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Hit the Spot: Toning Exercises with a Ball

Tone up from head to toe with these moves using an exercise ball to target your abs, arms, butt, and thighs and improve your balance.

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James Farrell
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About This Workout

It's time to target the trouble zones you may have been trying to camouflage. To get the job done, try using a squishy ball, like the Spri Sponge Ball ($10, spri.com) or a slightly deflated soccer ball. "You're more aware of your form when balancing a ball under your foot or behind your leg," says Lauren Boggi, the founder of Lithe Method, a group of cheerleading-inspired studios in New York City and Philadelphia. Her six firmer-uppers on the next page target your arms, abs, butt, and thighs, so you get strong and lean all over. Now that's something to cheer about!

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Star Reach

Targets abs, obliques, butt, and legs

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, ball in left hand and arms out to sides at shoulder height. Lift right leg out to right side as high as you can; point toes.
  • Keeping arms in a straight line, bend upper body to left side, touching ball to floor. Keep right leg lifted throughout.
  • Return to start position. Do 30 reps; switch sides and repeat.

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Peeled Push-Ups

Targets shoulders, chest, triceps, and abs

  • Start on floor in a modified push-up position, hands under shoulders, knees on floor, and feet crossed. Place ball under palm of right hand.
  • Bend left elbow to lower body a few inches from floor. Keep right arm straight while gently pushing through right palm, right arm sliding over ball until ball reaches elbow. Keep back straight and hips facing floor.
  • Press back up with left hand and roll ball back down right arm to return to start position.
  • Do 30 reps; switch sides and repeat.
  • MAKE IT EASIER: Lower body only halfway down or use a folded towel instead of a ball.

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Spider Triceps

Targets shoulders, triceps, abs, obliques, and inner thighs

  • Lie on mat on right side, right elbow directly under shoulder and forearm to right; bend left knee with foot flat. Place ball between inner thighs and raise right leg off floor, pointing toes; extend left arm upward.
  • Pressing into right palm and squeezing ball between legs, straighten right arm, pushing body up while lowering right foot.
  • Reverse back to start. Do 30 reps; switch sides and repeat.

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Heel-Dig Squat

Targets abs, butt, and quads

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart and place right heel on top of ball, keeping leg straight and arms by sides.
  • Bend left knee and roll ball forward with right heel, keeping right leg straight and hinging body forward from hips with chest lifted; at the same time, extend arms in front of you, then raise arms directly overhead.
  • Straighten left leg, rolling ball back with right heel; lower arms to start position.
  • Do 30 reps; switch sides and repeat.
  • MAKE IT EASIER: Use right foot to help push up.

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Toe Touch

Targets shoulders, back, abs, and hips

  • Sit on floor with knees bent, feet flat, holding ball with both hands in front of shins. Draw knees into chest, leaning torso slightly back, and press ball into shins, lifting feet and pointing toes.
  • Engaging abs, extend legs into a V position as you grip ball with right hand and tap toes with ball.
  • Return to knees tucked into chest and ball in front of shins.
  • Do 30 reps; switch sides and repeat.

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Hover Lunge

Targets abs, hips, butt, quads, and hamstrings

  • Stand facing a sturdy chair, holding top of chair with arms straight. Place ball behind right knee, then lift right knee to hip height, pressing ball between calf and thigh.
  • Gripping top of chair tightly, swing right leg behind you (squeezing ball between calf and thigh) and bend left knee to lower body to floor, keeping back flat and arms straight.
  • Stand up on left leg, returning to knee-lift position.
  • Do 30 reps; switch sides and repeat.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, April 2013.

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