ball.
  4. Push back up to the starting position.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 5 reps

Rest – 50 secs

Tip: Increase the reps as you progress and become more comfortable with this exercise.

8. Swiss Ball Lat Pull

Youtube

Target – Lats, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and chest.

  1. For this exercise, you need to keep your Swiss ball on the edge of a pull lift machine.
  2. Stand on the platform and grab hold of the pull handles. Sit down on the Swiss ball. Keep your feet wide apart to stabilize your body. Your palms must face each other.
  3. Sitting straight and keeping the core engaged, pull down the handles until your elbows shoot past your chest and move toward your back.
  4. Extend your arms slowly and go back up again to the starting position.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 15 reps

Rest – 50 secs

9. Swiss Ball Dumbbell Chest Fly

Youtube

Target – Chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and upper back.

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and sit on the Swiss ball. Place your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Flex your elbows and bring the dumbbells at the same level as your chest. Hold them as if you are going to do hammer curls.
  3. Walk out toward the front until your upper back is resting on the Swiss ball. Your feet must be flat on the ground, and buttocks lifted and in line with the rest of your body.
  4. Push your arms up, extend them fully above your chest, and keep your neck in line with your spine. This is the starting position.
  5. Bring the dumbbells down from above your chest to above the sides of your chest. Your arms should be at 60 degrees with your forearm.
  6. Push your arms back up to the starting position.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 5 reps

Rest – 50 secs

Tip: Increase the reps as you progress and become more comfortable with this exercise.

These were the exercises for the upper body. Now, let’s move on to the core.

Swiss Ball Exercises For The Core

10. Swiss Ball Crunches

Youtube

Target – upper abs, lower abs, middle abs, obliques, lats, and shoulders.

  1. Sit on a Swiss ball with your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Roll down by walking forward and rest your back on the Swiss ball. Support your head and neck by placing the fingertips on the sides of your head. Make sure you are pushing your back into the ball and keep your neck in line with the spine.
  3. Lift your upper body and crunch.
  4. Go back down to the starting position and repeat.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 10 reps

Rest – 30 secs

11. Swiss Ball Russian Twist

Youtube

Target – Obliques, core, deltoids, and lats.

  1. Sit on a Swiss ball, and keep your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Roll down and let your shoulder blades rest on the ball. Your hips should be in line with the rest of the body.
  3. Extend your hands up above the chest. Clasp them together, and start rotating first to the right and then to the left. Make sure the movement happens through your upper torso. As you do so, the ball will also move and help you stabilize the movement.
  4. After finishing your set, walk-in and return to the seated position.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 10 reps

Rest – 30 secs

12. Swiss Ball Knee Tuck

Youtube

Target – Core, shoulders, hamstrings, and quads.

  1. Put a stability ball in front of you on the floor. Bend down and rest your hands on the ball. Keep your knees on the ball, hands on the floor, and walk ahead on your hands until your knees and shins are resting on the ball. You are in a decline push-up position now.
  2. Keep your core engaged, head down, and hands shoulder-width apart. Roll the ball and bring your knees close to your chest.
  3. Roll the ball back and extend your legs back to the push-up position.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 10 reps

Rest – 30 secs

Tip: Increase the reps as you progress and become more comfortable with this exercise.

13. Swiss Ball Pike Crunch

Youtube

Target – Core, shoulders, glutes, hamstrings, and quads.

  1. This is an advanced move. Ask your trainer to help you if you are a beginner.
  2. Position the Swiss ball behind you, lift your legs and place them on the ball. Support your upper body by placing your palms flat on the floor. Lift your hips in line with the rest of your body and keep your toes pointed. This plank position is the starting position.
  3. Push your hips up towards the ceiling, drop your head, and look at your thighs. Hold this pose for 2 seconds.
  4. Push your hips down and go back to the plank position.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 5 reps

Rest – 30 secs

14. Swiss Ball Crossover Crunch

Youtube

Target – Core, obliques, and shoulders.

  1. Sit on a Swiss ball. Keep your feet flat on the ground. Roll down and let your lower backrest on the ball. Support your head by placing your hands behind it.
  2. Fall back on the ball, keep your core engaged, pull your upper body up, and twist to your left.
  3. Fall back on the ball, pull your upper body up, and twist to your right.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 5 reps

Rest – 30 secs

15. Swiss Ball Pelvic Tilt

Youtube

Target – Abs, pelvic floor muscles, and glutes.

