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Stability balls: You know them, you’ve used them, you probably have one collecting dust in your basement right now. And though we’re sure you’ve mastered the art of the stability ball crunch, there’s so much more this multitasking beach ball can do. Can it tone your arms? Yep. Torch your core? Duh. Burn those hammies? You know it. Rev up cardio? Absolutely. With a little knowledge, stability ball exercises can challenge every single major muscle group (while simultaneously improving your balance, coordination, core strength, flexibility and posture).

“Incorporating a stability ball into your workout will challenge you to use muscles you wouldn’t typically use,” Morgan Kline, co-founder and COO of Burn Boot Camp tells us, “such as your transverse abdominals,” those deep core muscles that are notoriously hard to target, “pelvic floor and lower back extensors. Use of these muscles will improve your core stability and balance while increasing the overall effectiveness of your workout.” And though its namesake suggests support rather than strength, research shows that exercises done on a stability ball are significantly more effective than those done on the floor. “In order to perform exercises with a stability ball, you have to engage and isolate a lot of muscles that aren’t typically used in bodyweight exercises.” So while you focus on sculpting those beautiful biceps, your rear deltoids are working overtime as well.

How to Choose the Right Size Stability Ball

Now, before you go grabbing that pump, you’re going to want to make sure you have the right ball size on hand. To do that, all you need to know is your height. If you’re 5’5” or shorter, stick to a 55 cm ball. If you’re 5’6” or taller reach for a 65 cm ball. If you’re over 6’0” (...overachiever), a 75 cm ball is the way to go. “Before getting started, make sure your ball has the proper amount of air in it,” Kline advises. It should be firm to the touch but not overinflated. If you’re new to using a ball, find your balance and start slow—because there's nothing more embarrassing than rolling on your butt mid-shoulder press. “Find a lot of space to move the ball around to get comfortable with it. Don’t jump right into the complex moves. Focus on getting your balance before testing any secondary movements. Sitting on the ball and moving your hips around is the best way to get your bearings.” Once you feel secure, it’s time to break a sweat.

Start with this 15-step stability ball exercise routine broken down into four main categories: lower body, upper body, core and cardio (to increase your heart rate and flush out those muscles). Complete 6 to 14 reps of each exercise, based on your current fitness level. Then grab an ice pack and some Advil because we guarantee you’re going to feel it tomorrow.

Beginner: low reps (6 or less)
Intermediate: moderate reps (8-12)
Advanced: high reps (14+)

EQUIPMENT SUGGESTIONS:

  1. Stability Ball (more options below!)
  2. Exercise Mat
  3. Dumbbell Set

RELATED: The 8-Step Resistance Band Workout Routine You Can Do Pretty Much Anywhere

stability ball exercises hamstring curl
Burn Boot Camp/Sofia Kraushaar

LOWER BODY

1. Stability Ball Hamstring Curl

*Works your glutes, hamstrings and core.

Step 1: Lie on your back with your arms out to your sides, palms facing down. Bend your knees and place your feet up on the stability ball about hip-width apart.

Step 2: Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings to lift your hips off the ground until your body forms a straight diagonal line from your shoulders to your knees. Engaging your core, extend your legs straight out, rolling the ball away from you. Bend your knees to roll the ball back in, all while keeping your hips lifted as high as you can. Lower your hips back down to the ground and repeat.

stability ball exercises single leg raise
Burn Boot Camp/Sofia Kraushaar

2. Stability Ball Single Leg Glute Raise

*Works your glutes, hamstrings, quads and core.

Step 1: Lie on your back with your arms out to your sides, palms facing down. Bend your knees and place one foot up on the stability ball. Send the other leg straight up towards the sky.

Step 2: Squeezing your glute and hamstring, press through the ball to lift your hips up off the ground, sending your straight leg higher into the air. Lower back down and repeat on the opposite side.

stability ball exercises hamstring floortap
Burn Boot Camp/Sofia Kraushaar

3. Stability Ball Hamstring Floor Tap

*Works your glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors and core.

Step 1: Lie on your back with your arms out to your sides, palms facing down. With your legs extended out straight, place your heels on top of the ball and squeeze your glutes and hamstrings to lift your hips up off the ground.

Step 2: Slowly swing your left leg out to the side and tap your heel on the ground. Bring it back to the starting position on the ball and switch sides, swinging your right leg out to the side to tap your heel on the ground. Engage your arms, legs and core to keep the rest of your body as still as possible.

stability ball exercises squat
Burn Boot Camp/Sofia Kraushaar

4. Stability Ball Squat

*Works your quads, glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors and core.

Step 1: Place the stability ball up against a wall, bracing it against your back (there should be some tension here). With your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, lower down into a squat.

Step 2: The ball will roll with you, providing stability, so squat down as low as possible to deepen the move. Press through your heels to return to the starting position, actively squeeze your glutes throughout the entire movement.

stability ball exercises preacher curls
Burn Boot Camp/Sofia Kraushaar

UPPER BODY

5. Stability Ball Preacher Curls

*You’ll need dumbbells for this! Use whatever weight you’re comfortable with, but if you’re new to this exercise start with 2 – 5 pounds. Works your biceps and brachialis.

Step 1: Begin on your knees, placing the stability ball on the ground in front of you. Lean forward, placing your chest and stomach comfortably on the ball. Reach down and grab two dumbbells.

