Here are 9 great stability ball exercises you can do at any age. Yes, really – any age. And you’ll love these!
The great thing about exercise balls is that you can incorporate them into your workout and that’s a great way to improve your balance. If you have ever tried exercising with an exercise ball, you know that they can be both fun and challenging! In fact, using a stability ball in your weekly workout is so good and so popular that they have become known by quite a few names – swiss ball, stability ball, fitness ball, balance ball, yoga ball, physio ball, pilates ball and exercise ball all refer to the same exercise equipment – what we call the stability ball.
The Medicine ball and Bosu balls are distant cousins and those exercises are a bit different so we’ll cover them in a future article, but you’re here for the Exercise Ball exercises, so let’s get to it.
You can challenge your balance and core muscles (abs) with stability-ball moves but be careful to pay attention to the instructions. Proper alignment is crucial to staying injury free, so be sure to maintain good form – keeping your arm and leg placement as instructed.
Note: Do not try these exercises before talking with your doctor to see if they are right for you. Being injury free is crucial and there are many factors that can prevent you from doing specific exercises. Speak with you doctor to see if these are right for you.
Want to try Sitting on an Exercise Ball while you Work?
Your posture can suffer with a normal chair at the office, but are you ready for a Stability Ball as your office chair?
Stability balls force you to balance and you’ll not only automatically maintain better posture, which can alleviate back strain, but you’ll burn a few calories too. But not so fast, research shows that while a chair may give you discomfort, a stability ball can also cause lower back stress. So sitting on an exercise ball should be done in small durations and not to replace your normal desk chair for the entire work day. Standing up and moving every hour may still be your best option for staying fit at the office (along with a few office exercises during the day). Be sure to buy the correct size ball for sitting vs. exercising. Tap >> HERE << to see UrbnFit on Amazon for size charts (or above) to choose the correct size for you.
How to Use an Exercise Ball Chair
- Sit centered on the ball with your feet flat on the floor and your feet, knees, and hips are at a 90° angle. Your hips should stay slightly higher than your pelvis to maintain posture.
- Sit up straight and tighten your abdominals.
- Widen your feet – this will help you feel more stable.
Try using the ball for 20 – 30 minute intervals at first and work your way up to longer periods but switch to your regular desk chair when you begin to feel uncomfortable.
Consider adding a stability base or chair to keep the ball steady. The base will keep you stable but for a more ergonomic alternative, a balance ball chair combines a back and arm rests. For less than $100 you can get the exercise ball and chair.
- Straighten your back until you are sitting up straight – don’t slouch.
- Sit for short periods of time. Sitting on an exercise ball requires core muscles strength which, as any exercise, needs to be built over time.
- Keep the ball fully inflated, an under-inflated ball is unstable and can increase the risk of injury.
Before you begin using an exercise ball in your workout routine:
Be sure you have the right size ball for your height.
Choose if you want to measure your progress by duration or the number of ‘reps’ (repetitions) per set. Note: some exercises, such as the Plank, are measured in seconds.
» Reps: start with 8 reps for 2 sets and build up to 12 reps for 3 sets.
» Time: time your first set and each week add another minute. Target different muscles by choosing exercises that work your core, arms and legs. You may need to start with an exercise and add more with continued workouts. You’ll want to work your major muscles – core, arms and legs.
Choosing the correct size is important. Stability balls come in different sizes and are not sized in inches. If you have a ball available, sit on the ball with both feet flat on the floor. Your knees should be bent at 90-degree angles. If you don’t have a ball available, you can use one that is appropriate for your height:
- Under 5’ = 45cm ball = 17.7 inches
- 5’ 1” – 5’ 7” = 55cm ball = 21.6 inches
- 5’ 8” – 6’ 2” = 65cm ball = 25.5 inches
- 6’ 3” and above = 75cm ball = 29.5 inches
You can read more about balance here »»»» Balance Information before you get started…
Tap an exercise to see the printable instructions. You can print them for reference and record your progress on the back of each page…
Stability Ball Exercise - Plank
- Facing down, place your forearms on the stability ball and extend your legs directly behind you.
- Use your abs, back and glutes to keep your body in a straight line from head to heels. You’ll know you are in a straight line if your glutes (buttocks) aren’t too far in the air or sagging.
- Be sure your abs are tight and hold for 20-60 seconds.
What it does: Strengthens your core (abs) – improves your posture and waistline.
Stability Ball Exercise - Side Plank
- Place the stability ball on the upper third of your exercise mat. For support and stability, the ball and your feet should be on the mat.
- With your legs straight, bending at the elbow, place your left arm on the top of the stability ball with your right hand lightly on the ball for support. Your forearm should be directly below your shoulder.
- Brace your core by contracting your abs forcefully as if you were about to be punched in the gut.
- Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders.
- Breathe deeply for the duration of the exercise.
- Turn around so that you’re lying on your right side and repeat.
Note: Squeeze your glutes while holding the plank so your hips carry the majority of the weight.
What it does: Strengthens your obliques, abs and back.
Stability Ball Exercise - Wall Sit
- Place a Stability ball against the wall and stand in front of it so that the ball is between the arch of your back and the wall.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart, about 2 feet in front of you.
- Brace your core and keep your chest up.
- Bend your knees and stick your hips out and your back straight, lowering yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Keep your back in contact with the ball and allow the ball to guide you but do not put all of your weight against it.
- Don’t let your knees extend over your toes.
- Don’t slouch or round your back.
- Don’t go lower than 90º angle.
- Don’t turn your feet in or out, point your toes forward.
What it does: Strengthens your Quads (front of your thighs), glutes, calves and hamstrings.
Stability Ball Exercise - V-Pass
- Lie face up on a mat with your arms extended out and both hands holding a stability ball.
- Extend your legs, keeping them off the floor.
- In one motion, brace your core and lift your arms and legs off the ground at the same time and place the ball between your feet.
- Squeeze the ball with your legs and lower your arms and legs back to the floor (the ball should be between your feet).
- Repeat, passing the ball back to your hands.
What it does: Strengthens your core (abs) while stretching your hamstrings and back.
Stability Ball Exercise - Rollout
- Kneel in front of a Stability ball and place your forearms and fists on the ball.
- Keep your core braced, and slowly roll the ball forward, straightening your arms and extending your body as far as you can without allowing your body to fall to the floor.
- Use your abs to pull the ball back to your knees.
What it does: Strengthens your core (abs) while improving strength and mobility in your shoulders and triceps.
Stability Ball Exercise - Back Extension
- Kneel on the floor, facing away from a wall, with your feet flat against it.
- Position a stability ball in front of you, just touching your thighs.
- Lean forward on the ball, straighten your legs and press your feet against the wall.
- Placing your hands on your head, squeeze your glutes and lift your torso up.
- Hold for a few seconds and slowly lower your upper body back to your starting position.
What it does: Strengthens your lower back, glutes and hamstrings.
Stability Ball Exercise - Crunch
- With feet firmly on the ground, shoulder width apart, lie on the stability ball so your lower back is on the ball.
- Cross your arms across your chest.
- Lean back on the ball and look towards the ceiling.
- Keeping feet firmly planted, raise your torso up to a 45º angel.
Note: Do not overextend your back while performing crunches. Keep feet shoulder width apart to maintain balance and stability.
What it does: Strengthens your core (abs) muscles responsible for the six-pack look.
Stability Ball Lying Hamstring Curl
- Lie face up on the floor with your arms extended next to your side (for stability), with your heels resting on the ball.
- Tighten your glutes and abs and lift your hips off the floor.
- Keeping your hips still, inhale and slowly raise your knees so your feet are resting flat on top of the ball.
- Pause for a few seconds in this position, then exhale while straightening your legs.
Note: To get the maximum benefit for your glutes, keep your hips up while doing this exercise.
What it does: Strengthens hamstrings and glutes.
Stability Ball Exercise - Cross-Body Mountain Climber
- Assume a push-up position with your hands on a Stability ball and arms slightly bent at the elbow.
- Raise your left knee toward your left elbow, hold for a second, then lower back to the floor.
- Alternate legs.
What it does: Strengthens your triceps, abs and hips.
↑ Back to Exercise List ↑
If you are just starting, pick one or two exercises, print them out and record your progress on the back of the page. Be careful not to strain yourself – exercises are meant to be done slowly and without pain. If you experience pain, stop doing the exercise and if necessary, see a doctor. It’s normal to have some slight soreness after exercising muscles that haven’t been ‘woken up’ in a while, but avoid overdoing it. Three times a week is a great start and after a month or so, switch to other exercises.
And if you are at an intermediate level and looking for different exercises, we hope these are helpful – let us know if there’s any other exercises you’d like to see. We like to try new exercises and are always open to suggestions!
Stability balls can be fun – incorporate them into your normal exercise routines and you’ll be happy you did! Have fun and thank you for stopping by – we hope you have the best of health and visit us often!
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