  1. Sit on the floor and put the Swiss ball under your heels. Lie back down on the mat and align yourself. Keep your hands on the sides and palms facing down.
  2. Squeeze your glutes and pull your hips up. Go as high as you can. Hold this position for 2 seconds and then go back down.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 10 reps

Rest – 30 secs

16. Swiss Ball Incline Plank

Youtube

Target – Core

  1. Stand behind the Swiss ball and position your elbows on the top center of the ball and interlock your fingers.
  2. Extend your legs back and support your body on your toes.
  3. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds.

Sets And Reps – 2 sets

Rest – 60 secs

17. Swiss Ball Decline Plank

Youtube

Target – Core

  1. Bend over a Swiss ball and place your palms on the floor. Walk out on your hands until your legs are straight, and your knees and shins are on the Swiss ball.
  2. Keep your arms straight and core engaged and hold this pose for 30-60 seconds.
  3. Walk back to the initial position.

Sets And Reps – 2 sets

Rest – 60 secs

18. Swiss Ball Side Plank

Youtube

Target – Core and obliques.

  1. Kneel down and keep the Swiss ball on the right. Hold it with your right hand and stabilize it by holding it close to your pelvic region.
  2. Straighten your left leg. Keep your foot flat on the ground, and bend on your right to support and stabilize your body.
  3. Straighten the right leg, but keep it behind the left. Keep your right elbow behind the shoulders, and rest the side of your torso on the Swiss ball.
  4. Exhale and pull your body off the ball. Support your body on your feet and keep your hands on the ball. Keep breathing and hold this pose for 30 seconds.
  5. Breathe out and lower your body back to the starting position.

Sets And Reps – 2 sets

Rest – 60 secs

19. Swiss Ball V-Pass

Youtube

Target – Upper and lower abs, shoulders, glutes, quads, and hamstrings.

  1. Lie down on a mat and place the Swiss ball between your ankles.
  2. Hold the ball with the sides of your ankles.
  3. Keeping your legs straight, bring your legs toward your upper body. Simultaneously, curl your upper body up. Keep your hands extended and reach out for the ball.
  4. Pass the ball from between your ankles to your hands and lower your legs and hands, but do not let them touch the ground.
  5. Exhale and curl back up and pass the ball from your hands to between the sides of your feet.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 5 reps

Rest – 30 secs

20. Swiss Ball Mountain Climber

Youtube

Target – Core, obliques, quads, and glutes.

  1. Stand in front of a Swiss ball. Bend down and place your palms on it. Keep your arms shoulder-width apart, extend your legs behind, and get into a plank position.
  2. Keeping your core engaged, inhale, and bring your right knee toward your chest and then push it back.
  3. Bring your left knee toward your chest and then push it back.
  4. Do this on medium speed.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 15 reps

Rest – 30 secs

Doing these core exercises with the Swiss ball will help you strengthen and tone your abs. Here’s how to tone your back with the stability or Swiss ball.

Swiss Ball Exercises For The Back

21. Swiss Ball Arm And Leg Lift

Youtube

Target – Lats, deltoids, glutes, and hamstrings.

  1. Lie on your belly on a Swiss ball and support your body by keeping your arms straight and palms on the floor. Support your lower body by flexing your toes and keeping your legs shoulder-width apart.
  2. Raise your right arm and point it straight ahead. Keep your gaze down, toward the floor. Raise your left leg simultaneously, with the toes pointing out.
  3. Hold it for one second and release.
  4. Raise your left arm and point it straight ahead and simultaneously raise your right leg, with the toes pointing out.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 10 reps

Rest – 30 secs

22. Swiss Ball Back Extension

Youtube

Target – Lats, deltoids, rhomboids, and glutes.

  1. Kneel in front of a Swiss ball. Roll over it and bring your pelvis over the center of the ball. Keep your hands straight down and palms flat on the floor. Support your lower body on your toes.
  2. Keeping your lower back still, squeeze your glutes, and lift your right leg. Hold it for a second and lower your leg.
  3. Keeping your lower back still, squeeze your glutes, and lift your left leg. Hold it for a second and lower your leg.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 10 reps

Rest – 45 secs

23. Swiss Ball Superman

Youtube

Target – Middle back, shoulders, glutes, and hamstrings.

  1. Kneel in front of a wall and behind a Swiss ball.
  2. Roll over on the ball until your hips are on the top center of the ball and feet against the wall and a little wider than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Extend your right arm and then your left, and lift your upper body and go back down.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 10 reps

Rest – 45 secs

24. Swiss Ball Prone Cobra

Youtube

Target – Deltoids, rhomboids, and lats.

