Stability balls are the large inflated balance balls or yoga balls that many people attribute to only having use in physical therapy settings or for basic core exercises rather than as a veritable fitness tool for serious lifters.
However, even if your primary focus is on strength training and gaining mass and strength, incorporating the best stability ball exercises into your workout routine has plenty of benefits.
Stability ball exercises won’t necessarily help you make massive improvements in muscular strength and size, but the instability of the ball makes it an excellent training tool to target core muscles and improve functional stability in smaller stabilizing muscles in the hips, shoulders, back, and core.
In this way, adding a handful of the best stability ball exercises into your strength training workout is a great way to improve balance and core strength, which, in turn, can improve your power, functional performance, and injury resilience with heavier lifts.
But, what are the best balance ball exercises? How do you incorporate exercises with a balance ball into your workout routine to maximize the benefits?
In this article, we provide step-by-step instructions for some of the best stability ball exercises to improve core strength, balance, and power:
- Stability Ball Push-Ups
- Stability Ball Push-Ups and Tucks
- Balance Ball Push-Up to Jack Knife
- Stability Ball V-Up Passes
- Stability Ball Single-Arm Chest Press
- Stability Ball Hamstring Curls
- Stability Ball Back Extensions
Let’s dive in!
7 Stability Ball Exercises For Balance, Core Strength And Power
Make sure that with exercises with a balance ball, you use a ball that has been fully inflated so that it is stable and will support your weight safely. If you have a larger body size, check the weight limit of the yoga ball before fully loading your weight onto the ball.
Here are the best balance ball exercises to try for your next workout:
#1: Stability Ball Push-Ups
Stability ball push-ups are a way to introduce instability into standard push-ups, which means that you will need to engage your abs to stabilize and balance your body to prevent yourself from falling off the ball. You’ll see right away that balancing on an exercise ball is not easy!
You will also increase the challenge for your upper body because your feet are elevated above your hands, forcing your body into the decline push-up position where you have significantly more gravity to contend with.
Beginners can make the exercise easier by keeping their ankles and lower shins on the ball as well.
Intermediate and experienced athletes should walk their hands all the way forward so that just their toes are pressing into the ball and the rest of their body is suspended in front of the stability ball.
Here are the steps to perform this exercise on a balance ball:
- Lie on the stability ball on your stomach, and then slowly walk your hands out until just the laces of your shoes are resting on the top of the stability ball. If you are strong enough, you can even lift your feet up so that just your toes are digging into the ball.
- As with a normal push-up, your body should be in a straight line from your heels to your head, with your hips in line with your body and your back straight.
- Keep your glutes, shoulders, and abs engaged as you bend your elbows to lower your chest toward the floor.
- Press through the heels of your hands to return to the starting position.
- Perform 15 to 25 reps.
#2: Stability Ball Push-Ups and Tucks
This compound yoga ball exercise works your entire body while targeting the lower abs, shoulders, and chest.
By placing your feet on a stability ball in this push-up variation, you must engage your abs to stabilize and balance your body to prevent yourself from falling off the ball.
The tuck roll after each push-up further engages your core muscles.
Here are the steps for this stability ball strengthening exercise:
- Get into a push-up position with your arms slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your feet behind you on a stability ball with the laces part of the shoe in contact with the ball.
- Make sure that your hips are in line with your body so that you are in a straight line from your feet to your hands. The further you roll out on the ball so that just your toes are on the ball versus your shins, the harder the exercise will be.
- Keeping your glutes and abs engaged, perform a push-up, bringing your chest as low as you can go without touching the floor.
- Press through your palms to return to the starting position.
- Before bending your elbows to lower your body into the second rep, engage your glutes, hip flexors, and abs to pull your knees forward towards your chest, rolling the ball forward towards your hands. You should be in a tuck position so that your feet and ball are right under your chest.
- Untuck your legs and straighten them back out to the starting position.
- Complete another push-up.
- Alternate between push-ups and tucks, aiming to complete 10 to 20 reps.
#3: Balance Ball Push-Up to Jack Knife
Once you have mastered the push-up to tuck exercise with the balance ball, you can progress to a jackknife or pike position.
To perform this balance ball total-body exercise:
- Perform the push-up on the stability ball.
- After you are pressed back up into the starting position, roll the ball up towards your face, hiking your legs, which means that your knees should stay completely straight and your hips should press upward towards the ceiling. Your body should be in an inverted “V.“
- Slowly roll the ball back, focusing on controlling the motion with your abs, glutes, and hamstrings. Your knees should stay straight.
