If you’re looking for one go-to piece of equipment to improve strength, cardio endurance, and balance, a stability ball may be your best investment. You’ll find these balls at the gym, but if you’re looking to get in shape on a budget, you can buy one for around $20 for your at-home workout space. Stability balls create an unstable surface that works your muscles more when you’re performing basic moves like push-ups, squats, and planks. If you’re recovering from an injury they can reduce muscle and spinal strain when used with certain exercises.
Give these stability ball exercises a try and enjoy the results!
1. Wall squat
Find an empty wall space and place the stability ball between the wall and the middle part of your back. Position your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Clasp your hands in front of you and slowly lower into a squat position until your upper thighs are parallel to the floor. In the squat, check to make sure your knees aren’t extended beyond the toes before slowly rolling back up to standing. Keep your back straight and posture tall as you engage your core muscles and push back into the stability ball. Perform this exercise 15 times for up to three sets. To take it up a notch, try a single leg wall squat where one leg is held straight out in front of you, putting all the weight into the other leg.
2. Balancing lunges
To get a deeper lower body workout, use a stability ball when you do your lunges. Perform this exercise by placing the top of your left foot on the ball. Bend your right knee and lunge while engaging your right glute. Make sure your standing knee doesn’t move beyond your toes when bent. The ball will move backwards and your shin will touch the tip of the ball. As you straighten your right leg the ball will move forward until it is resting under your toes. Complete three sets of 12 to 15 reps on each side for up to three sets.
3. Balancing push-ups
Using a stability ball for your daily push-ups will add a whole new dimension of balance to the exercise. Your arms and shoulders will feel the burn, but you will also gain strength in your chest and core. To start, lie with your abdomen on the ball and walk your hands forward on the floor until the ball is resting under your thighs and knees. Pull your belly toward your spine and lower your body to the floor. Hold for three seconds and push up. Repeat up to 15 times for three sets.
4. Triceps dips
For a little upper body action, sit on a workout bench or stable surface with your hands on the edge, fingers facing forward. Set your ankles and calves on top of the stability ball and straighten your arms to lift your hips up and off the bench. Bend your arms to lower your body down low before straightening them back to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for three sets.
5. Ball pass
The stability ball is the king of abdomen exercises. You can use the ball to do basic crunches, but one of the best ab exercises is the ball pass. Lie on your back on the floor and hold the ball between your ankles. Extend your arms straight behind your head. Raise your legs with the ball as you reach your torso up to take the ball from between your ankles to your hands. Straighten out your body so the ball touches the floor behind you before reaching back up with both arms and legs to pass the ball back to your legs. Repeat 10 to 15 times for up to three reps.
If you want to take your stability ball exercises to the next level, the pike may be the exercise for you. Start as you did for the push-up, making sure your hands are under your shoulders and your thighs and knees are resting on the ball. Engage your core and activate your legs so your body is rigid and tight. Keeping your legs straight and pull your feet toward your chest, rolling the ball forward. Your hips should rise up and pike toward the ceiling with a goal of pulling your hips vertically until they’re directly over your shoulders. Slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position. Repeat up to 10 times in three sets, making sure your abdominals stay tight and engaged to avoid a sagging lower back.