6 Stability Ball Exercises for Beginners

side view of woman using exercise stability ball
You can enhance your exercises by using a stability ball!

by Steven Auger

Many gym-goers like to use fitness-focused gadgets to enhance their exercise routines. For instance, jump ropes, medicine balls, and dumbbells are all tools that can help maximize your workouts!

But what about that big, round, bouncy ball that looks like it belongs in a child's playroom? Known as a stability ball, this is another useful gym tool that can be used many different ways. Stability ball exercises challenge your balance and force your body to fire up those core muscles — making it a great addition to any routine! Feeling adventurous? Try a couple stability ball exercises for a change of pace next time you visit the gym.

Choosing Your Stability Ball

If you've been itching to try working out with a stability ball but you're not sure how to select the right one for you, start with your height. When you sit on the ball, your knees should form a right angle while your thighs run parallel to the floor. A properly sized stability ball should allow you to sit at a desk as comfortably as a typical office chair does.

Ready to get started? Here are six effective (and fun) stability ball exercises to try.

1. Squat to Ball Overhead

You can never go wrong with squats. To perform this particular movement, hold the ball at chest level with your feet positioned slightly wider than the hips. Now lower yourself into a wide squat and touch the ball to the floor. To complete a repetition, rise and raise the ball overhead. This exercise targets your chest, arms, shoulders, and legs.

2. Crunches

If you're looking to work those abdominal muscles, crunches are a good place to start. To begin, sit upright on the ball with your hands near your ears and walk your feet out until the ball rests under your middle back.

Keeping your knees bent at a right angle, lift your body to a 45-degree angle (or as close as you can) exhaling as you lift. Now return to the starting position to complete one repetition.

3. Knee Tucks

For a more challenging core workout, try knee tucks. First, assume a plank position by resting your hands flat on the floor with your knees on top of the ball. Then bend your knees toward your chest, pulling the ball in until your shins are positioned on top of the ball. Exhale through the movement and return to the starting position to complete one rep.

4. Reverse Back Extensions

You can effectively target your back with one of our favorite stability ball exercises! To complete this exercise, lay with your stomach on the ball, keeping your hands on the floor. Then roll forward until your hips are on top of the ball and the front of your body is in a plank position.

Lift your legs off of the floor until they form a straight line with the rest of your body. Then squeeze your legs together before placing them back on the floor.

5. Lunges

Adding a stability ball to your lunge routine is a great way to mix things up! First, place the top of your left foot on top of the ball. Keep your right foot flat on the floor and your right knee slightly bent. Balance yourself by keeping your arms out to the side or reaching forward, ensuring your arms in line with your shoulders.

Now, with your core engaged, slowly bend your right knee — hold the position for a moment — and then straighten your right leg to complete the rep. Continue for a few more repetitions before switching sides.

6. Pushups

Pushups are great for exercising the chest and triceps. Why not enhance the movement by using a stability ball? To begin, assume a plank position on the ball with your hands flat on the floor. Lower your upper body toward the floor and hold for three seconds. Then push yourself back up to the starting position. Your head should remain in line with the spine throughout the exercise.

If you want to use the stability ball as a stretching prop after an intense workout, try reclining with your back on the ball to lengthen the front of your body. As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.