Stability balls (also known as balance balls) are a wonderful tool to add variety and challenge to your workouts. They are my single most favorite piece of equipment for my prenatal, postpartum, and overweight clients due to their ability to modify many core and lower body exercises. They also add a balance challenge to any exercise allowing you to work on your stabilizing muscles.
For this newsletter I am including my favorite stability ball exercises for the core. Next newsletter will be my favorite ball exercises for the lower and upper body. Each one is rated as B=Beginner or A=for advanced. But don’t be fooled, even the beginner exercises will give you a good burn and work your body! They also indicate if they are *Safe for pregnancy. These are also amazing to help you gain your core muscle integrity back after having a baby!
If you own a Stability Ball or go to a gym where there are some, try these out and see how you like them for your own workouts!
Stability Ball Exercises:
- Supported Crunch: B, *Safe for Pregnancy through 20 weeks
Lie down with low back supported on stability ball, feet on ground, knees hip width apart, and hands behind head. Using abdominal muscles, crunch up with upper body, pulling belly in as you do.
- Bridge: B, *Safe for Pregnancy
Lie on ball with upper back and shoulders supported, feet on ground and butt hanging off of the ball. Arms can be resting on hips or crossed across chest. Engage ab muscles and pelvic floor muscles as you pull your lower body up to make a straight line from your knees to your belly. Then relax and drop lower body slightly before repeating.
- Ball Rollout: B, *Safe for Pregnancy unless risk of Diastasis Recti
Start on knees with forearms resting on stability ball. Engage abs and make sure back is straight. Inhale and roll forearms away from body lowering body until hips are dropped. Exhale as you pull ball back toward you keeping back straight.
- Modified Plank: B, *Safe for Pregnancy
Starting in same position as for the Ball Rollout, roll ball out until back is a straight line from the knees to the head. Pull belly in as you stabilize and hold for 15-90 seconds.
- Back extension: B, *Safe for 1st Trimester
Lying with stomach on the ball, feet wide apart for support, front hanging off of the ball and hands behind head, engage abs by pulling belly in. Lower upper body slightly down, inhaling. As you exhale, use back muscles to pull upper body up to a straight line with the rest of the body.
- Plank: A
With forearms resting on stability ball and feet on floor in a plank position, make sure back is straight and pull belly in to stabilize. Hold for 15-90 seconds.
- Knee Tuck: A
With hands on ground (as if about to do a pushup), place both feet on stability ball behind you. Start with ball far enough back that you are in a de-elevated plank position. Pull belly in and use abs to pull ball towards hands as you bend your knees. Slowly roll ball out to starting.
- Ball Pass: A
Lying on your back on the ground with legs out straight, place ball between feet and hold with feet. Use abs to raise legs straight up (keeping ball between feet) until legs are straight up in the air. Use abs to pull upper body up as you reach for ball with hands and bring it back down behind your head, lowering legs simultaneously. Repeat by raising legs straight up as you raise ball with arms, placing the ball between the feet again and then lower back to the ground.
- Birddog: B, Safe through 1st trimester
Lie with stomach resting on ball and feet and hands on ground. Engage core by bringing tummy in and lift right arm and left leg in a straight line up. Lower, carefully, and repeat with opposite arm and leg.