Want Strong Abs? Add an Exercise Ball to Your Next Workout For Extra Intensity
A strong core is basically the foundation that holds your body together. I mean, your abdominal muscles help with your posture, keep you walking and running, are activated when you breathe — it's incredible how much they do for you in your everyday life. Increasing your core strength can also alleviate lower back pain. Aesthetic-wise, six-packs look pretty damn cool, too. And when it comes to working your core, you can use all types of equipment whether that be medicine balls, dumbbells, a kettlebell, or a good ol' exercise ball filled with air.
Exercise balls (Swiss balls, stability balls . . . whatever you call them) are great for targeting your abs because they bring that extra intensity by challenging your balance. Ahead, check out 10 of our favorite exercises you can do with them. Plus, some of these have the added bonus of also working your arms and legs. Note: the moves themselves are not a workout. You can include a few in your next sweat session to target that core (we recommend sets of eight to 12 reps). If you are looking for an ab workout using an exercise ball, check out this five-move circuit.
Stir the Pot
- Begin in an elbow plank with your forearms resting on the top of a ball.
- Keeping your core strong and your body still, use your arms to roll the ball in a small clockwise circle. This completes one rep. Try it counter-clockwise as well.
Standing Ab Rollout
- Place your palms on the ball, and stand with your legs wide, about three or so feet apart. Walk the ball out so your back is straight and your hips are in the same line as your ankles.
- From here, lean your body forward, allowing the ball to roll down your forearms. Stop once your elbows reach the ball and you're balancing on your tiptoes in a plank position.
- Then use your core and legs to get your body back to the starting position. Keep your abs engaged throughout this move.
Ball Mountain Climbers
- Begin in a high plank with your hands resting on the top of a ball.
- With your core engaged, bring your right knee forward under your chest, with the toes just off the ground. Return to your high plank. Switch legs, bringing the left knee forward. This completes one rep.
Ball Knee Tucks
- Start in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your shins on the ball.
- Do not allow your lower back to arch. Keep your feet, pelvis, and shoulders in one long line.
- On an exhale, pull the ball forward toward your hands. Extend your legs as you push the ball backward, returning to your starting position. This completes one rep.
Plank With Leg Lift
- Lie with an exercise ball under your belly and walk your hands out until the ball is under your shins. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders in a plank position.
- Draw your navel toward your spine to engage your abs and stabilize your torso.
- Lift your left leg up, squeezing your glute, then slowly lower your leg back onto the ball. Switch sides and lift the right leg keeping your pelvis square. This counts as one rep.
- Start in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your shins on the ball with your feet, pelvis, and shoulders in one long line.
- On an exhale, pull your abs deeply to your spine and use your abs to fold your body in half, pulling the ball forward toward your hands as your pelvis moves up in the air.
- Your toes will move onto the top of ball and your back will become perpendicular to the floor, like a handstand. Allow your head to fall between your arms, keeping your neck long and in line with your spine.
- Lower yourself back into a plank position for one rep.
Kneeling Ball Roll Out
- Kneel with the ball in front of you and lean into the ball as you place your forearms on the ball. You should already feel your abs working here, so be sure to pull your navel toward your spine.
- Push your arms into the ball as you roll it away as far as you can without compromising your form — breaking at the waist or over-arching your back. Hold this plank-like position for two to three seconds.
- Slowly return to the starting position by contracting your abs and rolling the ball back toward your knees. That completes one rep.
- Lie on your back, holding an exercise ball above your chest, extending your feet up toward the ceiling.
- On an exhale, move your arms and legs away from each other, lowering both toward the ground. Inhale to bring them back toward each other, and transfer the ball from your hands to your legs.
- Then lower your arms and legs toward the floor away from each other.
- Bring them back together, transferring the ball back to your hands to complete one rep.
Crunches on Exercise Ball
- Sit on an exercise ball.
- Place your hands behind your head, and walk your feet away from the ball so your torso starts to roll onto the ball. The ball should support your hips and the curve of your lower back. Your legs should form a bridge with your knees bent at right angles.
- Exhale and lift your upper body by about 45 degrees, pulling the deep abs in toward the spine, and return to starting position for one rep.
Ball Pike Rollbacks
- Start in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your toes on the ball. Do not allow your lower back to arch. Keep your feet, pelvis, and shoulders in one long line.
- On an exhale, pull your abs deeply to your spine to fold your body in half, pulling the ball forward toward your hands as your pelvis and butt move upward in the air.
- This is a pike position. Allow your head to fall between your arms, keeping your neck long and in line with your spine.
- Lower yourself back into a plank position, keeping your core engaged. Then, push yourself back so your feet are going toward the wall behind you into an extended plank (or push-up position). You can allow the ball to roll onto your shins here.
- Roll forward to your starting plank position with your toes on the ball. This completes one rep.
Note: the variation seen here moves straight through your plank positions without stopping, which is a way to add intensity.