Step 2: With your arms straight and palms facing out press your elbows into the ball and curl the weights up towards your shoulders. Pause briefly at the top and lower back down until your arms are fully straight.

stability ball exercises locomotives
Burn Boot Camp/Sofia Kraushaar

6. Stability Ball Chest Press Locomotive

*Works your shoulders, triceps, pecs and core.

Step 1: Holding one dumbbell in each hand with your feet flat on the floor, lay your back down on the ball, centering it between your shoulder blades. Bending your arms with your elbows out wide bring both weights up to meet your shoulders.

Step 2: Press through your chest to lift your right arm until it’s straightened, keeping it in line with your shoulder. Quickly bring it back down and switch, sending your left arm up. Repeat this movement in a controlled but quick pace to maintain muscle engagement and fire up the chest.

stability ball exercises shoulder press
Burn Boot Camp/Sofia Kraushaar

7. Stability Ball Seated Shoulder Press

*Works your shoulders, deltoids, pecs and core.

Step 1: Find a comfortable seated position on the stability ball, holding one dumbbell in each hand. Bring the weight up and out until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle.

Step 2: Engaging your core, press both arms up until straightened and then slowly bring them back down to the starting position.

stability ball exercises pushup
Burn Boot Camp/Sofia Kraushaar

8. Stability Ball Push Up

*Challenge alert! This move is a step up from your typical push-up, so take it slow and only do as many reps as possible with good form. Works your triceps, pecs, shoulders, lower back, quads and core.

Step 1: Begin in a push-up position with the stability ball near your feet. Place the tops of your feet onto the ball and adjust as needed so your body is in a straight line.

Step 2: Keeping your elbows close to your chest, release your upper body down and press back up following a typical push-up movement. Take it slow and focus on getting your chest as close to the ground as possible.

stability ball exercises pike
Burn Boot Camp/Sofia Kraushaar

CORE

9. Stability Ball Pike

*Works your rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis and obliques.

Step 1: Begin in a push-up position with the stability ball near your feet. Place the tops of your feet onto the ball and adjust as needed so your body is in a straight line.

Step 2: Engage your core to lift your hips up into the air while simultaneously rolling the ball in towards your center. Lower back down until you return to the starting position and repeat.

stability ball exercises v up
Burn Boot Camp/Sofia Kraushaar

10. Stability Ball V-Up

*Works your rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis.

Step 1: Begin on your back with the stability ball placed between your feet. Squeeze the ball and lift your feet up into the air, simultaneously crunching up with your arms out in front.

Step 2: Grab the ball with your hands and slowly lower your legs and arms back down until the ball touches the ground behind your head. Repeat this same motion, switching the placement of the ball between your feet and hands each time using slow, controlled movements.

stability ball exercises rollout
Burn Boot Camp/Sofia Kraushaar

11. Stability Ball Ab Rollout

*Works your rectus abdominis, obliques and lower back.

Step 1: Begin on your knees with the stability ball out in front of you. Clasp your hands together and plant your forearms firmly into the stability ball.

Step 2: Slowly press your arms out, rolling the ball until your elbows are in line with your temples while simultaneously lowering and lengthening your torso. Engage your core to help roll the ball back in to return to the starting position.

stability ball exercises bicycle
Burn Boot Camp/Sofia Kraushaar

12. Stability Ball Bicycles

*Works your rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, obliques and quads.

Step 1: Begin on your back with the stability ball placed securely between your feet. Lift your legs and bend your knees until they reach a 90-degree angle. Interlace your fingers and place your hands behind the nape of your neck.

Step 2: Maintaining the tension with the ball, slowly bring your right knee in while crunching your left elbow up and over to meet it. Lower back down to the starting position to reset and repeat on the other side.

stability ball exercises stir the pot
Burn Boot Camp/Sofia Kraushaar

13. Stability Ball Stir the Pot

*Works your rectus abdominis, obliques and spine stabilizing muscles.

Step 1: Begin on your knees with the stability ball out in front of you. Clasp your hands together and plant your forearms firmly into the stability ball so that your body is in a diagonal line.

Step 2: Pressing your elbows into the ball, begin to slowly roll the ball clockwise, as if you were stirring a pot. Repeat this same movement counterclockwise to hit all parts of your abdominals.

stability ball exercises mountain climbers
Burn Boot Camp/Sofia Kraushaar

CARDIO

14. Stability Ball Mountain Climbers

*A cardio blast with a side of upper body and core work.

Step 1: Place both hands on either side of the stability ball out in front of you. Extend your feet out behind you, so you’re leaning on the ball in a high plank position with your core engaged.

Step 2: Bring your right knee in toward the ball as far as you can. Quickly switch legs, pulling your left knee in while sending your right foot back. Keeping your butt down and hips even run your knees in and out, all while maintaining your balance on the stability ball.

stability ball exercises sprinters
Burn Boot Camp/Sofia Kraushaar

15. Stability Ball Sprinters

*This is a great way to get your heart rate pumping (especially in small spaces).

Step 1: In a standing position with your feet hip-width apart, grab the stability ball and hold it in front of your chest with your arms out straight.

Step 2: Lift your left knee up towards the ball. Quickly lower and switch, bringing your right knee up towards the ball. Continue this movement at a fast pace, alternating your legs while maintaining form. You should be moving at a fast pace as if you were sprinting.

RELATED: 10 Cool Down Exercises That Can Make Your Workout More Effective

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