Build super-strong abs with a circuit you can do right in your living room—no gym required.
Chances are, your gym has a few exercise balls in a corner that rarely anyone uses. Or you have one gathering dust in your basement. Maybe you aren’t sure what exercises to do with them, or maybe you just don’t want to stray away from your routine. But exercise balls can come in handy for many types of workouts—especially for abs.
“A stability or exercise ball is a great piece of equipment you can use to create a dynamic workout virtually anywhere,” Lindsey Clayton, instructor at Barry’s Bootcamp and cofounder of the Brave Body Project, tells Bicycling. “Because of the ball’s soft, bouncy quality, when you exercise with it, it will challenge you to maintain proper alignment, stability, and strength when performing movements. It’s like taking your basic abs moves and kicking it up a notch.”
It makes sense that you’d want to up the intensity of your core workouts, since really targeting all those muscles helps maintain your form and power you up any hills you might encounter.
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That’s why Clayton came up with a six-exercise circuit that incorporates an exercise ball, so you can reap all of its unique benefits and switch your regular routine up a bit and still build a strong core.
How to do it: Perform three rounds of squats with overhead ball hold, mountain climbers, plank shoulder taps with ball on toes, planks to rolling pike, sit-ups, and jackknife ball passes. Rest for one minute between rounds.
Squat With Overhead Ball Hold
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold exercise ball overhead. Send your hips back, then bend knees to lower down as far as possible while keeping your chest up and your core engaged. Press through heels and continue to engage core (and glutes) to return back to the starting position. Complete as many reps as you can for one minute.
With the exercise ball in front of you, start in plank position with your elbows resting on top of it and your core engaged so your body forms a straight line. Bring right knee in toward chest, then return to starting position. Bring left knee in toward chest, then return to starting position. Continue to alternate legs for one minute.
Plank Hands to Elbows
Start in a high plank position with shoulders over wrists, but instead of placing your feet on the floor, rest your shins on an exercise ball. Bend your right elbow to your lower right forearm to the floor. Lower your left forearm to the floor. Extend your right arm, then your left arm back to starting position. Continue to repeat, alternating which arm you start with each time, for one minute.
Plank to Rolling Pike
Start in a high plank position with shoulders over wrists, but instead of placing your feet on the floor, rest your shins on an exercise ball. Engage your core to pull the stability ball toward your chest and lift hips up as you roll the ball forward to your feet. Return to starting position. Complete as many reps as you can for one minute.
Start by sitting on the exercise ball with your feet flat on the floor. Lean backwards while walking yourself out along the ball until your shoulders, upper back, and lower back touch the ball. Engage core and perform as many sit-ups as you can for one minute.
Jackknife Ball Pass
Start by sitting on the floor, holding the exercise ball overhead, your legs straight out in front of you. Lean back and pass ball from hands to feet at the top of the move. Lower legs slowly with the ball clasped between your feet. Return the ball from your feet to your hands on the next rep. Complete as many reps as you can for one minute.