A stability ball can be everyone’s best friend! It’s more than just a brightly-colored rubber ball to kick around when you’re bored at home, but it’s one heck of an awesome workout tool.
It’s called a “stability ball” because it works on the muscles that keep you stable. When you sit, stand, or lie on the ball, it tends to wobble beneath you. Your core muscles (back, abs, and obliques) have to work double-time to keep you in the proper position. The result: a better workout for those stabilizer muscles!
If you want to make the most of your stability ball, try the 7 workouts listed below. They’ll hit your body from every angle, using the stability ball to engage those secondary muscles. They’re a killer option to get fit with a new stability ball workout every day!
Working out your chest on the stability ball is a great way to hit your shoulders, triceps, and core at the same time! A chest stability ball workout engages all your upper body “pushing” muscles nicely. Check out these awesome chest exercises to try with a stability ball:
Stability Ball Push-Ups. This is just like a basic push-up, but with one simple change: your feet are resting on the stability ball rather than the floor. This not only makes the back half of your “platform” unsteady, but it also changes the angle of the push-up to more of an incline. This hits the upper chest muscles in a way regular push-ups never could.
To perform the exercise:
- Get in the proper push-up position, with your feet on the stability ball.
- Bend your elbows, but keep your head straight as you lower your body to the floor.
- Stop when your nose is about to touch the ground.
- Push back up to your starting position.
Do 2-3 sets of 10-20 reps, and you’ll feel the burn in your chest muscles!
Stability Ball Diamond Push-Ups. Diamond Push-Ups are ideal for the inner pectorals, the chest muscle on top of your sternum. While regular Bench Presses and Push-Ups work on the muscle as a whole, this movement focuses more on the inner part of the muscle, as well as placing extra emphasis on the triceps. A GREAT one for a stronger upper body!
To perform the exercise:
- Place your hands in diamond position (thumb and forefinger touching) on the stability ball, with your feet on a bench or the floor.
- Control your motion as you slowly drop into the push-up.
- Lower until your chest nearly touches the back of your hand.
- Push back up to your starting position.
As you perform a few sets of 10-20 reps, you’ll find that fighting to keep your “platform” stable is an AMAZING way to build core, chest, shoulder, and arm strength.
Stability Ball Switch Push-Ups. If you’ve got two stability balls, you can do one heck of a killer core and chest workout! Be warned: move slowly through the movement, and keep your motions controlled.
To perform the exercise:
- Start in a wide push-up position, with your hands on the floor and your feet on the stability ball. Place one foot on top of the other.
- Perform a wide push-up, then move your right-hand closer to your left for a regular push-up.
- Switch your foot position as you go back into a wide push-up.
- Move your left-hand closer to your right hand for a regular push-up, then return to your original position.
By the end of just 5-10 reps (yes, this four-push-up movement is just a single rep), you’ll have one heck of a workout!
The stability ball makes for an awesome leg workout, and you can use the exercise ball for so many lower body movement variations:
Stability Ball Split Squats. Stand with your back leg on the stability ball instead of a bench, and feel the burn in your quads and glutes as you perform these single-leg squats.
Stability Ball Hamstring Curl. Lie on your back, with your heels and calves on the stability ball. Engage your core to lift your butt off the floor until your body is in a straight line. Bend your knees and use your hamstrings to pull the ball toward your butt.
Overhead Squat. Hold the exercise ball straight over your head as you perform squats. This will work wonders for your lower back as well as your glutes and legs, and it will correct your squat posture.
Wall Squats. Place the stability ball behind your back, and use your legs to push it against the wall and hold yourself in a Wall Squat position.
Wall Squat Stability Ball Holds. Time to kick things up a few notches! Get in Wall Squat position (back against the wall, heels 12-18 inches from the wall). As you lower into the Wall Squat, place the exercise ball between your knees and use those hip muscles to squeeze and hold the ball.
An AMAZING workout for your lower body, using only the stability ball!
The stability ball is, without a doubt, one of the most effective core workout tools in the gym. The instability of the rubber ball keeps your core muscles engaged at all times. Here are a few of the best core movements you can do:
Plank. Place your feet on a weight bench and your hands on the stability ball. Keep your back straight and your hips tight, and hold the position for 30-60 seconds.
Knee Tucks. Get in the plank position, but with your hands on the floor and your feet on the stability ball this time. Hold your upper body immobile as you pull your knees up to your chest, then extend your feet to return to plank position.
