Don’t dismiss the Swiss ball just because it looks like a kid’s toy. The Swiss ball—also called stability ball, fitness ball, balance ball, or exercise ball—creates an unstable surface, which requires your core muscles to work harder to keep you balanced, says Jessica Matthews, an exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. Fire up your core and tone your whole body with the following 25 Swiss ball exercises.
Quick Tip: Stability balls come in different sizes. Select a ball that is appropriate for your height: Under 5’ = 45cm ball; 5’1”-5’ 7” = 55cm ball; 5’ 8”-6’ 2” = 65cm ball; 6’ 3” and above = 75cm ball.
1. Assume a pushup position with your arms completely straight. Position your hands slightly wider than and in line with your shoulders. Rest your shins on a Swiss ball. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles.
2. Without bending your knees, roll the Swiss ball toward your body by raising your hips as high as you can. Pause, then return the ball to the starting position by lowering your hips and rolling the ball backward.
1. Get into a pushup position with your arms straight and your shins resting on a stability ball.
2. Roll the ball toward your chest by pulling it forward with your legs and feet. Pause, then return to the starting position by lowering your hips as you push the ball backward with your legs. Do 10 reps.
1. Lie with your middle and upper back placed firmly on a Swiss ball. Raise your hips so that your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Hold your arms straight out in front of your chest with your palms together.
2. Brace your core and roll your upper body to the right as far as you can.
3. Without dropping your hips, reverse your movement and roll all the way back to the left as far as you can. That's one rep.
1. Grab a five-to 10-pound medicine ball (or dumbbell). Lying faceup on a stability ball with your upper back and head pressed against the ball and your feet together on the floor, hold the medicine ball against your chest.
2. Brace your abs and crunch up until your shoulders are off the ball. Then reach the ball toward the ceiling. Lower it and return to the starting position. Do 12 to 15 reps.
1. Lie faceup on the floor, holding a stability ball overhead with both hands, your legs together and extended straight on the floor.
2. In one motion, brace your core and lift your arms and legs off the ground, placing the ball between your feet.
3. Squeeze the ball with your legs and lower your arms and legs back to the floor. Repeat, passing the ball back to your hands. That's one rep. Do eight to 10.
1. Lie belly-side down with your navel over the center of a Swiss ball. You should be on the balls of both feet, with your hands placed flat on the floor.
2. Brace your abs, and raise your right arm and left leg until they're in line with your body and hold that position for a few seconds. Return to the starting position. Repeat with your left arm and right leg. Continue to alternate back and forth.
1. Assume a pushup position with feet on a Swiss ball and arms completely straight.
2. Raise one knee toward your left elbow, lower, then raise the other knee. Alternate back and forth for 30 seconds.
1. Place your forearms on a stability ball and extend your legs directly behind you; your body should form a straight line from head to heels.
2. Brace your abs and hold for 60 seconds. If you can't make it to 60 seconds, hold for five to 10 seconds, then rest five seconds, continuing for one minute.
1. Hold a Swiss ball behind you and stand so that the ball is pinned between your back and the wall. Place your feet about 2 feet in front of your body.
2. Keeping your back in contact with the ball, lower your body until your upper thighs are at least parallel to the floor.
1. Lie on your left side with your knees straight. Prop your upper body up on your left elbow and forearm. Place both feet on a Swiss ball.
2. Brace your core by contracting your abs forcefully as if you were about to be punched in the gut. Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Breathe deeply for the duration of the exercise. Hold this position for 30 seconds. That's one set. Turn around so that you're lying on your right side and repeat.
1. Rest your upper back on a stability ball and cross your left leg over your right knee.
2. Lower your hips toward the floor. Pause, then press through your heel to return to start. That's one rep. Do eight to 12, then repeat on the other side.
1. Lie facedown on a Swiss ball, hands behind your head, feet against a sturdy object.
2. Squeeze your glutes and lift your torso up until your body forms a straight line. Hold for one or two seconds. Slowly return to start. That's one rep.
1. Sit on your knees in front of a Swiss ball and place your forearms and fists on the ball.
2. Keep your core braces, and slowly roll the ball forward, straightening your arms and extending your body as far as you can without allowing your body to "collapse." Use your abs to pull the ball back to your knees. That's one rep.
1. Place your hands directly under your shoulders and on the sides of a Swiss ball.
2. Keeping your core tight, lower yourself until your chest grazes the ball, then push back up.
3. Perform the "plus" by pushing your upper back away from the ball.
1. Place your head and upper back on a Swiss ball, and lift right leg in the air so that it's in line with your left thigh.
2. Push your hips upward, keeping your right leg elevated. Pause, then slowly lower your body and leg back to the starting position. Complete the prescribed number of repetitions with your left leg, then switch legs and do the same number with your right leg.
1. Lie facedown on top of a Swiss ball so that your back is flat and your chest is off the ball. Let your arms hang straight down from your shoulders, your palms facing behind you.
2. Bend your elbows and squeeze your shoulder blades together, and lift your upper arms as high as you can.
3. Without changing your elbow position, rotate your upper arms up and back as far as you can. Pause, then slowly lower back to the starting position.
1. Lie facedown on top of a Swiss ball so that your back is flat and your chest is off the ball. Turn your arms so that your palms are facing each other.
2. Raise your arms at a 30-degree angle to your body (so that they form a Y) until they're in line with your body. Pause, then slowly lower back to the starting position.
1. Lie facedown on top of a Swiss ball so that your back is flat and your chest is off the ball. Bend your elbows more than 90 degrees with your palms facing up, the thumb side of your hands pointing out.
2. Without changing the bend in your elbows, squeeze your shoulder blades together as your raise your upper arms. At the top of the movement, your arms should form a W. Pause, then slowly lower back to the starting position.
1. Lie with your middle and upper back placed firmly on a Swiss ball. Hold the dumbbells over your chest with your elbows slightly bent and your palms facing out.
2. Without changing the bend in your elbows, slowly lower the dumbbells down and slightly back until your upper arms are parallel to the floor.
1. Position yourself on your back on a Swiss ball so your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Hold the dumbbells straight above your chin, with your arms straight.
2. Lower the dumbbells so that they end up just outside your upper chest. Pause, then press the weights back up to the starting position.
1. Lie facedown on a Swiss ball and hold a pair of dumbbells with your arms hanging down to the floor, palms facing forward.
2. Raise your arms back until they're in line with your body, and pull your shoulder blades down and together. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, then lower the weights.
1. Assume a plank position with your forearms on a Swiss ball.
2. Use your forearms to move the ball in small circles while keeping the rest of your body in the original position. Make 10 circles to the left and then 10 to the right. That's 1 set.