Exercises for a Fitness Ball

Don’t be fooled by the large, bright, inflatable exercise ball. It may look like fun–and indeed it can be–but it is also a powerful piece of fitness equipment for improving core strength and balance. The American Council on exercise says that exercise balls improve posture, body awareness and help support the body to perform better in almost any activity.

Walk the Plank

Plank exercises work the core and don’t require anything other than your body to perform. Those exercisers looking to make their planks more challenging can take to the exercise ball. To perform the exercise ball plank begin from a prone position–on the stomach–on the ball. Roll forward with your hands on the ground until the exercise ball reaches your shins. Hold the body straight–like a plank–so the hips and spine do not sag or bend. Physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning coach Jason Brumitt recommends holding the position for 10 to 15 seconds two to three times and building up to four to five holds as strength increases.

Learn to Like the Pike

Listed by the American Council on Exercise as an advanced exercise, the exercise ball pike should only be performed after mastering other easier exercises. The exercise ball pike works the core muscles and also the shoulders and chest. Begin just as with the stability ball plank but continue to roll the ball forward until the toes are on the top of the stability ball. Tighten your abs and make sure your body is straight. With your legs still straight roll the ball forward so your hips and butt move upward. Your hips continue up and forward until they reach a position directly above your head and shoulders–your upper and lower body at about a 90-degree angle. Slowly return back to the starting position and repeat 12 to 15 times if able to maintain good form.

Curl Up

The exercise ball not only works the core and upper body, it also works lower body muscles like the hamstrings. The exercise ball hamstring curl strengthens the back of the thighs and the butt while still engaging the abs and other core muscles. The American Council on Exercise lists this as an intermediate level exercise. From a supine–on your back–position on the floor place your feet on top of the exercise ball. Contract your abs and glutes to lift your hips until your upper and lower body form a straight line. Flex your knees by contracting your hamstrings to pull the ball closer and lift your hips higher. Slowly return to the starting position.

About this Author

Aaron Jacobsen specializes in writing about health, fitness and mental performance topics for websites including LIVESTRONG. He holds a master’s degree in kinesiology and is a former faculty member at San Jose University.