  1. Lie on the Swiss ball. Your rib cage area should be at the top center of the ball.
  2. Move your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your toes flexed, and hands extended and a little more than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Move your arms back, pull your upper body up, and look down. Hold this pose for 10 seconds.
  4. Drop down and bring your arms back to the initial position.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 10 reps

Rest – 30 secs

These were the exercises for the back with a Swiss ball or stability ball. Let’s move on to Swiss ball exercises for the lower body.

Lower Body Swiss Ball Exercises

25. Swiss Ball Hamstring Curl

Youtube

Target – Hamstrings and gastrocnemius muscles.

  1. Lie down on your back on a mat. Lift your legs and tuck your lower leg so that the femur and shin are at right angles with each other.
  2. Place the Swiss ball right below your heels. Keep your hands on your sides and palms facing down.
  3. Lift your buttocks, roll the ball, and straighten the legs.
  4. Bring the legs back to the initial position and roll the ball back in.
  5. After completing the reps, lower your buttocks.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 10 reps

Rest – 30 secs

26. Swiss Ball Wall Squat

Youtube

Target – Glutes, hamstring, and quads.

  1. Place the ball between the wall and your back. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Squat down slowly and then get back up.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 10 reps

Rest – 60 secs

27. Swiss Ball Single-Leg Bridge

Youtube

Target – Glutes and core.

  1. Lie down on your back and put your feet up on a Swiss ball. Your shins should be at right angles with your thighs, and palms flat on the floor.
  2. Lift your hips so that your torso is in line with the thighs.
  3. Raise your left foot from the Swiss ball and hold this pose for 5 seconds.
  4. Lower your leg, put your foot back on the ball, and lower your hips.
  5. Bridge again and raise your right leg. Hold this pose for 5 seconds and go back to the starting position.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 5 reps

Rest – 30 secs

28. Swiss Ball Hip Extension

Youtube

Target – Calves, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.

  1. Place the ball on the edge of the mat. Lie down on the floor and put your legs up on the ball. Your legs should form a 60-degree angle with the floor. Keep your arms in a ‘T’ formation and palms facing upward. Your calves and heels should rest on the ball. Ensure your toes are pointing to the ceiling, and abs are engaged.
  2. Inhale and lift your hips. Exhale and lower your hips back to the floor.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 10 reps

Rest – 45 secs

29. Swiss Ball Hip Raise

Youtube

Target – Glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and core.

  1. Place the ball at the edge of the mat. Lie down on the floor, extend your legs, and put them up on the ball. Keep your hands on the side and palms facing down.
  2. Inhale and push your hips up. Keep your legs straight. Hold this position for a second.
  3. Exhale and return to the starting position.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 15 reps

Rest – 60 secs

30. Swiss Ball Glute Kickback

Youtube

Target – Glutes, quads, hamstrings, adductors, and lower abs.

  1. Lay your body on the Swiss ball. Your belly and pelvis should be at the top center of the ball. Support your body on your palms and toes. Keep your legs a little wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Supporting your body on your palms, lift both your legs and kick back toward the ceiling.
  3. Lower your legs back to the starting position.

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 10 reps

Rest – 45 secs

Before you start using or buy one, here’s how to choose a Swiss ball for exercising.

Which Swiss Ball Should You Choose?

Swiss balls come in different sizes. Depending on your height, choose the perfect Swiss ball.

If you are 4’11”- 5’4” tall, you should opt for the 55 cm diameter Swiss ball. If you are 5’4” – 5’7” tall, go for the 65 cm diameter ball, and if you are 5’1” – 6’7” tall, use the 75 cm diameter ball.

Sit on the ball and check if your thighs and shins are at right angles with each other and your feet flat on the floor. Now, you are good to go and start exercising.

Conclusion

The Swiss ball is a great exercise tool to activate different muscles in the body and strengthen and tone them. Use a Swiss ball for working out, and you will start feeling the difference in just a few days’ time. Go on and add some fun element to your workout routine that will give you amazing results. Cheers!

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Are exercise balls good for abs?

Yes, exercise balls are good for abs. You need to learn the right technique from a trained professional.

Does sitting on an exercise ball strengthen your back?

Swiss ball exercises are great for strengthening the back. However, if you have a back injury, you must do the exercises recommended by your doctor under the supervision of your physical therapist.

