23 easy & effective ways to work out on an exercise ball


Woman working out with exercise ball

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Looking to tone up on the cheap? Exercise balls can help with that. Not only are they inexpensive, they can help keep your workout routine fresh and exciting.

We rounded up easy, effective exercises that you can do on an exercise ball. The rest is up to you. Choose a few and create your own circuit for a full body sweat fest.

For core and abs:

1. Crunch

Perform this workout just as you would on a flat surface but with the curvature of your lower back resting on the exercise ball. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor at all times. Avoid straining your neck by crossing your arms across your chest. These can be tough at first — especially for beginners — but very effective for building up your abs.

2. Side crunch

Tone up those obliques with side crunches. Lie on your side with the exercise ball curved on your waist. Your feet should be wide apart for balance. Slowly lift your upper body up and down (don’t forget to breathe!) on either side.

3. Ab rollout

This is an advanced move that is guaranteed to fire up your abs. Kneel down in front of the exercise ball resting your forearms on top. Tighten up your core as you slowly roll the ball away from your body until your arms are straight (don't let your hips drop!). Roll back in slowly until your forearms are bent again.

4. Reverse crunch

These are great for tightening up that pouch. Lay flat on your back and spread your arms to the side for balance. Press the back of your legs, including hamstrings and calves, against the exercise ball and squeeze as you slowly lift your legs up towards your chest. Slowly lower your knees back down as you continue to squeeze the ball.

5. T, Y, I

We found this exercise on WedMD: Get on your hands and knees with the exercise ball pressing into your hips and thighs. Keep toes down and knees bent, but lift your knees slightly off the floor. Tightening your abdominal muscles, try to lift your arms out to the sides of your body (into a T position). Then slowly move your arms forward (into a Y position) and then straight out overhead (into an I position). Maintain a neutral spine with strong abdominals and shoulders out of the ears.


6. Planks

Get into a push up position with your shins on the exercise ball. Place your forearms on the floor, keep a straight back and tighten up your lower abs and back. Hold this position for as long as possible, or at least 30 seconds!

7. Jackknife

Lay flat on floor with arms and legs fully extended and exercise ball squeezed between your legs. Crunch up and grab the ball with your hands and slowly lower yourself back down. Crunch back up with legs in the air and grab THE ball with your legs.

8. Low to high woodchop

Stand with your feet hip width apart with the exercise ball on the floor in front of you. Keeping your chest and shoulders back, bend down to pick up the ball and, as you rise, gently twist to the opposite side. Keep your arms straight throughout the whole exercise. Do a set of 15 on the right then switch and do 15 on the left.

For chest and arms:

9. Push-up

Oof, these take a bit of getting used to. The instability of the exercise ball engages more muscles in your arms and chest than if you were to do them on a flat surface. Do them just like a regular push-up but place your hands on top of the ball as your legs are fully extended — go on your knees if you cannot hold yourself up. Slowly lower your body and lift back up. Make sure you are breathing!

10. Push up with legs up

For a push-up variation, put your legs on the exercise ball and your palms flat on the floor. Slowly lower your body and lift back up.

11. Dumbbell fly

Grab your dumbbells, lay back with your shoulder blades resting on the exercise ball and knees bent at a 90-degree angle. The dumbbells should be near your chest and armpits with your palms facing one another. Keep the wrist straight. Slowly lift the dumbbells directly above your chest, and then slowly lower them to a wide arc until the dumbbells are level with your chest. Lift them back up in the wide arc pattern. Details here.

12. One-armed dumbbell fly

Keeping your elbows just slightly bent, pull the handle in and up and slowly lower it down after a short pause. Alternate sides after each set. Details here.