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How to Do an Upper Body Stability Ball Workout

Incorporating the stability ball into your workouts is a very effective way to target your core — the stabilizing muscles in your abdomen area that are essential for balance and good posture. When you use a stability ball, you must engage your core muscles in order to respond to the instability of the ball and remain balanced.

The stability ball is an inexpensive piece of equipment you can use for many different types of workouts, including cardio, strength training, and flexibility. This guide will focus on upper body and core exercises. 

Exercises Using Free Weights

The following exercises are done on the stability ball using free weights. When choosing a weight, choose one that is heavy enough to make your last few repetitions more difficult. Choosing weights that are too heavy will make it more difficult to maintain proper form on the stability ball.

Flys

Targeting the pectoral muscles, this exercise also works your glutes and core as you work to maintain a stable position on the ball.

  1. Hold a weight in each hand and sit on the ball. Walk your feet forward until your shoulder blades rest comfortably against the side of the ball.
  2. Lift through the hips to assume a bridge position, holding your abdominals in tight.
  3. Raise both arms straight up, turning your wrists so your palms face each other.
  4. Slowly lower the weights out to the side until your elbows are even with your shoulders. You will want to keep a slight bend in the elbows throughout this exercise. This is one repetition.
  5. Repeat 20-25 repetitions.

Chest Press

Similar to the last exercise, the chest press also targets the pectoral muscles.

  1. Hold a weight in each hand and sit on the ball. Walk your feet forward until your shoulder blades are comfortably against the side of the ball.
  2. Lift through the hips to assume a bridge position, engaging your abdomen muscles and keeping them tight.
  3. Raise both arms straight up, turning your wrists so your palms face forward.
  4. Bend your elbows and lower your arms until your elbows are even with your shoulders. (At the bottom of the motion, your arms should form 90-degree angles.) Then return to your starting position and re-extend your arms above your chest. This is one repetition.
  5. Repeat 20-25 repetitions.

Twists with Weight

This exercise works the oblique and abdominal muscles. It’s important to tighten your abdominals as you maintain the bridge position to correctly execute this exercise.

  1. Holding only one free weight (a suggested 5-7 pounds) between both hands, sit on the ball. Then walk your feet forward until your shoulder blades are resting against the ball. Lift through the hips and assume a bridge position. This is your starting position.
  2. Keeping your shoulders on the ball, slowly twist to the right, holding for a count of five.
  3. Return to your starting position, and then twist to the left.
  4. Complete 20 repetitions on each side.

Exercises Using Resistance on the Stability Ball

This group of exercises is done using your own bodyweight as resistance on the stability ball.

Crunch on the Ball

  1. Sit on the ball and slowly walk your feet forward and lean back until your mid-back is on the top of the ball. Place your fingertips behind your head. This is your starting position.
  2. Lift up into a crunch while contracting your abdominals.
  3. Then lower yourself back down to your starting position, being careful to press through your heels to remain stable. This is one repetition.
  4. Repeat 20-25 repetitions.

Roll Out

The triceps, back, shoulder, chest, and abdominal muscles all work together to perform this exercise.

  1. Sitting on your knees with the ball in front of you, place both hands on the ball with your palms facing each other.
  2. Keeping your knees on the floor, slowly roll the ball forward, fully extending your body.
  3. Contracting your abdominals, use your arms to roll back to the starting position. That is one repetition. Repeat for 20 repetitions.
Hot Tip: Increase the Intensity!

By extending all the way out, you can increase the intensity of this exercise. Conversely, if you find the exercise to be too difficult, start by rolling halfway and then back to the starting position.

Plank on the Ball

This variation on the traditional plank adds the element of instability, which forces you to rely on your core muscles to hold your position.

  1. Sitting up on your knees with the ball in close to your body, roll forward and over the ball until your elbows are on the ball, about shoulder-distance apart.
  2. Slowly lift your knees up, keeping your toes on the floor, so that you are balancing in a plank with your elbows on the ball and your toes on the floor. Squeeze your abdominals in tight as you hold the position, trying to maintain a perfect diagonal line from your shoulders to your toes.
  3. Hold the plank for 30 seconds and then slowly lower your knees back to the floor.

Feel the Burn

Though these exercises target different muscle groups, using the stability ball engages your core muscles with each movement. Rather than ineffectively trying to spot train, these upper body workouts allows you to multi-task and use several muscle groups at once.

This fitness guide details an upper body workout you can do using a stability ball. The workout incorporates both resistance moves and exercises that use free weights.
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