You may have seen a stability ball at your gym and wondered what to do with it. Maybe you’ve even laid on it and done some crunches. What looks like a giant beach ball is actually an amazing prop that not only adds variety to your workout routine, but increases abdominal strength and balance.

The first thing you want to do when using the stability ball is get the right size. There are three sizes: 55cm, 65cm and 75cm.  When seated on the ball your with knees are bent at a 90 degree angle, your thighs should be parallel to the floor.

While there are too many exercises to count, here are 2 of my favorites to do ‘on the ball’:

Pelvic Bridge: Targets the glutes, core, hamstrings, inner thighs and upper back stabilizers. Lie with your back flat and arms by your side and the ball about a foot from your bottom. Heels are hip distance apart and on the top of the ball. Inhale to prepare and as you exhale, tuck the pelvis, flatten the spine and peel your hips off the floor and lift so that they are in a level line with your knees and chest. Keep the ball still throughout. Inhale at the top of the movement and then exhale as you slowly lower the spine from the top, down to the floor. Remember to engage the core, glutes and inner thighs throughout. Add some single leg lifts to challenge your balance and to add that extra glute burn. If you do, keep your hips still and level with the floor.

Plank: Targets upper back, arms, core, hamstrings. Place the ball behind you and come to hands and knees in front of it. Carefully reach one leg back so that the shin and top of the foot are resting flat on the top of the ball. Engage the abdominals deeply and extend the other leg to meet the first leg. Legs can be pressed together or hip distance apart. You will need to walk your hands and torso forward so you are in a full plank position. Keep the spine long and shoulders directly above the wrists. You can simply hold this position or do small wide-elbow (easier) or narrow elbow (harder) push-ups. Remember to pull the abdominals up as you bend the elbows! Even more challenging is to keep the legs straight while pulling the hips into the air. At the end of this movement your body will look like an upside down letter V.  The goal is to keep the upper body stable, the spine properly aligned and the ball steady.

If you have room for a stability ball at home, I highly recommend it. Mine stays in a closet and I bring it out as needed. You can create a challenging home workout for yourself and you will feel the burn pretty quickly!


-Jessica Kuiken

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