Instability can be the key to a total-body workout. The primary tool? A stability ball, which will put you off balance, adding an extra level of toning to each move. Here are some of great moves that will work the entire body while simultaneously chiseling the core.
Move: Alternate limb back extension
What it works: Lower back, arms, glutes, and hamstrings
How to: Start in a kneeling position with the ball in front of you. Roll up onto the ball on your stomach and place your hands on the floor in front of you. Balance on your palms and toes, and slowly lift your right arm and left leg off the ground while engaging the lower back and glutes. Lower and repeat on the other side (with the left arm and right leg off the ground) to complete one rep.
How many: 3 sets of 15 reps
Move: Booty ball bridge
What it works: Glutes and quads
How to: Start sitting on the ball with knees bent at 90 degrees, and walk your feet forward so you slowly slide down the ball. Your backside should be a few inches off the ground and your mid-back should be leaning on the ball with knees bent. Rest your hands behind your head. Push through the feet to lift and engage the glutes to bring your hips in line with your knees and shoulders. Lower to complete one rep.
How many: 3 sets of 20-30 reps
Move: Chest fly
What it works: Pectorals, abdominals, glutes, and quads
How to: Grab two 5- to 10-lb. dumbbells. Lay with your head and shoulders resting on the ball, with your hips up in a bridge, knees bent at 90 degrees, and feet on the floor. Raise both weights over your shoulders with palms facing in. Keeping the elbows almost straight, lower the weights out to the sides at shoulder level until they are in line with your body and the top of the ball. Contract your chest muscles to return your hands back above you to repeat one rep. This should look like your arms are giving a big bear hug. To make it more challenging, drop one arm down at a time, which will put the weight distribution more on one side at a time and force your abs to work harder! Repeat both sides.
How many: 3 sets of 15-20 reps
Move: Elbow plank
What it works: Abdominals, chest, and arms
How to: Start in a kneeling position with the ball in front of you. Roll up onto the ball on your stomach and place your forearms and elbows on the ball and clasp your hands together beneath your chest. Straighten your legs to balance on your toes and slowly push into the ball with forearms to raise the belly off the ball.
How many: Hold the plank for 30 seconds at a time for 3 sets, working up to 60 seconds per set
Move: Hip crunch
What it works: Obliques
How to: Kneel on the right side of the ball and straighten your right leg out to the right side of your body, with your foot on the floor. With your left hand hug the ball in close to your hip and then push your weight into the ball so the left hip is anchoring the ball down. Start with your left hand still on the ball and put your right hand behind your head. Lower your left side ribs onto the top of the ball and engage your right side obliques to bring you back upright. Once comfortable with the move you can put the left hand behind the head as well because your hip is anchoring the ball. Do 15, and repeat on the other side for one set.
How many: 3 sets of 15 on each side
What it works: Abs, quads and hip flexors
How to: Lay face-up on the floor with the ball between your feet and arms extended overhead. Lift the legs off the floor as you raise the arms and shoulders by “crunching” and engaging the abs. Transfer the ball into the hands and lower the legs and arms back to the floor slowly. Crunch and transfer the ball back to the feet, keeping the arms and legs straight, to complete one rep.
How many: 3 sets of 10 reps
Move: Seated arm sculptors with balance challenge
What it works: Biceps, shoulders, triceps, and abdominals
How to: Sit on the ball with legs bent at 90 degrees and feet on the floor, holding a 5- to 10-pound weight in each hand. Perform biceps curls and do 8 reps with the right foot lifted off the ground, then 8 with the left foot lifted off the ground to challenge and engage your abdominals. After 16 reps, do overhead shoulder presses as well, 8 on one foot and 8 on the other, still sitting on the ball. Do the same series with 16 triceps French presses (hold one weight in both hands straight over your head, then lower the weight behind your neck and raise it back to the sky, while keeping the elbows close to your head.)
How many: Repeat 3 sets for biceps, shoulders, and triceps
NikkiFitness, aka Nicole Glor, stars in seven fitness DVDs including new “Hard Core Abs,” “Fit Travel Workout,” and more. She is also AFAA-certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor at Crunch in Manhattan, yoga instructor, and fitness columnist for Military.com. Learn more about her at www.nikkifitness.com