Hand Off. Lie on your back, with your arms and legs extended. Hold the stability ball in your hands as you lift your arms and legs (no bending your knees or elbows) straight up into the air. Pass the stability ball to your feet, and use your hips and core to hold the ball as you lower your legs and arms. When you lift again, pass the ball back to your hands, and repeat.
These are just a few of the many core-specific movements that will help you to shred your back, abs, and obliques.
The good news is that ANY exercise on the stability ball will target your core. The more you work with it, the more you’ll strengthen those stabilizer muscles.
Your shoulders are one of the most important muscle groups in your body. The delts and traps engage any time you pull or push, so it’s vital you pay extra attention to these muscles. Working with the stability ball will double down on the effectiveness of your shoulder workouts—hitting your core at the same time.
Here are some of the best shoulder workouts to try:
Pike Push-Ups. The angle of Pike Push-ups places all the strain on your shoulders and triceps, but adding the stability ball will recruit those core muscles. Place your hands on the floor and your feet on the stability ball. Instead of a flat body, bend at the waist until you are inverted (head down, butt in the air). Now perform the Push-ups, keeping the ball as stable as possible.
Around the World. Stability balls don’t weigh much, but by the time you finish this workout, your shoulders will be on fire! Hold the stability ball in both hands, and raise it high overhead. Slowly, with controlled movements and keeping your arms extended, move the ball in a clockwise circle around your body. Once it returns to its original position overhead, repeat in the other direction.
Overhead Press on Ball. Overhead Dumbbell Presses are one of the best shoulder movements, and adding the stability ball hits your core hard. Sit on the stability ball, and use your core to keep your upper body stable as you perform overhead presses.
These shoulder workouts will bring the burn and help to strengthen these important upper body muscles!
Who knew you could great a great cardio workout with a stability ball? Most of us use the ball as a way to engage the abs, but it can also be ideal for getting your heart pumping!
Basic Bounce. Sit on the stability ball and bounce up and down in place for 3-5 minutes (hippety-hop style). Lift your legs from the floor with every bounce, but use your core to control your movements. The goal is to bounce UPWARD as high as you can without losing control.
Stability Ball Jacks. Sit on the stability ball with your feet close together. Jump your feet wide, then together, then wide again. Stand, reach to the right, and sit. Repeat the sequence, reaching to the left this time. Do this for 2-3 minutes for an awesome cardio and lower body workout.
Standing Side Crunch. Hold the stability ball overhead, with your elbows slightly bent. Bring your right knee up, and lower the ball to touch your right elbow to your knee. Raise your arms as you lower your knee, and repeat on the left side. Move as fast as you can, and perform up to 2 minutes of the exercise.
Stability Ball Throws. Hold the stability ball in two hands, standing roughly 5-6 feet from the wall. Throw the ball at the wall hard enough to make it bounce back, catch the ball, and throw again. Spend 3-5 minutes are throwing.
Just a few simple movements, but they can help to give you a great cardio training session!
Did you know you can use the stability ball for a stretching and flexibility workout as well as a core-building one? Try these simple movements to limber up those joints:
Chest Stretch. Sit on the ball, with your feet flat on the floor. Walk your feet forward until your upper back (shoulder blades) is on the ball. Open your arms wide and feel the stretch in your chest. Hold for 30 seconds.
Spine Stretch. Sit on the ball, with your feet flat on the floor. Walk your feet forward until your lower back is on the ball. Lean back until you are touching the floor with your hands. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
Hip Circles. Sit on the stability ball with your feet spread wide. Loosen up your hips and move them in wide circles. Move counterclockwise for 15 circles, then clockwise for another 15 circles.
You’ll love how loose and flexible you feel after this workout!
Yep, bringing in a stability ball can help to make your Yoga movements even more effective! Here are a few variations to try:
Upward Dog. Lie face-down on the ball, with the ball roughly at level with your stomach. Place your hands on the ball and push your upper body upward, looking up at the ceiling as you do so.
Seated Stork Pose. Sit on the stability ball, and cross your right foot over your left knee. Raise your folded hands above your head, and push your hips forward to feel that stretch.
Child’s Pose. For an even better lower back stretch, get into Child’s Pose but with your hands on a stability ball instead of the floor. Roll the ball gently around to feel the stretch in your shoulders, back, and hips.
The stability ball won’t work for ALL Yoga movements, but it can help to make a select few even better as both a stretching and strengthening workout.