- Perform another push-up and then continue this pattern for 10-20 reps.
#4: Stability Ball V-Up Passes
This exercise strengthens your abs and psoas, and by squeezing the stability ball in between your legs, you’ll also engage your pelvic floor muscles, your gluteus medius and other hip muscles, as well as your adductors in your inner thighs.
Here are the steps for this stability ball core exercise:
- Lie on your back with your legs fully extended, squeezing a stability ball as hard as possible between your ankles. Your arms should be extended straight up over your head.
- Engage your abs to simultaneously lift your legs and upper body off the floor so that you’re folding your body at your hips into a “V” shape. Maintain a tight squeeze on the ball with your legs to engage your inner thighs.
- In the top position, when your hands meet your feet, pass the ball from your ankles to your hands.
- Slowly lower your body back towards the floor without fully touching it so that your legs are just hovering over the floor and the yoga ball and your arms are reaching back behind you but not touching the floor.
- Raise back up to the “V” position and pass the stability ball back to your ankles.
- Squeeze it as you slowly lower again.
- Complete 12-20 reps.
#5: Stability Ball Single-Arm Chest Press
The chest press is one of the key foundational upper-body exercises.
Performing this exercise on a stability ball instead of a weight bench requires much more core control because you need to maintain balance and stability on a moving surface.
Plus, you have to engage your core, glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles to maintain your body in a bridge position rather than being supported by a weight bench.
Beginners should start with two dumbbells and perform a bilateral chest press.
Although this is technically more difficult in terms of the upper body strength component than a single-arm chest press, the exercise on a balance ball is much more difficult when performed with just one arm at a time.
Having a very imbalanced weight across your chest requires tremendous core activation to not twist and fall off the ball.
It is important to begin with relatively light weights when you are first learning how to do this exercise on a stability ball. Once you have the technique down, you can work on increasing the weight.
When doing this exercise on a yoga ball, the primary focus is not as much on strengthening your chest as when doing a chest press exercise on a weight bench, but rather on challenging your core muscles and posterior chain muscles to stabilize and support your body during a dynamic exercise on an unstable base of support.
Here is how to perform this exercise on a balance ball:
- Sit on a stability ball and then roll out on your back so that the stability ball is only supporting your upper traps, shoulders, neck, and head. Almost all of your back should be off of the ball.
- Bend your knees so that they are at a 90° angle and your feet are flat on the floor. Bridge up your body so that you are in a tight bridge position with your back flat, with your glutes and core engaged.
- Grip the dumbbells (or a single dumbbell for advanced lifters) so that your palms are facing your feet, and bring each one into chest press position such that your fist is hovering roughly over the armpit and nipple on that side.
- Exhale as you press the dumbbell straight up into the air above your body. Brace your core to keep your hips square to the floor, making sure that you are not rotating your body as you press a single weight upward. The tendency for this to occur with two dumbbells is much smaller.
- Inhale as you slowly lower the dumbbell back down.
- Complete 8-12 reps per side.
#6: Stability Ball Hamstring Curls
This is a great posterior chain stability ball exercise. It primarily strengthens your hamstrings and glutes, but it also engages your abs and hip flexors.
Here are the steps for this lower-body stability ball exercise:
- Lie on your back with your legs straight and your heels up on a stability ball.
- Place your arms at your sides with your palms down on the mat.
- Engage your abs and glutes to lift your hips up so that your body is in a straight line from your heels to your head. Your shoulder blades should be down on your mat.
- Engage your hamstrings and glutes, and press your heels into the ball as you bend your knees to bring the ball towards your butt.
- Return to the starting position. Move slowly and with control.
- Complete 15 reps per set.
#7: Stability Ball Back Extensions
We often forget to train our lower back muscles, but this is a great one of our yoga ball exercises if your gym doesn’t have a hyperextension machine.
Here are the steps:
- Roll a stability ball up to the side of a weight bench so that you can hold on to the legs of the bench with your hands.
- Lie on the ball facedown so that the ball is on your stomach and your hips are slightly off the ball.
- Keeping your legs straight, contract your glutes and lower back muscles to lift them off of the ball until they are as high as you can go with your glutes fully contracted.
- Slowly lower your legs back down, keeping them straight.
- Perform 15 to 20 slow reps.
If you want to strengthen your abs for even more core strength, check out our 30-day abs challenge here.