3 sources

Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  • The Effect of Swiss Ball Stabilization Exercise on Pain and Bone Mineral Density of Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain, Journal of Physical Therapy Science, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3820231/
  • The effects of trunk stabilization exercise using a Swiss ball in the absence of visual stimulus on balance in the elderly, Journal of Physical Therapy Science, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4968524/
  • Effects of stabilization exercises with a Swiss ball on neck-shoulder pain and mobility of adults with prolonged exposure to VDTs, Journal of Physical Therapy Science, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4434028/

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Charushila Biswas is a Senior Content Writer and an ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist. She is an alumni of VIT University, Vellore and has worked on transgenic wheat as a part of her Masters dissertation from NRCPB (IARI), New Delhi. After completing her Masters, she developed a passion for nutrition and fitness, which are closely related to human psychology. And that prompted her to author a review article in 2015. She has written over 200 articles on Fitness and Nutrition. In her leisure time, Charushila loves to cook and enjoys mobile photography.

Balance Ball Therapy: 4 Exercises for Back and Knee Problems

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You’ve seen how crunches on a Balance Ball exercise ball (a/k/a stability ball or fitness ball) can tone your abs. But you might not know that Balance Ball exercises can also prevent and rehabilitate injuries and help alleviate chronic pain.

Exercise physiologist Tom Holland says a Balance Ball stability ball forces your body to use different muscles, as well as use your muscles in a different way, which can help prevent and correct muscle imbalances. “It connects your mind to your muscles,” he explains.

Here’s some expert advice and four exercises with how-to photos to help you put that connection to work in your exercise routine.

How does a Balance Ball prevent or rehabilitate injury?

Improves balance by activating proprioception

A Balance Ball provides an unstable surface that activates the proprioceptive system — the system that tells the body where its limbs are within space, says exercise physiologist Rick Kaselj. “When you hurt yourself, your proprioceptive ability is decreased,” he says. So working on the ball not only improves your sense of balance but can decrease your risk of injury or re-injury. This is especially useful for older adults whose sense of balance is often compromised.

When you use a Balance Ball, you’re “yelling at those muscles to work harder because the surface underneath you is unstable,” says physical therapist Chantal Donnelly, whose Strong Knees therapeutic exercise DVD from Gaiam guides a therapeutic routine to help prevent and treat knee problems.

Builds strength in weak or overtaxed muscles

Injuries and chronic pain are often caused by weak or overused muscles, or other muscles compensating for the weak or overused ones.

“We know that core strength can prevent everything from ankle, knee and hip injuries to back and shoulder injuries,” says Donnelly. “Without control and power radiating from the center of the body, the smaller, more peripheral muscles are overtaxed, leading to pain and injury.

Using a Balance Ball while exercising, she explains, forces you to challenge important core muscles.

If a golfer, for example, does not have strong core muscles, he may end up using only his shoulder muscles while swinging the club and, inevitably, suffer rotator cuff problems. You can also use the ball to increase strength in the gluteus maximus (butt muscles) to prevent pelvic instability, which can lead to knee, ankle or iliotibial band (IT) problems for runners.

Increases range of motion

After a knee or hip injury, part of the rehabilitation process is to increase the range of motion of the injured area.

Simply rocking back and forth on the ball can increase range of motion in your hips, says Kaselj. He also suggests doing exercises, like hamstring curls (detailed below), on the ball to strengthen the muscles around your knee and help extend range of motion.

Research shows that decreased range of motion in the hips can make people prone to shoulder problems, says Donnelly. “Everything is interconnected,” she points out.

Two ball exercises for back problems

Librarian Geoff Greenberg sits on an office chair all day, but when he gets home and needs to get on the computer, he sits on a Balance Ball. Greenberg hurt his back six years ago when he was lifting an amplifier. “It was like WHOAH!” he says. “I triggered something awful.

His chiropractor recommended sitting on the ball and doing sit-ups to strengthen his core muscles, and his pain subsided soon after.

Doing any type of exercise on the ball activates your deep stabilizing muscles, which support the lumbar spine. Just using the ball in a strength training routine, as opposed to a weight bench, will help decrease lower back pain.

If you have more serious pain or back injury, you may need to build up to using the Balance Ball, says Donnelly. The first step is to reduce inflammation with small movements and then move on to Balance Ball exercises to really challenge and strengthen your muscles.

1. Back Extensions

  • Lie with your stomach on the ball.
  • With your legs out straight behind you, curl your toes under to keep from sliding.
  • Place your hands behind your head.
  • As you exhale, draw in your abdominals and lift your chest off of the ball.
  • Repeat 10 times.

2. Plank

  • Place your forearms on a mat, with your feet on the ball.
  • Draw in your abdominals and make sure that you are in a straight plank position (no sagging in the lower back).
  • Hold that position for 30 seconds.
  • Be sure to breathe.

