We love finding new ways to work your core. The powerhouse muscle group provides stability and strength for everything fromlifting heavier weights to dance cardio, so giving it some extra TLC is never a bad idea.
Plus, who doesn’t like working out on a big, bouncy ball? For these moves, grab a stability ball (also called a fitness or Swiss ball), which can be found in most every gym. Just make sure it’s the right size for your height.
In each move below, focus onbracing your core, not just sucking in your belly. Studies show this type of movement can activate more of your core muscles, meaning you build strength in your pelvis, back, and abdomen, not just in your rectus abdominis (a.k.a. your six-pack muscles).
How to use this list: Pick 3 to 4 of these exercises and add ’em onto a cardio day or integrate them into your strength workout. Complete 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
1. Stability Ball Crunch
Let’s start with the basics. Lie faceup on the ball, with ball under low back, feet on floor hip-width apart, and hands behind ears. Brace core, tighten glutes, and slowly crunch upper body upward, raising shoulders off ball and tucking chin to chest. Slowly lower upper body down to return to start. That’s 1 rep.
2. Stability Ball Oblique Crunches
Start in the same position as above. Brace core by pulling navel toward spine. Tighten glutes and slowly crunch up and to the right, lifting shoulder blades off ball and rotating upper body to the right. Lower back down and repeat on the left side. That’s 1 rep.
3. Stability Ball Knee Raise
Balancing on ball with core braced, lift right foot off ground and bring right knee toward chest. Slowly replace right foot, then repeat on other side. That’s 1 rep.
Make it easier: Do this exercise near a wall or column that you can touch for assisted balance.
4. Stability Ball Bicycle Crunch
Step things up a notch: Brace core and crunch up, simultaneously raising right knee toward chest and rotating upper body to touch left elbow to right knee (like a bicycle crunch). Lower foot and upper body at the same time, then repeat on other side. Both sides is 1 rep.
5. Stability Ball Tuck
This one’s a balancing act. Start in a high plank, with wrists under shoulders, core engaged, and top of feet resting on ball. Keep hips level and use core to pull knees toward chest, rolling the ball toward you. Straighten legs to return to start.
Make it easier: Stay in the starting position and hold a high plank with feet on ball for 30 to 60 seconds.
6. Stability Ball Pike
You’ll want to master the move above before attempting this variation. Start in the same position as the tuck. Engage core and pull feet toward arms, keeping legs straight, hiking hips high, and using core to stay balanced. Push ball away and lower hips to return to start.
7. Stability Ball Forearm Plank Jacks
Start in a forearm plank with forearms on ball, legs extended, core braced, and hips level. Feet should be close together. Keeping core tight, jump feet wide and then jump them back together quickly to return to start.
8. Stability Ball Hip Thrust
This move allows your legs to get into the action—you’ll feel it in your hamstrings and glutes. Lie faceup on floor with legs nearly straight, heels resting on ball, hips lifted off floor. Allow arms to rest at sides. Engage core and pull ball toward you by bending knees. Squeeze glutes, hamstrings, and continue to brace core. In one fluid movement, extend legs to return to start.
Make it easier: With knees bent, raise then lower hips off ground, squeezing glutes and engaging core.
9. Stability Ball Hands-to-Feet Pass
Get ready to feel the burn in those lower abs. Lie faceup with legs extended and arms stretched overhead, holding ball between hands. Crunch up, engaging core and lifting shoulders, arms, and straight legs all at once. With arms and legs lifted, pass ball from hands to feet, squeezing thighs and feet together to hold ball in place. Lower hands, feet, and torso. Repeat, this time passing ball back to hands. That’s 1 rep.
10. Stability Ball Wall Side Crunch
You’ll need to be next to a wall for this exercise. Start with right side on ball, with legs extended so feet touch wall to help with balance. Place hands behind ears and brace core. Do a side crunch by drawing left elbow up, engaging obliques. Lower to return to start. After 8 to 12 reps, switch sides.