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20 things to do with a stability ball

This stability ball and I have been through a lot.

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We were together during my senior year in college, when I lived in an apartment with only Bella (my mom said it’s good to live alone before getting married because “you should know how to date yourself.” I’d always had roomies before, but ended up loving my little apartment with just Bell and myself), the ball traveled with me to North Carolina to live with the Pilot, to Valdosta with us, in a POD for a year and now to Tucson. 

I spent hours bouncing on that ball trying to get Livi to flip from sunny-side up while she was in my belly (which I think helped!)

used it as a desk chair with the computer

used it to bounce Livi to sleep when she would only nap in my arms

MY OTHER RECIPES


and oh yeah, I use it for workouts, too 😉

When the Pilot said he was going to deflate and store it since Livi doesn’t need to be bounced to sleep anymore, I said, “Noooooooooo!! I need it!”

“You use the ones at the gym.”

“But I like having one here for at-home workouts.”

He put it in the office for me, instead of as a living room fixture like it had been.

The stability ball is one of my all-time favorite pieces of workout equipment because there’s so much you can do with them- you can get an entire workout (strength and cardio) using only your body weight and a stability ball.

Screen Shot 2012 05 29 at 8 10 45 AM

Here are some of my all-time favorite moves:

1. Overhead pass

2. Crunch:

level 1: arms across your chest

level 2: arms out to the sides, keeping elbows in line with your ears

level 3: arms glued to your ears overhead, maybe holding a light weight or medicine ball

2. Oblique reach-back: Sitting up on the ball, learn back and twist to one side, sweeping the arm (on the same side) back behind you, making long sweeping motions. Exhale to rise back up to center, arms overhead. Twist to the opposite side.

3. Plie squat with thigh squeeze: perform a plie squat with the ball on the floor in between your legs. As you rise up and exhale, squeeze the ball, egging your adductor (inner thigh) muscles.

4. Lateral lunge and raise: come into a lateral lunge tapping the ball to the floor, almost directly in front of the bent leg. As you step together, bring the ball up overhead and switch to the opposite side. 

5. Back extension: lay on the ball so it’s in line with your lower stomach and hip bones, feet are on the floor. Engage your core as you exhale and come into a slight back extension- be mindful not to hyperextend. The first time you do these, you will be SORE, so take it easy.

level 1: arms crossed across your chest

level 2: arms out to the sides, keeping elbows in line with your ears

level 3: add a twist. Come up, twist to one side, back to center, and lower. Repeat, twisting to the opposite side.

5. Push-up: the closer the ball is to your ankles, the harder it is.

6. Split squat: be mindful of your front knee and emphasize sinking straight down instead of forward.

7. Plie squat and ball circle: come into a pile squat and hold the position as you engage your obliques and make large circles holding the ball. Repeat to the opposite side until your thighs can’t take it anymore 😉

8. Roll out: the key is to keep your hips in line with the rest of your body- no booties up in the air (ayer).

9. Pike: come into a plank position with the ball close to your ankles. Exhale and come up with straight legs into a pike. Keeping control, bring the ball back to a plank position and repeat.

10. Alphabet abs: while in the plank position, bend your knees and try to “draw” each letter of the alphabet using the ball. Try to make it all the way through, even though I’m usually toast by the letter “o.”

11. Tuck: Same as the pike, but bend your knees instead of keeping them straight the entire time. Bend into a tuck and straighten out to a plank.

12. Squat-together in a circle: this is an easy way to get your heart rate up. Sit on the ball in a squat position, and keeping low, step together all the way around the ball. Repeat going the opposite way.

13. For supine exercises: chest presses, flys, and tricep extensions are great options.

14. Hip raises

15. Plank

16. Hamstring curl: laying on your back, feet on the ball, bring your hips up and bending your knees, roll the ball towards you. For a challenge, try it with one leg at a time.

17. Half circle obliques: laying on your back, “grab” the ball in between your ankles and raise the ball off the floor. twist the ball (making a half circle) and twist the opposite way.

