Balance Ball Basics

Five exercises to improve core stability

Balance balls are a fun, inexpensive piece of equipment that offer a total body workout while also improving balance. They can be used for sitting, sit-ups, lifting weights and more.

Here are five exercises you can do at home or at the gym to improve your core stability and strength:

Basic crunch

Basic Crunch

Sit on the ball and roll out until lower back is resting comfortably on ball. Put hands loosely behind your head. Engage abdomen (pull belly button in while exhaling) and curl trunk forward until you feel the contraction in your abdominals. Hold for five seconds. Return to starting position and repeat 12 times.

Oblique crunch

Oblique Crunch

Sit on the ball and roll out until your lower back is resting comfortably on the ball. Place hands loosely behind your head for support (don’t pull on your head). Slowly curl your trunk forward, with left elbow pointing toward your right knee (keep chin tucked in). Hold position for five seconds. Return to start position. Repeat on the other side, with right elbow pointing toward your left knee. Do 12 repetitions on each side.

Alternating arm and leg extensions (for lower back)

Arm Leg Extension

Kneel in front of ball; place chest on ball with your hands on the floor in front of you. Thighs, hips, abdomen and chest should be in contact with the ball. Straighten legs and lift left arm and right leg simultaneously (use alternate arm and leg to maintain balance) until they are parallel with the floor. Hold for five seconds. Return to start position and repeat with opposite side. Perform 12 times on each side.

Double leg extension

Double Leg Extension

Kneel in front of the ball. Place your chest on the ball and hands on the floor in front of you. Thighs, hips, abdomen and chest are in contact with the ball. With both arms on the floor, slowly contract the lower back and gluteal muscles and raise your legs together. Hold position for five seconds. Return to start position and do 12 to 15 repetitions.

Reverse bridge (strengthens lower back and hamstring muscles)

Reverse Bridge

Lay on the floor and place your calves on the ball so the ball touches your ankles and calves. Spread your arms out for extra stability. With your feet slightly apart, lift your buttocks off the floor while keeping the knees bent. Hold position for five seconds, then slowly return to start position. Repeat 12 to 15 times.

Resting posture

Resting Posture

Lie on your back next to the ball. Roll ball under legs. Rest with legs at 90 degrees on top of ball for five minutes.