Two ball exercises for hip and knee problems

A weak core not only leads to lower back problems, but can also be the cause of lower body injuries, says Holland.

Using the ball for one-legged hamstring curls or one-legged ball squats helps correct imbalances in the lower body that can lead to numerous muscle, tendon and joint issues and injuries in the knees and legs. “These simple exercises force the body to recruit muscles in a way that traditional strength machines can’t.”

Strengthening the muscles around the knee, says Donnelly, can take strain off the ACL, which can help rehabilitate the knee after surgery or help prevent injury altogether.

IT band tightness and bursitis are two common hip problems that can be fixed by strengthening your glutes in order to stop overuse of the wrong muscles.

1. Hamstring Curls

  • Lying on a mat, place your feet on the ball and bend your knees so that they are at a right angle.
  • As you exhale, draw in your abdominals and lift your hips up towards the ceiling.
  • Inhale at the top of the movement and exhale to return back to the mat.
  • Repeat 12 times.

2. Hip Extensions

  • Lie on a mat and place both feet on the ball. Your legs should be straight.
  • Exhale, draw in your abdominals and lift your hips up towards the ceiling.
  • Inhale at the top of the movement and exhale to return back to the mat.
  • Repeat 12 times.

10 of the Best Stability Ball Exercises

Increased stability is useful for many reasons, both in and out of the gym. Stable joints are less prone to injury, because they have the strength to stay in the correct position during taxing movements. Additionally, being able to move your body as one cohesive unit helps when it comes to weightlifting, running, and other athletic endeavors, Braun says.

10 Exercise Ball Moves

Ready to start sculpting your muscles and improving your stability? Try these stability ball exercises that can be done in the gym or at home.

1. Stability ball jackknife

Benefits: This core exercise does double duty by strengthening the hip flexors and crunching your abs.

  • Get in a high-plank position with your hands directly underneath your shoulders and your shins on top of a stability ball.
  • Brace your core to keep your body in a straight line from head to toes. This is your starting position.
  • Squeeze your core and bend your knees to roll the stability ball toward your hands until only your toes are resting on the ball, keeping your hips down as you do so.
  • Pause, then slowly straighten your legs back behind you, returning to the starting position.

2. Stability ball hamstring curl

Benefits: Strengthen your hamstrings and glutes with this seemingly simple move, while also engaging your core.

  • Lie with your back flat on the floor with the back of your calves on top of a stability ball and your legs straight.
  • Brace your core and squeeze your glutes to raise your hips off of the floor so that your body forms a straight line from shoulders to heels. This is your starting position.
  • Drag your heels to roll the ball as close to your butt as possible or until your knees form 90-degree angles.
  • Pause, then slowly straighten your legs as you roll your feet away from your glutes, returning to the starting position.

3. Stability ball deadbug

Benefits: Deadbug exercises teach your core to work as it was designed to do — keeping your spine stable while your arms and legs do their own thing. This variation cranks it up a notch by requiring an extra ab squeeze to keep the stability ball in place, while also targeting your obliques.

  • Lie with your back flat on the floor with your arms extended straight up, your legs bent at 90 degrees, and holding a stability ball between your knees and your hands. This is the starting position.
  • Keeping the ball in place with your right hand and left knee, brace your core and slowly lower your right leg and left arm to within six inches of the floor (both should remain in line with your body). Only go as low as you can with your low back pressing in to the floor.
  • Reverse the move to return to the starting position, and repeat on your other side.
  • Continue alternating sides, performing equal reps on each side.

4. Stability ball V-pass

Benefits: Challenge your entire body with this next-level stability ball exercise. It works your core as you pass the ball between your hands and feet, and you have to engage your inner thighs and arms to keep the ball from falling to the ground.

  • Lie with your back flat on the floor with your legs extended straight on the floor, holding a stability ball overhead with both hands. Brace your core to minimize any arch in your lower back. This is your starting position.
  • Squeeze your abs to lift your arms and legs to place the ball between your calves, creating a “V” position.
  • Lower back down to the starting position, but this time with the ball between your legs.
  • Repeat the movement, passing the ball back and forth between your hands and legs.

5. Stability decline push-up

Benefits: This advanced bodyweight move is a version of a decline push-up that challenges your core just as much as your arms. You should be able to perform regular push-ups with confidence before taking on this exercise. (Here are some tips to get better at push-ups.)

  • Get in a high-plank position with your hands directly underneath your shoulders and your toes on top of a stability ball. Brace your core and squeeze your glutes to keep your body in one straight line from head to toes for the entire move.
  • Bend your elbows to lower your chest toward the ground, keeping your elbows tucked close to your body. They should form a 45 degree angle to your torso when viewed from above.
  • Press your arms straight to return to the plank position and repeat.

6. Stability ball wall squat

Benefits: Strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and quads while building stability through your hips and core. Perform back-to-back reps, or hold each rep as long as possible.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a stability ball between the middle of your back and a wall. Your feet should be slightly in front of your body. This is your starting position.
  • Bend your knees to roll your body down the ball until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your knees should be in line with your middle toes
  • Pause, then press through your heels to return to starting position and repeat.
  • Make this move harder by holding a dumbbell in each hand.

7. Russian twist

Benefits: Improve your core’s stability and rotational strength in one simple move that really targets your obliques and transverse abdominis.

  • Lie with your upper back on a stability ball and your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Brace your core and keep your hips extended so your torso forms a straight line from head to knees.
  • Extend your arms straight above your chest and press your palms together. This is your starting position.
  • Rotate your torso to roll onto one shoulder as far as you can while raising the other from the ball. Your hips should stay square with the floor.
  • Reverse the move to return to the starting position.
  • Repeat, rolling onto the opposite shoulder

8. Single-leg stability ball hip thrust

Benefits: This advanced hip thrust variation builds your glutes and hamstrings by training one leg at once, helping to correct any muscle imbalance between legs. Using a stability ball rather than bench hones in on single-leg hip stability even further. Practice with both feet flat on the floor, and then both feet on the ball before graduating to this advanced move.

  • Lie with your back flat on the floor and both feet on a stability ball, legs bent at a 90 degree angle. Rest your arms straight on the ground by your sides.
  • Lift one foot off the ball and extend it out straight.
  • Squeeze your glutes to thrust your hips off the ground. Brace your core so that your torso forms a straight line from head to knees.
  • Pause, then slowly lower your hips back to the ground.
  • Perform all reps, then repeat on the opposite leg.

9. Stability ball “I-Y-T” shoulder raise

Benefits: Fend off the effects of sitting at a computer all day by training your shoulder stabilizers and mid-back muscles with this deceptively difficult exercise.

  • Lie facedown on a stability ball with your stomach on a stability ball and your legs extended out straight behind you, digging your toes into the floor for support. Brace your core so that your body forms a straight line from head to heels.
  • Let your arms hang straight toward the floor, holding your hands in fists with your thumbs up. Squeeze your shoulder blades down and away from your ears. This is your starting position.
  • Leading with your thumbs, raise your arms straight up and close to your ears, keeping your shoulders pressed down. This is the “I” formation.
  • Lower your arms down toward the floor, then lift your arms up again, but this time diagonally, making a “Y” formation.
  • Lower your arms down toward the floor, then lift your arms straight out to your side to form a “T” formation with your palms facing the floor.
  • The cycle of “I-Y-T” is one set.
  • Make this move harder by holding a dumbbell in each hand.

10. Stability ball rollout

Benefits: This seemingly simple move will leave your abs shaking as it tests your core strength and stability.

  • Place your hands on a stability ball and kneel with your knees hip-width apart and your toes on the floor for stability.
  • Keeping your back flat and core braced, and without moving your knees, slowly roll forward so the ball comes to your forearms, until your body forms a straight line from your head to your knees.
  • Pause, then roll back to the starting position.

How do you use an exercise ball?

You can use an exercise ball in a number of ways, and since it doesn’t take up a lot of space it’s an excellent piece of home workout equipment. One common way to use a stability ball is as a substitute for a bench. If you’re accustomed to performing exercises with a stable bench, using an exercise ball will require firing up your core, hip, and shoulder stabilizers in a new way, Braun explains. Just keep in mind that because of this extra requirement for stability, you should start by using less weight than you would use with a bench.

Stability balls also allow movement in exercises like ab or hamstring rollouts. And you can use a stability ball as a sort of weight (a very large, light weight) and move it from one side of your body to the other, or pass it between your hands and feet.

What size stability ball should I get?

Before you put your gym’s stability balls to use or buy your own, make sure you have one that’s the right size. Like any piece of exercise equipment, it’s important that your stability ball fits your body. To find the perfect size, all you need to know is your height. If you’re 5’4″ or taller, opt for a ball that’s 65 cm in diameter. If you’re shorter, 55 cm is best. Use a tape measure to make sure that you have inflated your ball to the specified size — it should be firm to the touch, but still have some “give.”

