Call it the white (or yellow or blue) elephant in the living room: That vinyl stability ball seemed like a good idea when you bought it, but hasn’t quite fulfilled its promise. Now try these exercises, illustrated by personal fitness and nutritional coach Bootsie Crawford. Stability balls work abdominal and back muscles while working arm and leg muscles, as well as improve posture and balance, Crawford says.
Sit on the ball with your feet flat on the floor and your ears, shoulders, and hips in a straight line. Walk your feet forward, rolling the ball under your back until your neck and head rest on the ball. Keep your back rounded as you move, but make sure in the end position your back is straight, forming a tabletop. Reverse the process and repeat 10 to 24 times. This move works the abdominals and strengthens the hamstrings.
Leg Extension and Seated Leg Curl
Sit on the ball with your feet flat on the floor and your ears, shoulders, and hips in a straight line. Put hands in a prayer position or on your waist. Flex your left foot and lift your leg; lower your leg until your heel touches the ball. Repeat 12 to 16 times. Then repeat with the right leg. This exercise works the thigh, quadriceps, and hamstrings.
Sit on the ball with your feet flat on the floor and your ears, shoulders, and hips in a straight line. Holding a weight in each hand, extend your arms in front of you. Pull your elbows back until the weights are at your side. Repeat 12 to 16 times. This exercise works the biceps and back.
Roll down on the ball into a tabletop position. Keeping your bellybutton lifted to the ceiling, lower a weight in both hands behind your head. Extend your arms, lifting the weight toward the ceiling. Repeat 12 to 16 times. This exercise works the triceps and shoulders.
Modified Pilates Rollup
Lie on the floor with your arms holding the ball overhead. Keep legs together and flat on the floor, toes out. Breathe in as you lift the ball. Keeping your spine curved as you lift your upper body, roll the ball along your legs all the way to your toes. Roll back down. Repeat six to eight times. This exercise works the abdominal muscles and stretches the spine.
Abdominal Ball Lift
Lie on the floor with your spine, shoulders, and elbows flat on the floor and hands touching your ears. Bend your knees over the ball. With the ball tight against your thighs, dig your heels into the ball and lift it as far as you can. Lower the ball to the floor. Repeat 10 to 24 times. This exercise works abdominal muscles.
Leg Extension With Ball
Lie on the floor with your spine, shoulders, and elbows flat on the floor and hands touching your ears. Place the inside of one foot on the pinhole of the ball and the other in the center of the circle on the opposite side of the ball. Squeezing the ball between your feet, extend your legs. Lower the ball to the floor. Repeat 10 to 24 times. This exercise works the inner thighs and quadriceps.
If the Ball Fits …
When you sit on the ball, your derriere and knees should be level. Here’s a general guide for determining the right diameter ball:
5’2" or shorter 55-inch diameter
5’3" to 6′ 65-inch diameter
Taller than 6′ 72-inch diameter