Trying to find the best way to exercise can be difficult. You could hit the gym, but with Covid-19 still lingering and the unavoidable reality of having to share the space with strangers, working out at home is the safer and quieter option.
This is where the exercise ball comes in. This air-filled, rubbery ball provides stability while strengthening your body, particularly your core.
Here are a few simple exercises you can do with an exercise ball to work on your balance, core strength, and overall wellness.
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1. Alternating Deadbug
Named after the way this exercise position makes you look like a flipped over bug, the deadbug is great for your core and muscle control. Start on your back with your legs bent 90 degrees. Place the ball on top of you and support it with your hands and knees.
Slowly remove one hand and its opposite knee completely away from the ball. Bring them back and repeat with the alternating limps. Repeat as many times as you’d like. Just make sure your core is contracted the entire time.
This workout is a killer for your core, but it also challenges your stability. If you’re looking to improve your balance, you need to try the V-pass.
Start on your back with your ball in between your legs and your arms raised up. Move the ball to the center of your body and pick it up with your hands. Once you’re holding it, release your legs from the ball and bring your legs and arms back so your whole body is parallel to the ground. Afterward, you can bring your legs and arms back to the center and put the ball in between your legs, continuing the pass.
This exercise is tough, so don’t rush the passes. Sometimes the slower you move, the tougher the burn.
3. Wall Squat
Everybody loves a classic squat, so why not jazz it up a bit by incorporating an exercise ball?
In this version of a wall squat, you are rolling the ball up and down the wall with your back as you sit into a squat. This move requires patience and lots of balance. It’s great for your legs and glutes.
Start standing with a ball between a clear wall and your back. You should be applying light pressure to the ball, and your feet should be hip-distance apart. Slowly sink into a squat, rolling the ball down with you, then stand back up.
Repeat 8 to 10 times, rest, then keep going!
4. Toe Taps
Holding onto a large exercise ball while performing a seemingly simple exercise will challenge your sense of balance. Exercise ball toe taps are easy enough — provided you’re able to keep yourself from falling to one side.
Start sitting up and slightly back, with your legs straight out in front of you. Hold the exercise ball straight out in front of you and slowly bring one foot up to gently tap the bottom of the ball. Repeat the move with the alternating foot.
Your core should be engaged and your back should be straight the entire time. Don’t rush moving your legs up and down. Use slow and controlled movements. This will give you the best burn.
5. Plank Tuck
Are you looking for a real challenge? Try a plank tuck on an exercise ball! Just be ready to put your balance to the test.
Start in a high plank with your feet and calves resting on top of the exercise ball. The starting position alone may be enough for some individuals, so feel free to hold this position and stop there.
If you’re up for the challenge, slowly tuck your knees and bring them into your core, rolling the ball forward as you do so. After a quick ab squeeze, push your legs (and the ball) back, bringing yourself into your starting position.
Repeat this movement, and you may be surprised how few (or many) times you’ll be able to get through it!
6. Bicep Curl
Most people are familiar with dumbbell bicep curls, but did you know you can also use an exercise ball?
The key to getting the most out of an exercise ball dumbbell curl is to squeeze well at the top of the movement when your arms are bent. Start standing, sitting, or on your knees (whatever’s comfortable), and hold the ball in your hands. Extend your arms in front of you.
Bring the ball up to your face while bending your arms and curling your biceps. At the top, squeeze the ball and your arms for a couple of seconds, then release and return to your starting position.
This is a great exercise to do when you aren’t quite ready to use heavy weights but still want to add some resistance to your workouts. Make sure your spine is straight and your abs are activated during the exercise.
7. Glute Bridge
Glute bridges help strengthen your hamstrings and glutes. They are relatively simple, so why not challenge yourself a bit by adding in an exercise ball?
Start by laying on your back with your feet on the exercise ball in front of you. The ball should be close enough to allow you to keep your legs bent. Slowly, and with plenty of control, lift your hips and glutes. Lower yourself down with the same amount of control.
You should squeeze your glutes as you lift your hips, not just when you reach the top of the movement. This will help you get the most out of the exercise.
Try not to wobble the ball as you lift and lower yourself. It’s harder than it sounds!
8. Oblique Twist
Your obliques are wrapped around the sides of your abdominals and help you rotate and move at ease. Keeping them strong and healthy is crucial for day-to-day activities.
To do an exercise ball oblique twist:
- Sit on the ball and lean back slightly.
- Your feet should be firmly planted into the ground to avoid falling off the ball.
- Bend your arms and bring your hands together.
- Twist your body to one side, stopping when your hands are completely facing one side of your body.
- Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
Your abs should be engaged the whole time. It’s best to visualize them pulling you back into the starting position. You do not want your shoulders or back doing the heavy lifting in this exercise. Adding a small dumbbell will make this exercise even more challenging.
9. Shoulder Raises
In this exercise, the exercise ball lifts your upper body off the ground, allowing you to have a better range of motion in your arms.
Start with your chest on the exercise ball and legs extended in a plank position. Bring your arms in front of your body and pulse them up and down. You can also bring them to your side (in a ‘T’ position) and pulse them there. For an extra challenge, alternate between the two arm positions, pulsing in between movements.
You are guaranteed to feel the burn on the exercise! Just make sure the rest of your body is activated and strong so you don’t slip off the ball.
10. Pike Lift
A pike involves you lifting your glutes and hips into the air. It’s great for your core and stability, and even greater for them when done on an exercise ball.
Start with your hands on the ground and your feet resting on the top of your exercise ball. This should look similar to a plank. From there, lift your hips into the air, squeeze your glutes and abs as you do so. Try to hold the lifted position for a few seconds before gently lowering yourself back into the starting position.
We aren’t going to lie… this move is difficult. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t master it the first time around. Take your time practicing – we know you’ll get it eventually!
11. Leg Lifts
Your hamstrings and glutes will thank you for doing this exercise. It’s simple but effective.
Start laying face down on your mat with the exercise ball in between your legs. Lift your legs, bringing the exercise ball with them, and then lower them back down. We recommend adding a couple of pulses to every move for an extra burn.
Repeat this move several times.
There are a lot of exercises you can do with a simple exercise ball. Admittedly, some are more difficult than others… but what fun would it be if they were all the same?
The most difficult part about using a ball during a workout is keeping your balance in check. Be prepared to take your time with each exercise; it’s easy to lose your balance on a ball with no flat edges.
We promise that by the end, your core will be burning and your balance will be impeccable!
Do you have a lot of experience working out with an exercise ball? What’s your favorite move? Let us know in the comments below!