Pilates ball, exercise ball, sports ball, physio ball… Whatever you want to call it, it’s time to start using it!
It’s been lingering in the corner of your living room for well over a year. Occasionally it rolls around a bit, gets in the way of the vacuum cleaner, or provides a seat for someone when the couch gets overcrowded. It’s even been used as a foot rest at times.
Who knew there were so many uses for a Pilates ball? Of course, its main function is a workout tool, as it helps to provide an unstable surface for a number of exercises. It’s this instability that demands more muscle engagement, particularly in the core and glutes, as you have to work to keep your balance, therefore increasing the intensity of an exercise.
Personal trainer Stephanie Whitehead shows us how to use a Pilates ball for toning up:
Knee tucks with pike
- Great for: Core
Place feet on the ball and hands on the floor, looking ahead. Pull knees up to your chest, return to the start position, and then lift your bum high with your legs straight and head down before again returning to the start position. Aim for 6 reps.
Top tip: Pick the right ball for YOU! When sitting on the ball, feet should be flat on the floor, with your knees at a 90-degree angle.
Read more: 7 ways to get washboard abs & toned tummies
Lunge on ball
- Great for: Glutes, quads, hamstrings and improving balance
Standing on one leg, put your back foot on the ball. Lunge down as close to the floor as possible, keeping torso upright. Move ball back with your leg. Press down on the ball when pulling the ball in to engage hamstrings. Repeat 8-12 times on each leg.
Top tip: Keep weight-bearing knee in-line with your toes.
Single leg with oblique crunch
- Great for: Obliques and abs
In a plank position (hands on the floor, feet on the ball), take one leg off the ball and bring your knee towards your elbow. Place foot back on the ball and repeat on the other side. Aim for 8 reps on each side.
- Great for: Hamstrings and glutes
Start from a glute bridge position – feet on the ball, with your back on the floor – and get your hips as high as you can with your bum squeezed tight. Pull ball towards your bum with your feet and then return to glute bridge position on the ball. Repeat 8-10 times.
Top tip: Try with a single leg for the ultimate burn!
Press-ups with rollout
- Great for: Chest, triceps and core
Perform a press-up with your feet on the ball making sure that you maintain a good neutral plank position throughout. Once you have completed your press-up, push your body back while keeping your core engaged and return to start position. Aim to perform between 5-8 reps.
Hand to feet ball passes
- Great for: Upper and lower abs, lower back and inner thighs
Lie on the floor with the ball between your legs and arms above your head. Squeeze the ball as hard as you can to engage inner thighs and raise the ball to your midriff while reaching up with your upper body to take the ball in your hands. Lower legs as upper body goes back down to the floor and repeat. Both arms and legs should be off the floor at all times. Keep lower back pressed to the floor. Aim for 8-10 ball reps.