30 of the Most Effective Stability Ball Exercises
The stability ball is an underrated piece of gym equipment that can really amp up even the most basic exercises!
Fit balls go by quite a few names such as a Swiss Ball or gym ball.
The physical therapist version is called a physio ball or therapy ball.
There is also a slightly larger version, the birth ball used by pregnant women. All of these names are used interchangeably.
Choose a ball based on your height.
For example, a 45 cm ball is ideal for someone under 5 feet tall.
Add more centimeters to the diameter for the taller you are.
The ball can help you improve your core strength, balance, and stability. It’s a rubber-inflated ball used to create an unstable surface.
This instability forces your body to engage even more muscles to maintain your balance.
Using the ball gives you greater strength, endurance, and an overall improvement in your level of fitness.
Stability ball exercises not only require core stability, but they also work all of your core body muscles, hips, and shoulders.
This will give you better posture, alignment and can help with low back pain.
It will also help the muscles of your body work more cohesively.
Stability ball exercises a great way to not only get stronger but leaner!
A clinical trial (a control group of 21 women with a sedentary lifestyle) found that with 45 minutes of training with a Swiss ball 3 times a week, the participants had a stronger core, lower body strength, more flexibility, and balance (1).
Whether your fitness goal is tighter abdominal muscles, more toned legs, and sculpted arms and shoulders, incorporating a workout ball into your training is the way to go.
Here are 30 of my favorite stability ball exercises to train your whole body!
30 of the Best Stability Ball Exercises
Bear in mind, proper form is imperative. The reps of each exercise below are suggestions.
Only perform these moves if you can maintain proper form.
If you’re a beginner, review, and master each exercise before adding a therapy ball.
1. Ball Wall Squat
- Stand with your feet, pointed out, slightly wider than your shoulders with your back to a wall. Your feet should be approximately 2 feet away from the wall. Place a ball behind your lower back.
- Slowly start to lower into a squat. Keep a neutral torso and your core engaged, continuing to press your back into the ball until your thighs are parallel with the ground.
- Press evenly through your feet as you rise back up. Repeat 10 – 12 squats for 2 – 3 sets.
2. Stability Ball Forearm Plank
- Set yourself up in a plank position with your forearms on the ball. Keep your elbows directly underneath your shoulders and a straight line from the tip of your head to your heels.
- Engage your core and don’t forget to breathe! Hold for a minute to start. Add more time with strength.
3. Stability Ball Plank
- Take your planks even further by adding a ball under your shins!
- Start by standing behind the ball. Walk your hands out on the mat settling into the basic high plank position with your wrists directly under your shoulders. Keep a neutral back, core engaged.
- Hold for a minute to start. Add more time with strength.
4. Knee Tucks
- Again, start in the basic plank position. As always, check your alignment. You want your wrists under your shoulders and the ball under your shins. Keep a neutral spine.
- Engage your core as you roll the ball towards your hands, tucking your knees into your chest. Pause.
- Return to start by straightening your legs and lowering your hips back down.
- Repeat 10 – 12 knee tucks for 2 – 3 sets.
5. Jackknife and Push-Up
Take your knee tucks a step further by adding a pushup!
- Set yourself up in a plank position with the tops of your feet on top of the ball. Using the tops of your feet, roll the ball in for a tuck.
- Immediately straighten your legs sending the ball back.
- Once you return to a neutral spine, lower into a pushup. As soon as your arms straighten, start to roll the ball back in. Complete 10 – 12 reps for 2 – 3 sets.
6. Stability Decline Push-Up
- Start in the basic pushup position with your feet on the ball and your hands under your shoulders.
- Keep your hips neutral, creating a straight line from the tip of your head to your heels.
- Bend at the elbows, lowering your upper body until your head is nearly on the floor. Pause. Press back up. Complete 10 – 12 pushups for 2 – 3 sets.
7. Swiss Ball Crunch
Target your core muscles by adding an exercise ball to your basic crunch.
- Lie on your back over the stability ball. Bend at the knees and have your feet planted firmly on the ground about hip-width distance apart. Bring your fingertips behind your ears.
- On an exhale, engage your core as you crunch up. Pause and then release back down. Repeat 10 – 12 reps for 2 – 3 sets.
8. Ball Side Crunch
Fire up your obliques by performing a side crunch on the ball.
- Place the exercise ball under your right hip, quad, and obliques. Bend your left knee, firmly planting your left foot on the ground. Stretch the right leg out, pressing the inner edge of your foot into the ground.
- Bring the fingertips of both hands behind your ears.
- On an exhale, take a side crunch to the right. Hold and then release back to the starting position.
- Complete 10 – 12 reps for 2 – 3 sets before switching to the left side.
9. Russian twist
- Start sitting on your physical therapy ball. Walk your feet out, rolling the ball until it is underneath your upper back and shoulders. Keep your hips up, spine parallel to the ground through the entire movement.
- Straighten your arms above you and clasp your hands above your heart. With control, twist the spine bringing your hands down to the right side. The ball will roll to the outer side of your right shoulder.
- Return to center. Then drop your clasped hands to the left. This is 1 repetition.
- Repeat 10 – 12 reps for 2 – 3 sets.
10. Stability Ball Rollouts
- Start in a kneeling position with your shins on the mat and your toes untucked. Place the stability ball in front of your thighs with your hands resting on top.
- Engage your core and slowly roll the ball in a straight line in front of you, the ball rolling down your forearms.
- Once the ball reaches your elbows, reverse the movement, coming back to the kneeling position. Repeat 10 – 12 reps for 2 – 3 sets.
11. Prone Ball Dumbbell Triceps Extension
- Lie face down on your exercise ball with a dumbbell in each hand. Straighten your legs and tuck your toes.
- Keep your chest and head up. You want a straight line from the tip of your head to your heels.
- Keep your upper arms tucked into your sides. On an exhale, start to straighten your arms sending the weights behind you, engaging your triceps.
- Inhale your arms back in. Repeat 10 – 12 times for 2 – 3 sets.
12. Hip Raise
- Lie on your back with your arms by your sides. Place both heels on a workout ball. Have your knees bent at 90-degree angles.
- Press through your heels to lift your pelvis and lower body in line with your knees and shoulders. Pause. With control, lower your torso back down to the mat.
- Repeat 10 – 12 times for 2 – 3 sets.
13. In & Out
The In & Out is a fun exercise that is all about control. Take your sweet time with this one!
- Start in your high plank position on the yoga ball. Check your alignment. Hands under your shoulders, shins on the ball. Hips level, a line from shoulders to feet.
- Slowly pick up your left leg and lower it down the ground beside the ball.
- As you are doing this, continue to press into the ball with your right leg and squeeze your glutes for stability.
- Return the left foot to the ball and repeat the same motion with your right leg. Complete for 10 – 12 reps for 2 – 3 sets.
14. Hamstring Leg Curl
Target your hamstrings, glutes, and core with this deceptively simple move.
- Start on your back with your feet on top of the ball. Your arms should be by your sides.
- Squeeze your glutes as you lift your pelvis off of the ground into a bridge pose. Slowly bend your knees, bringing the ball towards your pelvis.
- Pause. With control, return to start. Complete for 10 – 12 reps for 2 – 3 sets.
15. Prone Cobra
- Start by lying on your belly on top of your exercise ball. Your lower abs and pelvis should be resting on the ball. Have straight legs and tucked toes. Bring your arms out to a “t”.
- This is a 2-part motion. Engage your glutes and core as you lift your head and chest up and back into a backbend.
- Simultaneously, reach your arms back and rotate so that your thumbs are facing towards the sky. Spread wide through your collarbones. Pause. Return to the starting position. Repeat 10 – 12 reps for 2 – 3 sets.
Note that this is a backbend so warm up appropriately before performing.
16. Alternating Superman
- Lie face down on your ball, with your toes and hands grazing the ground.
- On an exhale, with control, extend opposite arm and leg. This is your right arm and left leg or left arm and right leg. Your extending arm should be at a 45-degree angle from the shoulder and the thumb pointing to the sky.
- Keep your glutes engaged, head up, and a neutral torso for the entire exercise. Hold. Then lower and repeat on the opposite side. Repeat 10 – 12 reps on each side for 2 – 3 sets.
17. Back Extension
Adding an exercise ball to your back extension is a great way to light up your back body!
- Place your heels against a wall, toes tucked, and lie face down on your stability ball. The ball should be resting by your hips. Bring your hands behind your head as if you are doing a crunch.
- On an exhale, engage your whole back body and lift your chest bringing your spine back to neutral. Hold. Slowly lower down. Repeat 10 – 12 reps for 2 – 3 sets.
18. Reverse Hip Raise
- Lie over the ball on your belly and hips. Roll forward enough that you can comfortably plant your forearms onto the ground.
- Engage your abdominals and simultaneously lift both legs off of the ground, creating a straight line from your heels to head.
- Pause. Slowly lower both legs to the starting position. Complete 10 – 12 reps for 2 – 3 sets.
Tired of boring old pushups? Add a physical therapy exercise ball!
- Set yourself up in the basic pushup position with both hands on the ball under your shoulders. Start to bend your arms, lowering your chest toward the ball. Keep your head and neck neutral.
- Pause when your chest is an inch over the ball and press through your arms to return to the starting position. Repeat 10 -12 reps for 2 – 3 sets or until you can no longer hold proper form.
