Easy Exercise Ball Workout for Beginners

This exercise ball workout will help beginners build strength and flexibility. It is also useful as a warm-up for a more extensive routine. Each exercise in this exercise ball workout is accompanied by brief instructions and a link to more detailed instructions. Use the links for any unfamiliar exercises.

Do make sure your ball is not too big or small. Check on how to size your exercise ball. It is always OK to have the ball close to a wall or solid chair that you can use to aid your balance.


Knee Folds on the Exercise Ball

Women sitting on exercise balls
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Excellent for improving balance, this exercise will help use your abdominal and back muscles to stabilize the position of your spine and pelvis on the ball. If you keep your legs parallel, it will engage the inner thighs; and if you go for a deep crease at the hip as you lift your knee, you will begin to differentiate the movement of the leg from the hip, which is important for efficient movement.

Sit on the ball with your legs parallel, feet flat on the floor, toes pointing forward.

Sit up on your sit bones with your spine in neutral (3 natural curves are present).

Keep your pelvis balanced and stable as you lift one knee, taking the foot away from the floor.

Replace the foot on the floor. Change sides.

3 Sets.


Shoulder Stretch on the Exercise Ball

Young Man Stretching his Arm
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Use this exercise to stretch the back of the shoulder and challenge your abs and legs to keep you stable on the ball.

Sit on the ball with your legs parallel, toes forward.

Extend your right arm straight in front of you.

With your left hand, grasp the underside of the upper right arm just above the elbow and gently pull your right arm across your chest.

Keep your shoulders down and your chest open.

Hold the stretch 5 to 10 seconds. Switch sides

2 Sets.


Chest Lift on the Exercise Ball

Mature woman doing sit-ups on fitness ball
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Chest lift is a great abdominal exercise. It works the upper and lower abs areas. You will also have to use your legs, and your glute (butt) muscles to stay stable.

Sit on the ball.

Walk your feet out and pull your abs in and up to roll down on the ball so that your back is supported by the ball. You will probably be a little less than parallel to the floor.

Put your hands behind your head, elbows wide.


Exhale: Pull your abdominal muscles in deeply to curl your head and upper spine up. Do not tuck your pelvis. Leave your shoulders down.

Inhale: Return to start position.

Repeat 3 to 6 times.


Bridge on the Exercise Ball

Bridge on an Exercise Ball
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The bridge on the ball tones your abdominal, back, butt, and leg muscles. It will also help you become more conscious of your alignment.

Lie on your back with your legs in a tabletop position, calves on the ball.

Your spine is neutral (with a slight curve at the low spine). Arms are along your sides.

Keep legs parallel. Flex your feet. Send energy through your legs as you straighten them, and using your abdominal muscles to stabilize,  lift your hips up so that your weight rests between your shoulder blades and your body is in a long diagonal line. The ball will roll along your legs as you lift.

Shoulders down, backs of the arms press the mat.

Hold for a breath cycle.

Fold the knees and hips to take your hips back to the mat.

3 Sets


Plank on the Exercise Ball

Woman working with trainer in gym
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Now you add upper body strength to this exercise ball workout.

Kneel with the ball in front of your hips.

Place your belly on the ball as you reach over to get your hands flat on the floor shoulder-width apart. Walk your hands out, body supported by the ball until the ball is under your low belly.

Stabilize your upper body -- chest open, shoulders down, belly lifted -- and raise your legs off the floor. Legs are straight and together.

Hold your plank position with your body in a long line from shoulder to ankle.

10 - 30 seconds.

Rest and repeat 2 times.


Push Up on the Exercise Ball

Mature woman doing pilates exercise on fitness ball
PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou / Getty Images

Push up builds arm and shoulder strength and requires more core strength as well.

Take your plank on the ball position (above).

Walk your body out so that the ball support is under your hips. The further out you go, the harder the exercise. Be careful.

Position your hands directly under your shoulders. Fingertips point forward.


Exhale: Bend your elbows back along your sides (not flared) to lower your body in a line. This is a Pilates push up arm position, not military style.

Inhale: Push into the floor to come up. Keep the integrity of the legs and torso position.

3 - 6 Sets.

By Marguerite Ogle MS, RYT
Marguerite Ogle is a freelance writer and experienced natural wellness and life coach, who has been teaching Pilates for more than 35 years.