5 balance ball exercises to improve core stability and overall fitness
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:
Sit on the ball and roll out until your lower back is resting comfortably on the ball. Place your hands loosely behind your head. Engage your abdomen — pull your navel in while exhaling — and curl your trunk forward until you feel the contraction in your abdominal muscles. Hold for five seconds. Then, return to starting position and repeat 12 times.
Sit on the ball and roll out until your lower back is resting comfortably on the ball. Place your hands loosely behind your head for support — don’t pull on your head. Slowly curl your trunk forward, with your left elbow pointing toward your right knee. Keep your chin tucked in. Hold that position for five seconds; then, return to your starting position. Repeat on the other side, with your right elbow pointing toward your left knee. Do 12 repetitions on each side.
Alternating arm and leg extensions (for lower back)
Kneel in front of the ball; then, place your chest on the ball with your hands on the floor in front of you. Your thighs, hips, abdomen and chest should be in contact with the ball. Straighten your legs and lift your left arm and right leg simultaneously — use your alternate arm and leg to maintain balance — until they are parallel with the floor. Hold for five seconds. Then, return to your starting position and repeat with opposite side. Perform 12 times on each side.
Double leg extension
Kneel in front of the ball. Place your chest on the ball and your hands on the floor in front of you. Your thighs, hips, abdomen and chest should be in contact with the ball. With both your arms on the floor, slowly contract your lower back and gluteal muscles and then raise your legs together. Hold the position for five seconds. Return to start position and do 12 to 15 repetitions.
Reverse bridge (strengthens lower back and hamstring muscles)
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.
Lie on your back next to the ball. Roll the ball under your legs. Rest with your legs at 90 degrees on top of ball for five minutes.