Advanced Fitball Exercises

Experts agree that the fitball, also known as a stability, exercise or fitness ball, is a valuable ab training tool. The Mayo Clinic advises doing abdominal crunches on a fitball to tone your abs, and a 2001 American Council on Exercise-commissioned study ranked the same exercise as the most effective abdominal exercise.

While all fitball exercises focus on some element of strengthening your abs and core, thanks to the fitball’s persistent instability, many advanced fitball exercises involve other muscles, too.

Advanced Fitball Plank

The advanced fitball plank works your chest, shoulders and arms in an isometric contraction, along with your entire core.

To do an advanced plank, drape yourself stomach-down over a fitball. Tighten your core muscles to keep your body straight from head to feet. Place both hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart, and walk yourself slowly forward until the ball is underneath your thighs and your hands are positioned underneath your shoulders.

Shift your body weight forward until your shoulders are in front of your hands and the fitball is supporting your shins. The Mayo Clinic recommends holding this position for three deep breaths before rolling back so that the ball is beneath your thighs. If you’re ready for an even more challenging variation, try lifting one leg slightly off the ball as you hold the forward position.

Advanced Fitball Push-ups

Doing push-ups on the floor works your chest, arms, shoulders and core. Adding the fitball’s extra instability challenges all of the muscles involved to stabilize your body. You can do push-ups with either your hands or feet on the fitball; balancing only your toes on the fitball is one of the most difficult variations.

To do advanced fitball push-ups, assume the starting plank position described above, hands underneath your shoulders, thighs on the ball, then continue walking yourself forward, abs tight and body straight, until your body weight is supported by your hands, placed slightly wider apart than your shoulders, and your toes are balanced on the peak of the fitball.

Perform regular push-ups from this position, lowering your chest toward the ground. Stop when your shoulders are level with your elbows, then push back up into the starting position. If this is too difficult, try balancing your shins on the ball or placing your hands on a small platform to elevate your shoulders slightly.

Fitball Pikes

Stability ball pikes work your shoulders, arms, back, chest and thighs in addition to your entire core. If you feel uncomfortable practicing this motion on your own, ask a spotter to stabilize either the fitball or your hips as you get used to the exercise.

Assume the push-up position described above, except your hands should be directly beneath your shoulders. Squeeze your abs to keep your torso straight and hinge up at the hips, rolling the ball toward your body as you assume a pike position. In the ending position your torso should be vertical, rear end pointing at the ceiling, legs straight, toes still planted on the fitball.

About this Author

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics at the University of Alaska Anchorage and contributes regularly to various online publications. Print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.