Back on the Ball

8 exercises to strengthen your body while on an exercise ball.

So, you’ve been spending time on an exercise ball for some time and you’re looking for something new. But don’t walk away from the exercise ball just yet. Instead, look through the exercises below and slip them into your ball-centric routine.

Bended-Knee Bridges: Start this exercise lying on the ground on your back, with your calves and heels on top of an exercise ball. Place your arms straight out to your sides and lift your back and buttocks off the ground. As you do this, tighten your gluteus maximus and raise your hips toward the ceiling. When you reach the top of the movement, hold the position for a moment and slowly return to the starting position.

Bridge and Dig: For this one, do everything you did in the bended-knee bridges. But when you raise your buttocks and hips as high as they’ll go in the air, use your feet to pull the ball toward your body. Then dig your feet into the ball to maintain balance hold. Return to the starting position slowly and repeat.

Why Use an Exercise Ball? It’s a way to constantly strengthen your core, which makes it possible to further the rest of your exercise routine and be better prepared for life in general.

Rolling for Abs: Start by getting in the sit-up position (lying on your back, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor). Hold the exercise ball right below your knees, your hands sitting on top of the ball. Slowly lift your back and shoulder blades off the floor, as if performing a normal sit-up. As you make this motion, roll the ball to the top of your knees, without allowing it to roll over so far that you lose the ball. Hold this position for a moment and slowly return to the starting position.

Reach and Kick: This one looks a bit silly, but it is effective if done properly. Begin by placing the ball on the floor and getting on your hands and knees over the ball. Then raise your right arm up and out to the side. At the same time, kick out your left leg. Hold both in the air for two seconds, return the starting position, and repeat using the opposite leg and arm. Once you learn the exercise, move your arm and leg into positions that make it more difficult to balance.

Stand and Split: With your feet together, stand a foot or so behind an exercise ball. Put your hands on the ball by bending at your hips and keeping your legs straight. Next, raise your right leg directly behind your body until it is parallel to the floor. While keeping your lifted foot flexed and inner thigh pointed at the ground, rotate your torso to the right as you extend your right arm toward the sky and turn your head to look at your lifted right hand. Hold for a few seconds, slowly return to the starting position, and repeat using your left leg and arm.

Walk It Out: Lying facedown on the exercise ball with your stomach on the ball, allow your hands and feet to rest on the floor. From this position, use your hands to walk away from the exercise ball. As you do this, your feet will lift off the ground and onto the exercise ball. Walk your way away from the ball until your body is in the plank position (straight and almost parallel to the ground). Hold this position for a second or two and slowly make your way back on top of the ball the same way you left.

Side Lifts: For this one, you’ll need to get on the ground on your left side. Place your arms on the ground in front of your body for balance. (You’ll want your left arm directly underneath your body, with your elbow helping to lift your upper body off the ground.) Hold the exercise ball between your calf muscles and slowly lift your legs straight up. At the top of the lift, hold the position, and return to the starting position. After your desired number of repetitions, switch to your right side and repeat.

Pass It On: Start out flat on your back, with an exercise ball in your hands. Raise your legs and torso at the same time until your shins are approximately parallel to the ground. At the peak of your movement, place the ball between your feet. Return to the starting position and repeat. This time, when you raise up, remove the ball from between your feet. Return again to the starting position and repeat.

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