Weight Training For Dummies
Book image
Explore Book Buy On Amazon

Use your ball exercises as part of your weekly strength-training routine or rotate ball exercises in and out of your regular workouts. The variety challenges your muscles in different ways and also keeps your workouts fresh and fun.

As with all other resistance exercises, perform 8 to 15 repetitions per set and at least one set per muscle group, unless indicated otherwise in the specific exercise. When you can perform 15 repetitions easily, make the exercise tougher by decreasing the base of support (by picking up one foot or by bringing legs closer together) or by adding weight.

Ball bridge pose

Ball bridge pose

The ball bridge pose is a great basic exercise to help strengthen your abdominal muscles, hips and lower back.

Sit tall on your ball with your legs at a 90-degree angle and your feet flat on the floor.

Walk your feet out until the ball is supporting your upper back, shoulders, head, and neck.

Make sure to keep your hips lifted up toward the ceiling so your back and spine are straight.

Hold for ten seconds, and then walk your feet back in to return to the seated starting position.

Complete a total of three repetitions.

Ball bridge lift

Ball bridge lift

The ball bridge lift works your entire core area, which includes anything from your ribcage to your hips (which means your lower back, too). Because you have to use your lower legs to control the movement of the ball, this exercise may also challenge your calf muscles.

Lie on the floor with your feet on top of the ball.

Keep your legs straight, and place your arms on the floor alongside your body for support.

Exhale as you lift your hips and pelvis toward the ceiling, pressing down into the ball with your feet to maintain your balance.

Inhale as you slowly lower your hips back down toward the floor.

Complete a total of ten repetitions.

Ball push-ups

Ball push-ups

Ball push-ups target your abdominal muscles and lower back to keep you steady.

Keeping your lower legs or shins on the ball helps you balance yourself during the push-up.

Lie with your belly on the ball and walk your hands forward until the ball rests under your legs.

Make sure that you keep your hands directly below your shoulders.

Lower your upper body toward the floor, bending the elbows out to the sides.

Straighten the elbows and exhale as you press back up into starting position.

Complete a total of ten repetitions.

Ball leg circles

Ball leg circles

The lifting motion of your midsection used in this exercise helps create toned abs and a stronger back. By adding the extra weight of your leg as you lift it off the ball, you’ll feel a strengthening in your back muscles as well.

Lie on the floor with your feet on top of the ball.

Keep your legs straight, and place your arms on the floor alongside your body for support.

Keep your right leg on the ball and your shoulders on the floor, lift your hips, and extend your left leg toward the ceiling.

Point your toes and use your leg to make five small circles to the right, and then five small circles to the left.

Lower your left leg back to the ball and return your hips to the floor.

Repeat this movement with the other leg.

Complete a total of five sets on each side.

Ball single-leg bridge

Ball single-leg bridge

The ball single-leg bridge is a variation of the classic bridge exercise. But the ball single-leg bridge targets your lower back, abdominals, and hips, which provides you with a more toned waist. The ball single-leg bridge uses only one leg to support the weight of your entire body, so your all-important core (abs and butt muscles) gets a good workout.

Sit tall on the ball and roll down slowly until only your shoulders touch the ball.

As you contract your abs, cross your right leg across your left thigh.

Lift your hips toward the ceiling as you contract your butt muscles.

If you find the ball moving during this exercise, place it against a wall or a heavy piece of furniture.

Pause for a moment and then lower your hips.

Complete a total of ten repetitions before you switch legs and repeat on the other side.

Ball core extension

Ball core extension

In this exercise, extending your leg behind you and placing your hips over the ball works your abs, butt, and back muscles to help support your body and help you stay lifted.

Because you kneel on the floor in this exercise, you may want to place a floor mat or towel under your knees for comfort.

Kneel with your chest on the ball and tighten your abdominal muscles.

Your hands will be resting on the ball for support.

Slowly extend your right leg and left arm until they’re opposite each other.

Your right hand will still rest on the ball for support. Be sure to keep your back straight and in line with your arms and legs.

You should be able to draw an imaginary straight line down the center of your body.

Point your toes and hold that pose for a few seconds before you return to your starting position.

Complete a total of ten repetitions before you switch legs and repeat on the other side.

Ball sit-ups

Ball sit-ups

Perhaps the number-one exercise used on the ball for abdominals is the sit-up. Harder than traditional on-the-floor sit-ups and requiring more endurance, this abdominal exercise will be sure to kick your butt!

Lie with the ball supporting your lower back and pelvis. Place your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your knees at a 90-degree angle. Place your hands behind your head and your elbows bent out to the sides.

Curl your body up halfway between a sitting and lying position.

Keep your tailbone pressed down on the ball.

Slowly roll back down onto the ball, one vertebra at a time.

Complete a total of two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions each.

Ball oblique crunch

Ball oblique crunch

The ball oblique crunch works the muscles that run along the waist, otherwise known as the obliques. This exercise is great for men and women who want to define their waistlines and lose their love handles as they shore up their cores.

Kneeling on the floor, position your left hip and the side of your body against the ball as you place your left arm on the ball for support.

Straighten your right leg out to the side and bring your right arm behind your head so you’re touching the back of your head.

Crunch up, bringing your right shoulder and elbow down toward your rib cage and right leg as you exhale.

Be sure to keep your left hip and side against the ball at all times to keep from slipping.

Lower back down toward the ball as you slowly inhale.

Complete ten crunches, and then switch sides and do ten crunches on the other side.

Ball oblique twists

Ball oblique twists

Because of the twisting motion in this exercise, your waist and your oblique muscles get a workout along with your abs.

Lie with your back on the ball and your feet planted firmly out in front of you. Bring your arms to your chest.

Make sure you have your heels directly below your knees. Your shoulders won’t touch the ball, so they’re free to move from side to side.

Starting with your right shoulder, contract your abdominal muscles as you slowly lift and turn your body toward your left hip.

Keep your body lifted for a moment, and then slowly lower your body to the starting position.

Repeat on the other side.

Continue alternating right and left side lifts for two sets of 12.

Ball exchange

Ball exchange

This is our favorite exercise for training your abdominals. It’s also good for developing hand–eye coordination, as you’ll see when you start passing the ball back and forth between your arms and legs.

Lie on your back, making sure your lower back is pressed down into the mat or floor.

Holding the ball, extend your arms and the ball directly above your head on the floor. Keep your head and neck resting on the floor.

Raise your arms and legs up to meet at a 90-degree angle above your torso.

Exchange the ball by grasping it between your legs. Then bring the ball back down to the floor.

Continue exchanging the ball 10 to 12 times.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

LaReine Chabut is a distinguished lifestyle and fitness expert, bestselling author, model, and mom. As the on-camera host of MSN’s hit web series Focus on Feeling Better, LaReine helped everyday people across America fit in exercise daily. She is most recognized as the lead instructor of The Firm, a series of popular workout videos and her blog losethatbabyfat.com.

This article can be found in the category: