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8 Total-Body Stability Ball Exercises That Go Beyond Basic Crunches

Of all the weird equipment at the gym (uh, What the Heck Do You Do with a Balance Board?), the big inflatable exercise ball is probably one of the least intimating, right? You bang out a few crunches, perfect if you have lower back issues, and you may or may no take a few "breaks" just sitting and bouncing. But what else? So much—that's what else! Nike trainer, Lauren Williams, who is also an instructor at Tone House in NYC designed this workout to show you just how versatile the stability ball can be. And no, the moves are not just variations on a crunch or plank. In fact, these exercises focus on moves that work other areas of your body—oftentimes the whole darn thing.

How it works: The next time you feel tempted to just take a seat on the stability ball, try these total-body moves that use this versatile tool to work much more than just your abs.

Total Time: up to 30 minutes

You will need: Swiss ball

1. Prone Lower Body Twist

A.

Start in high plank with feet together on the stability ball and hands on the floor.

B.

Keep hands planted while twisting both feet to the right, stacking on top of the other. Your lower body will follow.

C.

Repeat on the other side, twisting to the left. That's one rep.

Sets:

3

Reps:

12-15

2. Stability Ball Push Up

A.

Start in high plank with feet together on the stability ball and hands on the floor.

B.

Bend elbows and lower into a push-up while keeping your legs straight and feet balanced on the ball. Push back up to return to starting position. That's one rep.

Sets:

3

Reps:

8-12

3. Ball Rock Back

A.

Start in high plank with feet together on the stability ball and hands on the floor.

B.

Keeping legs and arms straight, push directly back as you roll your body  backward on top of the ball. Return to plank for starting position. That's one rep.

Sets:

3

Reps:

6-12

4. Straight Leg Raise

A.

Lie on your back with legs straight, heels resting on the ball. 

B.

Press hips up, forming a straight line from neck to feet.

C.

Lift a straight right leg directly up toward the ceiling. Switch sides, bringing a straight left leg directly up. That's one rep.

Sets:

3

Reps:

12-15

5. Hamstring Curl

A.

Lie on your back with legs straight, heels resting on the ball.

B.

Lift hips toward the ceiling as you also bend your knees, squeezing your hamstrings and glutes to curl the ball in toward your glutes. Return to starting position with legs extended. That's one rep. (Next Up: 5 More Moves for Firm, Flexible Hamstrings.)

Sets:

3

Reps:

12-15

6. Back Extension

A.

Lie face down with your chest on the ball, legs extended behind you on the balls of your feet stabilizing you. Place both hands behind your head. 

B.

With control, lift your upper body up, peeling chest off the ball and squeezing your back muscles. Return to starting position. That’s one rep. 

Sets:

3

Reps:

12-15

7. Bridge Thruster

A.

Begin with both feet planted on the floor, knees bent, and back resting on the ball. Your butt should not be sitting on the floor, but hovering. Place hands behind your head. 

B.

Squeeze glutes as your press your hips to the ceiling to bridge pose. Bend at the waist to come down to starting position, never bringing your butt to rest on the floor. That’s one rep. 

Sets:

3

Reps:

12-15

8. Single-Leg Lunge

A.

While standing on your right leg, place left shin on top of the ball. Hands can go on your hips for support or out in front.

B.

Bend your right leg as you lower into a lunge. The ball may roll back slightly. Lunge as deeply as you can, slowly come back to standing. That's one rep. (Now, Take Your Lunge to the Next Level for a Stronger Lower Body.)

Sets:

3

Reps:

12-15

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