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Remember how much fun it was to play with a ball when you were a child? A simple sphere was an endless source of inspiration and activity. And it still is. Using an exercise ball can be a challenging way to add variety and fun to your workout.

Exercise balls — also known as physioballs, Swiss balls, or fit balls — are large, vinyl balls you can use to strengthen and stretch your body, improving core stability and balance.

“I named the exercise ball the one piece of essential equipment for fitness,” says Jonathan Ross, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) 2006 personal trainer of the year. “Everyone should own or work with one,” says Ross, who owns Aion Fitness in Bowie, Maryland. “It’s incredibly versatile, it doesn’t take up much space, and it’s a very low investment.” You can’t get a better bang for your exercise-equipment buck, he says.

In addition to using the exercise ball with personal training clients, Ross teaches a ball class at his personal training studio.

“I never get bored with the exercise ball,” says Ross. “It keeps me from ever having to repeat the same workout over and over. “There’s no finish line when using the ball,” he says. “There’s always another level, always a way to make an exercise harder.”

Working out with an exercise ball takes traditional strength training to a new level, says Neal Pire, MA, FACSM, director of the Parisi Speed School, in Fair Lawn, N.J., a performance-based training school for athletes 6 and up.

“It can provide a great balance training tool,” says Pire.

Take a traditional bicep curl or a squat and do it on the exercise ball, says Pire, and it becomes a whole-body exercise, challenging your strength and more of your body’s muscles at one time.

“We have these things called proprioceptors,” says Pire, author of Plyometrics: Explosive Training for Athletes of All Ages, “and their job is to connect the body with the brain and tell the body where it is in time and space.”

The proprioceptors communicate everything from the position of a joint to the tension on a muscle at any given time, says Pire. They send messages to the spinal cord and brain to control the action or movement in some way. When performing exercise ball exercises, you are stimulating those proprioceptors and challenging the body’s stability and balance while you perform the exercise, he says.

You are also stimulating the muscles of the core — the deep pelvic, abdominal, and low back muscles — which are essential for good posture and balance and movement control, says Pire.

The ball stimulates the smaller, stability muscles, says Ross, in addition to the muscles being used in the exercise.

Try these 10 exercise ball exercises for a fun, whole-body workout:

Chances are, your gym has a few exercise balls in a corner that rarely anyone uses. Or you have one gathering dust in your basement. Maybe you aren’t sure what exercises to do with them, or maybe you just don’t want to stray away from your regular routine. But exercise balls can come in handy for many types of workouts, especially for abs.

“A stability or exercise ball is a great piece of equipment you can use to create a dynamic workout virtually anywhere,” says Lindsey Clayton, instructor at Barry’s Bootcamp and cofounder of the Brave Body Project. “Because of the ball’s soft, bouncy quality, when you exercise with it, it will challenge you to maintain proper alignment, stability, and strength when performing movements. It’s like taking your basic abs moves and kicking it up a notch.”

URBNFit Exercise Ball amazon.com $16.99

It makes sense that you’d want to up the intensity of your core workouts, since targeting all those muscles helps maintain your position on the bike and power you up hills.

That’s why Clayton came up with this six-exercise circuit that incorporates an exercise ball, so you can reap all of its unique benefits and switch up your regular routine to build a strong core.

How to use this list: The exercises below are all demonstrated by Clayton herself so you can learn the proper form. Perform as many reps as possible of each for 1 minute before moving on to the next. Rest for one minute between rounds. Compete 3 rounds.

Squat With Ball Overhead

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold exercise ball overhead. Send hips back and bend knees to lower down as far as possible while keeping your chest lifted and core engaged. Press through heels and continue to engage core and glutes to return back to the starting position. Complete as many reps as you can for 1 minute.

Mountain Climber

With the exercise ball in front of you, start in plank position with your elbows resting on top of the ball and core engaged so your body forms a straight line from head to heels. Draw right knee in toward chest, then return to starting position. Bring left knee in toward chest, then return to starting position. Continue to alternate legs as fast as possible for 1 minute.

Walking Plank

Start in a high plank position with shoulders over wrists, but instead of placing your feet on the floor, rest your shins on an exercise ball. Bend your left elbow to your left forearm to the floor. Lower your right forearm to the floor. Extend your right arm, then your left arm back to starting position. Continue to repeat, alternating which arm you start with each time, for 1 minute.

