4-Move Stability Ball Workout to Strengthen Your Core

This easy-to-use tool packs a serious balance challenge. Here, trainer Kimmy Carlson shares a challenging core workout you can do with just a stability ball.

This easy-to-use tool packs a serious balance challenge.

By Amy Marturana, C.P.T., Self

Strengthening your core is arguably one of the best things you can do to improve your overall fitness. That's because most movements (both in and out of the gym) rely on the core muscles for stability. Think about it: Even when you do squats and deadlifts, which primarily target your legs and butt, you're relying heavily on your core muscles to help you stay balanced and move in a controlled way.

The core is made up of multiple muscles, including your rectus abdominis (what you think of when you think "abs"), transverse abdominis (the deepest internal core muscle that wraps around your sides and spine), erector spinae (a set of muscles in your lower back), and the internal and external obliques (the muscles on the sides of your abdomen). To have a strong, balanced core that can get you through all of your workouts, you need to work all of these muscles.

Fortunately, many exercises will engage your core muscles, whether or not they specifically target them—the squats and deadlifts I mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. But if you want to show these important muscles some extra love, it's never a bad idea. (As always, though, it's a good idea to talk with your doctor before doing a new workout or starting a new fitness routine.)

To give you another great abs workout to add to your arsenal, we asked Kimmy Carlson, certified personal trainer and instructor at Shred415, a bootcamp-style fitness studio in Hinsdale, Illinois, to show us how to strengthen these muscles using just a stability ball.

The workout below includes four moves and works a handful of core muscles all at once. "It does not solely focus on one particular abdominal area, but the core in its entirety, which is a huge benefit for spinal support as well as core stability," Carlson explains. "It requires a lot of the deeper abdominal muscles to be utilized," she adds. She also explains that she organized the workout to begin with a more basic movement (crunches) and gradually advance to the more challenging moves. "This will help you properly [and slowly] warm up the core muscles, which in turn helps prevent injury when you progress to the more advanced movements."

One last thing! Carlson suggests really focusing on form, which is always important but even more so when you're using a tool that throws your balance off kilter, like a stability ball. It's a great way to work on and improve your balance, but does require slow, thoughtful, and controlled movements.

Ready to strengthen your core and challenge your stability? Grab a stability ball and get started.

The Workout


Oblique Crunch — 8 reps each side
Plank Rock — 30-45 seconds
Ball Pass — 8 reps
Pike-up — 8 reps


After doing 8 reps of each (except the plank, which you hold for time), you'll repeat the circuit 2 or 3 times, for a total of 3 or 4 rounds.

Here's how to do each move:


Oblique Crunch

  • Lie on your back and place the ball comfortably underneath your knees with your legs resting on top of the ball
  • With your hands behind your head and your elbows wide, crunch up to the center, then rotate to the left, bringing your right elbow toward your left leg. Rotate back to the center, keeping your abs engaged the entire time.
  • Lower your body back to starting position, stopping when your shoulder blades touch the floor. Immediately repeat.
  • Do 8 reps, and then do 8 reps on the other side.


Plank Rock

  • With your toes on the floor behind you, lie on the ball and place both forearms on the center of it.
  • Engage your abs, glutes, and quads to lift your core off the ball so that you're in a plank position.
  • Since the ball is so unstable, this makes it more challenging than a regular plank. If you need to, lift your hips an inch or two higher to avoid dropping them and arching your back.
  • Move the ball slightly forward and backward (as pictured above) or side-to-side while maintaining plank position.
  • Continue for 30-45 seconds.
  • To make this move easier, simply hold plank position on the ball for 30-45 seconds (no rocking).


Ball Pass

  • Lie on your back, arms and legs extended, and place the ball between your feet.
  • Slowly bring your feet (and the ball) toward the ceiling, keeping your legs straight. At the same time, slowly reach up with both hands, crunching your abs, and grab onto the ball when it reaches the center of your body.
  • After securing the ball with both hands, slowly extend your arms (and the ball) overhead. At the same time, lower your feet back to the floor.
  • Then, pass the ball from your hands to your feet by crunching up and bringing the ball overhead as you lift your legs to meet it above your body.
  • Slowly lower your legs (and the ball) and your upper body and arms back to starting position. This is 1 rep. Do 8 reps.



  • Start on your knees with the ball in front of you and your torso and arms resting on the ball.
  • Slowly roll out with your stomach on the ball and walk your hands out in front of you on the floor. As you do this, the ball will gradually move down your core to the top of your quads and then eventually to your shins.
  • Once your shins are resting on the ball, make sure your hands are stacked directly underneath your shoulders, so that you're basically in a plank with your legs elevated on the ball.
  • Slowly roll the ball toward your core, keeping your legs straight. As you do this, your butt will move up toward the ceiling. Pause for a second at the top. Then, slowly reverse this movement so that you return to the starting position.
  • Move as slowly as you need to and focus on keeping your entire body, and specifically your core, engaged. This will help you stay stable and move with control.
  • Do 8 reps.

See more at: Self


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Health Magazine: 4-Move Stability Ball Workout to Strengthen Your Core
4-Move Stability Ball Workout to Strengthen Your Core
This easy-to-use tool packs a serious balance challenge. Here, trainer Kimmy Carlson shares a challenging core workout you can do with just a stability ball.
Health Magazine
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