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Our Top 8 Stability Ball Exercises
Klutziness and a frugal streak keep me from using much in the way of workout equipment, but a stability ball is my one exception. Once I (literally) stopped rolling off it at the start of each new move, I felt how awesome exercise balls are for developing balance and stability while making it easier to target specific trouble spots. Check out these top moves from the FITNESS video library.
Push-Up on a Ball
Your arms and shoulders are the first to take the brunt of what this see-saw-like move dishes out, but your chest and core will feel it as well.
- Lie with your abdomen on an exercise ball and walk your hands forward on the floor until the ball rests under your thighs.
- Pull your navel in toward your spine, bending your elbows.
- Lower your upper body to the floor. Hold this position for three seconds, and then push up so your elbows are straight but not locked. Keep your head in line with your spine and your abs engaged.
- Start with 5 reps, working up to 15. Once you've mastered 15 reps, rest for one minute and then do a second set.
Squat with a Ball
Yes, this is an awesome thigh and butt toner. And indeed, I nearly knocked the TV off the wall in attempting this. (Find a larger wall space than you think you'll need before hiking up the ball to the wall.)
- Place an exercise ball between the wall and the curve of your lower back.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend your knees and lower 5 to 10 inches, keeping your shoulders level and your hips square. Hold this position for 3 seconds and then stand back up.
- Start with 5 reps and work up to 12. Rest for 30 seconds and do another set.
Overhead Squat with Ball
I am not the short-shorts type, but the burn I get through my quads and in the thickest part of my butt during this move makes me wonder if this is the season to reconsider.
- Grab an exercise ball and stand with your legs hip-width apart.
- Raise the ball over your head, your arms extended and close to your ears.
- Now squat down, keeping the weight in your heels and your arms extended.
- Hold the squat for one count, then come back up.
- Keep your arms lifted as you do 12 to 15 squats.
There's some serious juvenile novelty to this balance-testing move, which is scarier looking than it actually is to do. Your abs and lower back are the main targets here, but your core will benefit, too.
- Take an exercise ball and lie on top of it with your shins on the ball and your palms on the floor under your shoulders.
- Now use your abs and legs, rolling the ball to your middle, lifting your hips and keeping your head down between your arms. (Your body should be in an inverted "V" shape.)
- Hold here for 1 count and then roll back to the start.
- Do 10-12 reps. Be sure to pull your abs in and keep your head even with your spine as you move in and out of the "V".
They call this "Ball Pass" because "Super-Simple-But-So-Deep Crunch You Barely Realize You're Doing It" is a mouthful.
- Lie on your back holding an exercise ball and lift your feet so your shins are parallel to the floor.
- Lift your head, neck, and shoulders, and place the ball between your legs.
- Now lower your legs and reach your arms back.
- Come back up and grab the ball.
- Continue to pass the ball back and forth from your hands to your legs 10 to 12 times.
A low-impact way to tone your arms, chest, and shoulders, the weight press is a totally fine exercise for after work, when you can barely keep your head up but don't want to skip your workout.
- Lie on your back with your heels on the exercise ball.
- Hold lightweight dumbbells just above your chest with your palms facing forward.
- Press the weights straight up over your shoulders as you exhale.
- Hold the position for three counts, then lower the weights.
- In the beginning, do this move three times, gradually working your way up to 12 reps. (Once you've mastered 12, hold this position for one minute, then repeat the set.
Photo by Susan Pittard
Standing Side-Splits with a Ball
This yoga-inspired move gives obliques a serious stretch. You can certainly do this exercise without the ball, but it offers a bit of leverage and additional support. And you deserve a treat.
- Stand with feet together about a foot behind a stability ball.
- Bend from the hips, placing hands on ball.
- Keeping torso extended and abs and glutes tight, raise left leg behind you until it's parallel to the floor.
- Keep your foot flexed and your inner thigh facing the floor.
- Rotate your torso to the left and extend left arm overhead.
- Turn head to gaze at left hand.
- Hold for 3 counts.
- Lower and return to starting position.
- Repeat on opposite leg.
Photo by Chris Fanning
I fell and laughed and worked the hell out of my quads and calves trying this move. Way fun.
- Stand behind a stability ball on floor, legs slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes turned out.
- Squat all the way down, bending knees deeper than 90 degrees, and place hands on either side of ball.
- Press elbows into insides of thighs to deepen the stretch.
- Pushing off with your legs and glutes, jump as high as you can, pointing toes and straightening your legs while lifting ball overhead, arms extended.
- Repeat 5 to 8 times.
Photo by Chris Fanning
More Exercise Ball Know-How
Video: Toning Stability Ball Workout
Try these moves all together with Nike Master Trainer Traci Copeland for a total-body toning stability ball workout.