Plank to Pike

Start in a high plank position with shoulders over wrists, but instead of placing your feet on the floor, rest your shins on an exercise ball. Engage your core to lift hips straight up as you roll the ball forward to your toes. Return to starting position. Complete as many reps as you can for 1 minute.

Sit-Up

Start by sitting on the exercise ball with your feet flat on the floor. Lean back while walking yourself out along the ball until your shoulders, upper back, and lower back touch the ball. Place fingertips behind ears. Engage core and keep chin lifted as you perform as many sit-ups as you can for 1 minute.

Jackknife Ball Pass

Lie faceup on a mat, holding the exercise ball overhead, legs straight out in front of you. Engage core to lift head, neck, and shoulders off the mat as you bring the ball over your chest, draw your legs toward hands. Pass the ball from hands to feet at the top of the move. Lower legs slowly with the ball clasped between feet. Return the ball from feet to hands on the next rep. Complete as many reps as possible for 1 minute.

Images: Julia Hembree Smith

Danielle Zickl Associate Health & Fitness Editor Danielle specializes in interpreting and reporting the latest health research and also writes and edits in-depth service pieces about fitness, training, and nutrition.

You know that large, often brightly colored ball you see around the gym? That’s a stability or Swiss ball. You may also hear it referred to as a therapy ball, birth ball, balance ball or body ball. The stability ball is an extremely versatile tool that is often underutilized. Including the ball in your workouts can enhance core function and test your balance.

Today’s 25-minute express workout focuses on a full-body burn that supports your overall strength and balance. For maximum results, see if you can push through the entire circuit of exercises before taking a break. But remember form is important. Take special care when your balance is tested!

Stability Ball Workout

What you need: your bodyweight and the ball!

Time: 25 minutes

Recommended Intensity: 12 reps per exercise, 2 circuits | 60 seconds rest between circuits

1. Split Squat

  1. Stand upright with one foot on a ball behind you, with your arms by your side.
  2. Drop your body down toward the floor, bending at your hips and knees and leaning your torso slightly forward.
  3. Push off your front foot to return to start position. Complete all reps on one side before switching to the other.

2. Push-Up

  1. Support your body with your hands on the ball, elbows bent and chest nearly touching it, with your legs straight out, on your toes.
  2. Push up to a straight arm position, keeping your back flat and your hips in line with your shoulders throughout.
  3. Lower your body back to the start position and repeat.

*Modification: Do push-ups on a stable surface and work your way toward using the ball.

3. Ab Crunch

  1. Lie with the center of your back on the ball, hands at the sides of your head and your feet flat, knees bent.
  2. Lift your head and shoulders off the ball, contracting your abdominal muscles. Do not pull your head up with your hands.
  3. Lower your head and shoulders and repeat.

4. Overhead Deadlift

  1. Start in a squat position, holding the ball on the floor in front of you.
  2. Stand upright and lift your ball overhead, extending your arms fully.
  3. Lower the ball back to the floor, returning to the squat position.

5. Tricep Dip

  1. Place your hands on the ball behind you, with your arms straight, feet flat in front.
  2. Lower your body down, bending at the elbows and knees until your lower back touches the ball.
  3. Push up, returning to the starting position.

*Modification: Do tricep dips on a hard, stable surface and work your way toward using the ball.

6. Mountain Climber

  1. Place your hands on the ball, with your arms straight and legs straight out behind, resting on your toes.
  2. Bring one knee in toward the ball, keeping the rest of your body in the push-up position.
  3. Straighten this leg and repeat on the other side. Keep your back flat and your hips in line with your shoulders throughout.

7. Leg Raise

  1. Lie on your back with your legs straight and the ball between your feet, hands by your sides.
  2. Raise your legs straight up, slightly lifting your lower back off the floor.
  3. Lower your legs to tap the ball on the floor and repeat, keeping your upper body stable and your legs straight throughout the movement.

8. Roll Out

  1. Kneel on the floor with your forearms on the ball and your chest on your forearms.
  2. Push the ball forward, rolling it along your forearms as you extend your arms, keeping your back neutral/flat.
  3. Pull the ball back in to the start position.

9. Back Extension

  1. Lie face down with your chest on the ball, your arms crossed over your upper chest, and your legs straight out behind.
  2. Raise your chest up off the ball, coming to an upright position.
  3. Do not bounce up and down on the ball as you perform each rep.

10. Glute Bridge

  1. Lie on your back with your heels on the ball, legs straight and your hands at your sides.
  2. Raise your hips off the floor, making a straight like from your feet to your shoulders.
  3. Lower your body back to the floor and repeat.

Exercises with exercise ball

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