18. Leg raise: grab the ball with your knees or ankles (laying on your back) and exhale as you raise the ball off the floor and lower down. Be careful if you have weak inner thigh muscles and try with a small ball before moving up to the larger ones.

19. Ball bounce: sit on the ball and bounce and bounce. Then using your core, immediately stop bouncing. Repeat.

20. Stretch! This is one of my favorites. I love to lay on the ball and roll back into a deep back arch for a lovely stretch. 

Screen Shot 2012 05 29 at 8 28 11 AM

 Screen Shot 2012 05 29 at 8 21 21 AM

Did I miss any of your faves? What’s one piece of at-home gym equipment you can’t live without?

If I could recommend an essential 3, they would be a stability ball, resistance bands and a jump rope. All inexpensive, don’t take up a ton of room, and can be used to get killer strength and cardio.

Speaking of training, Summer Shape Up 2012 will start June 11th! Mark your calendars if you’d like to join in the fun! I’ve tried the first workout twice now and kicked my booty. My friend from work saw me doing it yesterday and said “what are you doing?! It looks intense!” I really hope you love it.

Have a wonderful day <3

xoxo

Gina

More:

10 ways to lunge

10 ways to crunch

10 ways to plank

Focus On: Stability balls

 

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37 Comments

  1. Claire @ Live and Love to Eat on May 29, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Love this list of ideas – many I’ve never tried before!

  2. Kristen on May 29, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    I am loving these posts!

  3. Anna @ The Guiltless Life on May 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    One favourite of mine – though you can get some funny looks at the gym when doing it! – is the inner thigh squeeze. Straddle sit the ball and then squeeze between your inner thighs. Then hold, then pulse. So challenging!

  4. Maura @ My Healthy 'Ohana on May 29, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    I love these ideas…I only do at home workouts or outdoor running/walking since I had a baby, and this is perfect for me to do during nap time 🙂

  5. Amanda on May 29, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Love this – I have to get one because the gym at the condos where I live do not have one. BTW – I bought ingredients to make a Caprese salad for dinner tomorrow – you inspired me with your Caprese salad from yesterday!

  6. Maria on May 29, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    What brand and size ball do you recommend? I’m in the market for one – mainly to sit on at my office.

  7. Tara @ Sweat like a Pig on May 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I can’t believe your stability ball has lasted that long! I went through two in a year at my last job (I was using it as a desk chair). It’s amazing seeing the look on someone’s face when they try a basic ball crunch for the first time! Ouch!

  8. Sabrina @Work It Ms jackson on May 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I used to use it to bounce Jordyn when she was grumpy. It always made her giggle. And I used as a computer chair too! Now Jordyn loves playing it and tries to steal it from me when I’m trying to use it for crunches, which is my favorite exercise with the ball.

    This post is fantastic! Thank you for the ideas. I can’t wait to use these to create my own workout or incorporate into another workout

  9. Holly on May 29, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    I just have to comment and let you know how much I am loving your blog! I stepped away for a bit, but I have so much respect for the level of balance you have in your blog. You eat healthy, have a passion for working out, but still take time to do dinner/drinks/outings with friends. You make time for your family and enjoy every second. I’ve tried workouts and recipes and have loved them. Thanks for being an such an inspiration for true healthy living!

  10. Stephanie @ Legally Blinde on May 29, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Thanks for this post! You have SO many great ideas, and once again, I really love the descriptions and pictures. I need to remember that I can use my stability ball like a bench for things like chest presses – thanks for the reminder! Can’t wait for the Summer Shape Up 🙂

  11. Stefanie @TheNewHealthy on May 29, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    I LOVE the stability ball! And I’m loving the new ideas in the post. 🙂

  12. Ali @ Peaches and Football on May 29, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    I’ve never done stability ball work. My faves are the jump rope and my heart rate monitor. I have a regular polar for inside exercises and a Garmin for when I take walks.

    Of course, you can never underestimate the power of a good pair of shoes too. They really can help so much depending on the exercise you are doing.

