If you thought squats on a Bosu ball were hard…
Stability balls, or Swiss balls as they’re also called, are deceptive in that they might look fun and bouncy, but make no mistake: They are a weapon of muscle destruction (the good kind of destruction, though). Whether using the fitness tool for crunches or as a replacement for your office chair, this thing is no joke. Doing squats while standing on it, however? That takes some next-level balance, bravery, and oh yeah, core strength.
Consider it just another sweat sesh for professional surfer Paige Alms, who posted a video to Instagram of her performing five of the toughest-looking Swiss ball exercises that will make your abs and thighs hurt just watching.
“When on the road traveling, it can be a bit tricky sometimes to fit in a workout,” she captioned the video post. “Being adaptable to your surroundings is key!” Sure, you might not be packing a deflated Swiss ball in your carry-on, but most hotel gyms have this OG piece of equipment lying around, and it’s a surprisingly versatile tool. (Evidence: 8 Total-Body Stability Ball Exercises That Go Beyond Basic Crunches)
“It’s a full-body workout aimed at getting your upper body, core, and lower body working,” says Alms about her Swiss ball circuit. “Even the Superdog can be pretty challenging, but a good way to practice or modify in the beginning is doing it on the ground.” This is basically Alms’ hyped-up version of the Bird Dog, which is still challenging from the stable floor, so it’s easy to see how you’d have to be seriously talented at bracing your core to complete it on a stability ball. (Related: The Bodyweight Exercises Every Woman Should Master for Superior Strength)
There are endless stability ball exercises out there, but Alms says these are still her go-tos for basic bodyweight training. “Cross-body core work where you’re engaging opposite sides is really important for building strength,” she says. Alms adds that she’s a big fan of workouts that get creative, so it’s no wonder you don’t see any traditional crunches or push-ups in her routine.
Ready to challenge your core strength? Try putting Alms’ five stability ball exercises into a circuit for a quick, epic abs burnout.
Advanced Stability Ball Abs Circuit Workout
Swiss Ball Superdog
Begin on all fours, balancing on the stability ball. Slowly extend right arm forward and left leg back to create a straight line from heel to fingertips while maintaining a neutral spine. Return to starting position and switch sides.
Do 5 reps on each side.
Swiss Ball Push-Up
Begin in push-up position with palms on ball shoulder-width apart and feet back so you’re in an elevated plank. (Pro tip: Keep your fingers expanded like a lizard for added balance.) Lower chest to ball, then push up. (Here’s more on how to master the stability ball push-up.)
Do 10 reps.
Swiss Ball Knee Tuck to Pike
Begin in a plank position with palms on the ground, shoulders above hands, and tops of feet on the stability ball. Bracing your abs, bring knees into chest as you roll the ball in, then roll back out to starting position. From there, pike hips up to sky and roll ball in while maintaining straight legs. Roll back out to come to starting position. That’s 1 rep.
Do 8 reps.
Swiss Ball V-Up Passover
Begin lying on back on floor with the stability ball between your feet. Squeeze to hold ball as you lift chest and legs simultaneously, grabbing ball with hands. Extend arms overhead and legs out long, hovering all limbs. Lift chest and legs and return ball to come between feet.
Do 10 reps.
Swiss Ball Balance Squats
*Advanced move alert! Begin standing on stability ball with feet hip-width apart. You can use your hands to or a wall to help balance, as needed. Keep a gentle bend in your knees, chest lifted, and eyes forward. Lower down into a squat, and push through heels to come to standing.
Do 8 reps.
Repeat entire circuit 3–5 times.