If you’ve ever played around with a stability ball, chances are you stuck with abs moves like crunches. Don’t sell this fun multitasking tool short, though! With the right stability ball exercises, you can work just about every major muscle in your body.
Yes, working out with a stability ball is great for your core, but it can also help you improve all-over flexibility, balance, and coordination. It even does your posture a solid. Though it might not build pure strength like dumbbells and kettlebells, that bouncy ball can certainly help you work on your muscle endurance, or how long they can sustain an effort before calling it quits.
Better yet, string together a bunch of challenging stability ball exercises into a circuit-style workout and you’ll get that heart rate up, boost your cardio fitness, and burn more calories, too.
If you need a break from the weights, don’t have access to much equipment, or just want to try something new, you can incorporate stability ball workouts into your fitness routine up to three times per week.
The stability ball moves below are a great place to start. Put them together to create your own total-body workouts and embrace the burn.
Time: 15–30 minutes
Equipment: stability ball, workout mat
Good for: total-body
Instructions: Select either four or eight exercises (either one or two core, upper-body, lower-body, and back) from the list below. Perform as many reps of each exercise as possible in one minute. Then continue to the next move, resting only as needed. Once you’ve completed all four or eight movements, rest for one minute, then repeat twice more for a total of three rounds.
Teaser Toe Taps
How to: Start sitting on mat with stability ball between hands raised to eye level and legs straight in front of you on the floor, with feet pointed. Lift right leg off mat to touch shoelaces to bottom of ball. Lower back down and repeat with left leg. That’s one rep.
Pike and Twist
How to: Start in plank position with right foot on stability ball (toes pointed) and left leg bent with left foot pressed against inside of right calf and left knee pointing toward mat. Lift hips into air to create upside down “V” shape with body, and then rotate torso to the right to bring left knee across body toward right hip. Draw left knee back under left hip and return to starting position. That’s one rep.
Bear Plank Tuck
How to: Start in a plank position with shins and feet on stability ball, toes pointed. Engage core and pull knees forward under hips, keeping hips level. Return to plank position. That’s one rep.
How to: Start kneeling on mat with seat on heels and stability ball between hands. Lift arms up overhead, biceps by ears. Without moving lower body, bend at waist to lower stability ball toward left side of mat. Return to center and repeat on the right side. That’s one rep.
Stir the Pot
How to: Start in kneeling plank position with forearms on stability ball so body forms a straight line from head to knees. Keeping the rest of body still, engage abs and move forearms in a counter-clockwise circle, allowing stability ball to move with them. That’s one rep.
Kneeling Triceps Extension
How to: Start kneeling with seat on heels, stability ball in lap, and arms extended so that elbows and forearms rest on ball. Keeping elbows on ball, bend arms to 90 degrees. This is your start position. Extend arms straight and press forearms into ball, squeezing triceps. Return to start position. That’s one rep.
Single-Arm Sphinx Press
How to: Start in kneeling plank position with right hand and forearm on stability ball and left hand on mat or floor slightly beyond left shoulder. Keeping hips level and ball still, lower down onto left forearm. Push back up to starting position. That’s one rep.
How to: Start kneeling on mat with seat on heels. With slightly bent arms, hug stability ball in front of chest with hands and forearms.Squeeze ball, hold for three seconds, then release. That’s one rep.
How to: Start kneeling on mat with seat on heels. Hold ball straight out in front of chest. Bend elbows to 90 degrees, squeeze biceps, and hold for three seconds. Then, return to start position. That’s one rep.
How to: Start kneeling on mat with seat on heels, holding stability ball straight out in front of chest. Drawing a circle with shoulders by pulling them forward, up toward ears, back and down, and back to starting position. That’s one rep.
How to: Start lying on stomach with forehead resting on forearms, legs extended and stability ball between ankles and feet. Without moving upper body, squeeze feet together and engage hamstrings to lift feet and ball a few inches up off floor. Return to start. That’s one rep.
How to: Start lying on back with arms by sides, knees bent to 90 degrees, and feet on stability ball. Push feet into ball and upper back and arms into mat to lift hips off floor until body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Return to start. That’s one rep.
How to: Start lying on back with arms at sides, legs extended, and feet resting on stability ball. Press into upper back and arms to lift hips off mat. Then, engage hamstrings and bend knees to pull heels toward seat. Re-extend legs. That’s one rep.
How to: Start with hands behind head (elbows wide), upper back pressed into stability ball, legs bent, and feet flat on floor so hips hover above mat. Lean back into stability ball, press through feet, and squeeze glutes to lift hips toward ceiling until thighs are parallel to mat. Return to start. That’s one rep.
How to: Start lying on stomach with legs extended, arms straight (biceps by ears), and stability ball between hands. Hover head and shoulders up off floor. Without moving lower body, lift chest off ground so that arms and stability ball also raise. Then, return to start. That’s one rep.
Back Extension and Twist
How to: Start lying with hands behind head (elbows wide), stomach on stability ball, and legs extended with feet planted on floor. Keeping neck neutral, lift head, shoulders, and chest up and rotate torso to left side so that right elbow draws toward mat. Reverse the movement to return to start. Repeat on the other side. That’s one rep.
How to: Start lying on stomach with arms and legs extended and stability ball between feet. Simultaneously lift arms, shoulders, and head, as well as feet to hover a few inches up off mat. This is your starting position. Raise chest up and bend right arm to pull elbow back toward rib cage. Return to start and repeat on the left side. That’s one rep.
Opposite Limb Extension
How to: Start in plank position with hips resting on stability ball. Keeping hips and shoulders stable, lift right leg and left arm into air. Return to start, then repeat with opposite limbs. That’s one rep.
Rolling Lat Pull
How to: Start kneeling at back of mat with seat on heels and arms extended overhead so hands rest on stability ball with palms facing each other. Engage lats and pull ball towards body with straight arms, simultaneously lifting hips to come into a high-kneeing position. Reverse movement to return to start. That’s one rep.
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