20. Pike Crunch
Turn around the setup of the previous exercise for your Swiss ball pike crunch!
- Again, start in your push-up position, however, your feet are resting on the ball, hands are firmly planted on the ground under your shoulders.
- Slowly bend at the hips as you bring your feet toward your chest. Pause at the top of your pike. With control, straighten your legs returning to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 – 12 crunches for 2 – 3 sets.
21. Stability Ball Mountain Climber
Add a balance ball under your hands in your mountain climber exercise!
- Set yourself up in an inclined high plank position, hands on the ball. With control, pull your right knee into your chest without losing a neutral spine.
- Return the foot to the mat and repeat with the left foot. Continue for 1 minute.
- Speed up and add more reps as you become more comfortable with the motion and stronger.
22. High Knees
For this one, start in the upright standing position, feet hip-width distance apart, toes pointing forward. Hold your stability ball over your head with both hands firmly grasping.
Lift your right knee to waist level as you bring the ball down to touch the knee. Return to the starting position and repeat with your left knee. This is 1 repetition.
Repeat for 10 – 12 reps for 2 – 3 sets.
23. Scissors Crunch
- Lie on your back, holding the ball in both hands, arms extended.
- Lift and hold your head and shoulders off of the mat. Lift your right leg to a 90-degree angle as you hover your left leg just off the ground.
- Keeping your upper body lifted, start to alternate the positions of your legs. Don’t let your heels touch the ground in between reps. Repeat 10 -12 crunches for 2 – 3 sets.
- Lie on your back, holding the stability ball overhead with both hands. Both your arms and legs are extended.
- On an exhale, lift your arms and legs forming a “V” with your body and passing the ball from your hands to between your feet.
- Squeeze the ball with your legs as you lower back down to the ground. Repeat, passing the ball back into your hands. This is 1 rep. Repeat 10 – 12 reps for 2 – 3 sets.
25. Oblique Crunch
- Set yourself up in the basic crunch position but with the ball under your lower back. Your feet are flat on the ground and your hands are behind your ears.
- Engage your core as you crunch, twisting until your right elbow is pointing toward your left knee.
- Pause. Release back down and repeat on the opposite side, bringing your left elbow towards your right knee. Pause. Release. This is 1 rep.
- Repeat 10 – 12 crunches for 2 – 3 sets.
- Lie down with your belly on top of your stability ball. Your feet are on the floor with your toes tucked. Keep a flat back and your chest raised. You want a straight line from the tip of your head to your heels.
- Let your arms internally rotate and hang with your palms facing out.
- Contract your upper back, pulling your scapula together and engaging your core as you lift your arms out to a “T”.
- Your hands will be shoulder height and parallel to the ground. Hold. Reverse the movement back to starting position. Repeat 10 – 12 reps for 2 – 3 sets.
Similar to the T-Raise, you can also create a Y shape with your arms.
- Set yourself up as you would in the previous exercise.
- This time, when you lift your arms, bring them to approximately 30 degrees from your body, creating the letter “Y”. Pause. Slowly lower.
- Repeat 10 – 12 reps for 2 – 3 sets.
28. Dumbbell Chest Press
- Lie back on your therapy ball. Have your upper body on the ball, knees bent and feet firmly planted on the floor. With a dumbbell in each hand, bend the arms to 90-degrees, palms facing toward your toes.
- Engage your core as you straighten your arms, pressing towards the sky. Hold at the top, then return the weights to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 – 12 reps for 2 – 3 sets.
29. Dumbbell Row
- Place the stability ball under your hips as you lie face down with your core engaged.
- Have a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing toward each other by your ribs.
- Bending at the elbows, bring the weight forward towards your shoulders. On an exhale, extend your arms behind you in line with your body. Retract your shoulder blades. Pause. Return the weight to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 – 12 rows for 2 – 3 sets.
30. Bridge Lateral Walk on Stability Ball
- Lie on your back with the stability ball underneath your shoulders. Keep your hips level with your feet on the floor in a reverse tabletop. Bring your hands to your hips.
- Start to walk your feet to the right. The ball will roll to your left shoulder. Pause. Reverse, walking your feet to the left, letting the ball roll to your right shoulder. Pause. This is 1 rep. Repeat 10 – 12 reps for 2 – 3 sets.
Want to take it even further? Add a theraband around your quads or above your ankles.
Adding a stability ball to your strength training workout will amp up almost any exercise, especially core exercises!
The unstable surface of the ball will force your body to fight harder to maintain balance creating core stability and a stronger and leaner body.
Review each exercise before adding a ball to fully understand the proper form.
Lastly, before starting an exercise ball program or weight training, choose a ball diameter appropriate for your height.
Consult a personal trainer or even a spine specialist for additional support with your exercise ball technique.
Add any of these 30 exercises to your workout today!
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