We all live pretty stable lives — physically. The pavement you walk on is flat and the chair you sit in for hours is even. Even while you work out, the treadmill is bump-free and the bench is solid. Running on a bumpy treadmill or performing a push-up on an unbalanced surface is infinitely more challenging, though. Cue, the stability ball.
If you're only using a stability ball for crunches or as a chair to sit on at your desk, you're missing out. You can transform traditional exercises into multi-muscle movers that will help you get more done in less time.
Benefits of Stability Ball Exercises
The biggest benefit of the stability ball is challenging your balance! The major joints of the body, like the knees and hips, enable your body's mobility (ability to move freely) or stability (ability to maintain posture), according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).
But our aforementioned stable world can compromise our joints' ability to maintain mobility and stability. Tools like the stability ball or BOSU ball help challenge the muscles that keep the joints stable, according to the NASM. Other benefits of using a stability ball include:
How to Do This Stability Ball Workout
After completing the warm-up, do each exercise for the recommended number of reps, back-to-back with little or no rest in between. Perform the full circuit one to three times total on up to four non-consecutive days a week for best results. You'll need a set of dumbbells (five to 25 pounds, depending on your fitness level) and a stability ball.
1. Stability Ball Warm-Up
- Begin holding the ball, standing with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
- Lower into a small squat, tapping the ball lightly to the floor.
- Stand up, drawing your abs in tightly and keeping your arms extended, raise the ball overhead.
2. Atlas Squat
- Start by standing with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, holding the ball overhead.
- Lower into a deep squat, sitting back into your hips and keeping your knees behind your toes while keeping the ball overhead. Avoid straining your neck by keeping your chin pointing toward your chest.
- Press through your heels to return to the starting position.
3. Stability Ball Plank
- Begin with your elbows on top of the ball lined up under your shoulders, hands clasped together, feet hip-width apart.
- Brace your abs and keep your chest and stomach off the ball completely.
- Write your full name — first, middle and last — with your elbows on top of the ball.
4. Y-and-I Extension
- Begin balancing on the ball, with the ball positioned between your chest and pelvis. Your legs should be extended straight back, hip-width apart.
- Reach your arms into a Y position in front of you, thumbs pointed up.
- Sweep your arms by your sides into an I position, squeezing your shoulder blades back and together with your thumbs still facing up.
5. Reaching Rear Lunge
- Stand about one foot in front of the ball on your right foot with the top of your left foot pressed into the ball, holding dumbbells by your sides.
- Hinge forward from your hips, bending your right knee as your left leg extends back, moving the ball away from your body.
- Reach toward the floor with the dumbbells on either side of your right leg.
- Go as low as possible without rounding your back.
- Press through your right heel to return to the starting position.
Reps: 15 on each side
6. Marching Press
- Sit on the ball with feet hip-width apart, arms bent by your sides, holding dumbbells at your shoulders, palms facing front.
- Press the weights overhead. Your arms should be slightly in front of your body at the top of the movement, never behind your head.
- Lift one foot off the floor, keeping your shoulders stacked over your hips and your trunk level.
- Return to the starting position.
Reps: 20, alternating legs each time
7. Stability Ball Pike
- Begin in a high plank with the ball under your feet, shoulders lined up over your hands.
- Lift your hips and pull the ball in closer to your chest.
- Try to raise your hips over your shoulders, if possible, and press your feet down into the ball to make it easier to slide your legs in during the pike.
- Return to start.
Too tough? Start with a small range of motion, lifting your hips only slightly until you feel ready for more.
Reps: up to 10
8. Balancing Kickback
- Stand about one foot in front of the ball on your right foot with the top of your left foot pressed into the ball.
- Hinge your torso forward from the hips, bending your right knee about 45 degrees as your left leg extends straight back behind your hip, holding your dumbbells by your shoulders with your elbows bent.
- Extend your arms straight back behind you. Bend your elbows back in. That's one rep.
9. Stability Ball Push-Up
- Begin in a plank with your hands pressed into the ball (think of slightly hugging the ball).
- Do a push-up by lowering your chest to the ball, bending your elbows out to the side without letting your hips sag.
- Try to tap your chest on the ball if possible, but don't rest your body on the ball.
- Return to the starting position.
Reps: up to 15
10. Side Lunge Row
- Stand with your right leg extended to the side and your right foot pressed on top of the ball, holding a dumbbell in your left hand.
- Lower into a single-leg squat, bending your left knee and pushing your hips back. Hinge slightly forward from your hips, reaching your right arm toward the floor.
- Row the dumbbell by bending your right elbow in by your side, pulling the dumbbell to the side of your torso as your right knee bends, curling the ball toward your body.
- Extend your leg and arm back out.
Reps: 15 on each side
11. Stability Ball Hamstring Curl
- Begin in a bridge on the ball: Lie face up with your knees bent and hip-width apart, feet flexed, heels pressed into top of the ball.
- Engage your abs as you press through your heels to lift your hips to form a straight line with your shoulders. Keep your arms extended by your sides and pressed into the floor.
- Extend your legs out straight, keeping your hips off the floor. Use your abs and arms to help stabilize your torso. Return to start.
12. Knee Tuck
- Begin in a plank with the ball under your feet, toes pointed, abs tight and shoulders over your hands.
- Draw your abs in deeper and bend your knees into your chest, pulling the ball in and keeping your shoulders lined up over your hands.
- Return to the start.
13. Stability Ball Stretching
After you've finished the final round of the circuit, wrap up your workout with some feel-good stretching.
- Stand with your feet wide and your arms extended out to the sides, with the ball in front of you on the floor.
- Bend your knees and hinge forward, placing the back of your right hand on top of the ball and keeping your arms extended, turn your chest toward the ceiling.
- Roll onto your right shoulder, looking up to your left hand.
Reps: Hold 30 to 60 seconds and repeat on the other side