Updated: August 26, 2011

It's billed as the way to make any exercise more challenging, but according to a small study in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, the popular orb is most beneficial when it's your main base of support. When subjects did push-ups with their hands on a stability ball, they recruited more muscles. Doing wall squats with it behind their backs made no difference. If your goal is to build a stronger body, use the ball to work your core, but give it a rest during most other weight moves.

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