Free Exercise Ball Workouts

Tamsen Butler
A group of adults are indoors in a fitness center working out with exercise ball

Exercise balls decrease your body's stability, increasing the effort required to complete exercises. That's why they often go by another name - stability balls - and why fitness enthusiasts love them.

Core Workouts

Ab workouts on an exercise ball can be more effective than mat workouts. These instructions will help you get the most out of your exercise ball ab workout:

Trunk Curls

Exercisers who are familiar with traditional crunches will have no problem doing curls on the stability ball, making this move appropriate for all exercise levels (including beginner). Do 8-12 repetitions to start:

  1. Support the middle of your back on the ball.
  2. Cross your arms behind your head and keep your feet on the floor. Advanced exercisers can hold a weight in their hands in front of the chest.
  3. Curl your torso using your stomach muscles to lift shoulders and upper back.
  4. Return to starting position.
  5. When performing this exercise be careful not to pull with your head and neck muscles.
Ab Workout

Oblique Curls

This exercise is appropriate for all fitness levels and targets the sides of the abs. Do 8-12 repetitions to start:

  1. Support the middle of your back on the ball.
  2. Cross arms across your chest and keep your feet on the floor.
  3. Curl upper body up but towards the left leg.
  4. Return to starting position.
  5. Repeat to the right side.
Group on fitness balls in exercise class

Side Curls

This move is a little more advanced than the moves above and requires substantial stability. Do 8-12 repetitions to start:

  1. Lie on your side with hips and waist supported by the ball.
  2. Bend your lower leg and stretch the top leg.
  3. Use your upper arm to stabilize your balance.
  4. Lift your upper body while keeping your hips stable and lower body stationary.

Upper Body Ball Workout

Stability balls aren't only for abs - they can be used to help strengthen the upper body as well.

Push-Ups

A push-up on a stability ball requires substantial control and strength. Do 8 - 12 repetitions to start:

  1. Drape your body across the ball so that your thighs are on top of the ball and your hands are on the floor.
  2. Walk your hands out so that you're in a plank position with your legs straight, knees on top of the ball.
  3. Bend your elbows to lower your upper body to the floor.
  4. Straighten your elbows back out to push your torso back up into plank position, careful not to lock your elbows at the top.
Mature adult man working out at Personal training gym

High Plank

This advanced move targets the chest, shoulder, and arm muscles in addition to the core. Try holding the plank for 30-60 seconds before releasing.

  1. Place your hands on the ball, palms down.
  2. Extend your legs behind you to where you are in a high plank pose with your hands upon the ball.
  3. Hold this pose without rounding your back or slumping your shoulders forward.
  4. If you want an additional challenge, raise one leg behind you.

Triceps Kickbacks

This is an excellent beginner's exercise, training the neuromuscular system to prepare for weighted triceps kickbacks eventually. Do 8 - 12 repetitions to start:

  1. Kneel with the exercise ball behind you.
  2. Grasp the ball with one hand on either side, wherever it's comfortable.
  3. Lift the ball as high as possible behind your back.
  4. Lower back to starting position.

Lower Body Ball Workout

The stability ball is well-suited for lower body exercises.

Wall Squat

Many people find a wall sit with a ball is easier on their back than without the ball. This is a good option for beginners. Do 8 - 12 repetitions to start:

  1. Position your body so that the middle of your back is holding the exercise ball in place against the wall and your feet are shoulder-distance apart.
  2. Bend your knees into squat position as if you were about to sit in a low chair (knees bent at 90 degrees) and let the ball roll up your spine as you lower your body.
  3. Return to the starting position.
Exercise Ball Squat

Back Extension

This move helps strengthen the erector spinae muscles of the back. Do 8 - 12 repetitions to start:

  1. Lower to your knees and rest your torso on the ball.
  2. Put your hands behind your head.
  3. Lift your chest off the ball so that your torso is straight.
  4. Return to starting position.

Bent Knee Bridge

This move is good for the glutes and hamstrings, which are important muscles for lower body strength. Do 8 - 12 repetitions to start:

  1. Lie on your back with your arms out to the sides, knees bent at a 90 degree angle with calves resting on top of the exercise ball.
  2. Pushing through your heels, lift your butt and hips off of the floor until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  3. Lower to the starting position.
Young woman exercising at home with fitness ball

Frog Jump

This move will get your heart pumping. Do 5 - 8 repetitions to start:

  1. Stand behind the exercise ball.
  2. Squat down and put one hand on either side of the ball.
  3. Jump as hard and as high as you can, simultaneously lifting the ball above your head with straight arms. Straighten your legs and point your toes on your way up.
  4. When you land, squat down to set the ball down on the floor again.
  5. Return to standing position behind the ball.

Partner Stability Ball Crunches

Sit in crunch position with your feet touching the feet of your partner for this move that requires teamwork and coordination. This is suitable for all fitness levels. Aim for 8-12 repetitions to start.

  1. Both people descend to the floor, keeping knees bent and feet on the ground. One partner holds the ball above their head.
  2. Sit up while one partner tosses the ball to the other partner.
  3. The other partner catches the ball as both people drop back down.
  4. Repeat, tossing the ball back and forth.

Weighted Exercises

Any weighted exercise you typically do on a bench can be done on a stability ball. The reduced stability will increase the effort needed, raising the intensity of the exercise.

Chest Press

A move that is typically done on a stable bench becomes more challenging when done on a stability ball. Aim for 8-12 repetitions to start.

  1. Lie on the ball with your back. Maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Your knees are bent and your feet are firmly planted on the ground.
  2. Grasp the hand weights or barbell with overhand grip in both hands. Center the weights or bar over your nipple line.
  3. Squeezing your shoulder blades together, lower the weights down toward your chest, bending your elbows.
  4. Push the weights back up, straightening your arms.
Woman using dumbbells

Biceps Curls

Sitting upon a stability ball while doing biceps curls recruits your core muscles for balance. This exercise is suitable for all fitness levels. Aim for 8-12 repetitions to start.

  1. Sit on the ball with your feet firmly planted on the ground.
  2. Grasp the hand weights in your hands with an underhand grip.
  3. Squeeze your biceps as you bend your elbows to bring the weight up toward your shoulders.
  4. Release, resisting the decline of the weights.
  5. Repeat.
Woman exercising at home

Sample Stability Ball Workout

You can get a full-body workout with a stability ball. Start with a warm up and be sure to cool down and stretch afterward.

  1. While holding the ball above your head with straight arms, march (beginner) or do high knees for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.
  2. Squat while holding the ball in front of you, palms facing inward for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest. As you squat, push the ball out in front of you.
  3. Do trunk curls (weighted or unweighted) for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.
  4. Do oblique curls for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.
  5. Do back extensions for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.
  6. Do frog jumps for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.
  7. Hold a wall squat for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.
  8. Do a bent knee bridge for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.
  9. Do a weighted chest press for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.
  10. Do weighted biceps curls for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.
  11. Do triceps kickbacks for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.
  12. Do a high plank for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.
  13. Do push-ups for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.
  14. Start back at Step #1 and go back through - this should take around 30 minutes total, including warm up and cool down.

A Varied Workout

Using an exercise ball can help tone and trim your body while keeping boredom at bay. With so many different moves to perform, you're able to constantly challenge your body, allowing you to reach your fitness goals instead of remaining stagnant. Take advantage of the many free resources available and you'll be well on your way to a healthier, stronger physique.

Free Exercise Ball Workouts