  13. Kerry @ Totes My Oats on May 29, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    I love my resistance bands! I haven’t been using them and need to start again!

  14. Madison @ Pilates Makes You Happy on May 29, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Love this!! Thanks for the ideas!

  15. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on May 29, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I agree, sprawling out over a stability ball to stretch is the best!! I also like to use it for balancing on my knees – if I’m watching TV or something, I’ll kneel on it and see how long I can stay up in balance for.

  16. Catalina @ Cake with Love on May 29, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    5 love all the balls, I don’t own a stability ball but at the gym I used it only for crunches, now I see that the possibilities are endless!! 🙂

  17. Lindsay @ Lindsay's List on May 29, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Love the tips! And I love your top! Lulu??

    • Fitnessista on May 29, 2012 at 3:54 pm

      thank you! yep, scoop neck tank

  18. pluvk on May 29, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    This is great! I had a stability ball for years, but left it with my parents when my husband and I got married. Now that he and I are getting more active, the hubs went and grabbed the old stability ball, but it’s been rolling around for the last couple of days. Now I have a few more exercises to add to the mix! Thanks!

  19. Averie @ Averie Cooks on May 29, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    I was the biggest stability ball fan the year or so I was pregnant and had a newborn. I lived on that thing; bouncing, sitting, rolling. It was my go-to! And it’s a great way to get in all kinds of ab workouts that you can’t get on the floor. I fell out of the habit with my ball but need to get back to it!

  20. Amy@healthyhungryhappy.com on May 29, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    overhead passes are so hard!

  21. Rachel - Momma on Fire on May 29, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    I love this! I don’t know why I never ever thought to do a plank with a stability ball before, but that’s genius! I love my ball. I used it with my son and it’s a part of the family!

  22. Beverly on May 29, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    I want to invade your closet…you always wear the most fashionable workout gear! LOVE that top.

    • Fitnessista on May 29, 2012 at 3:55 pm

      thank you! i have a small addiction since i live in workout clothes

  23. radhi on May 29, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    perfect timing!! thanks so much for this. i was just looking at mine yesterday thinking of how i was neglecting it. can’t wait to try all of these!

  24. Amanda @ Semi-Health Nut on May 29, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I love my stability ball…thanks for the reminder to hop on it! And thanks for the list of moves!

  25. Courtney on May 29, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Love the links you included on 10 more ways to lunge! They are my favorite movement!

  26. Natalie on May 29, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Gina, could you make a similar post for resistance bands? I’ve only used them for rows, stretching and some leg work with them tied around the ankle so I feel like I’m not getting creative enough. But maybe you have already done a post on them and I missed it lol.

  27. Annette @ FitnessPerks on May 29, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    I LOVE doing the pike. It is killer awesome for all areas of the core 🙂 Great ideas!

  28. Amy M on May 29, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    I agree about doing a post on resistance bands.. OOhh.. orrr.. how about a post on a full workout, including strength and cardio using only the ball, resistance bands and a jump rope?

  29. Talia @ Bite Size Wellness on May 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    My trainer used to make me do some crazy things with the stability ball! Thanks for reminding me of so many of them + more.

  30. Lisa on May 29, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    I love the stability ball. Livi will like it too! My son has popped two of mine.

  31. Abby @ Change of Pace on May 29, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    As always, your post is educational! I’ve never tried some of those moves before; I’ll have to give them a whirl.
    About three months ago I started sitting on a ball instead of chair at work. I’m loving it, and I think my back is too!

  32. Nicole M. on May 30, 2012 at 1:36 am

    Where is your top from in these pictures?! Ridiculously cute.

    • Fitnessista on May 30, 2012 at 10:04 am

      thank you! scoop neck from lulu lemon- one of my fave styles

  33. Lisa on May 30, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Love this list! I have mine out and just use it at my computer when I remember. Can’t wait to do these! Thanks.

  34. Chelsa on May 30, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Very cool post. I love my stability ball but the treadmill is definitely my favorite.

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