10 Swiss ball exercises

Bouncy balls that can help you tone up? Find out how here!
Person exercising with a Swiss ball
Personal trainer Caroline Sandry gives us her tips on how to make the most of Swiss balls...

Do you remember having a 'space-hopper' when you were a kid? Have you seen a very similar object lurking in the corner of the gym? Read on to find out how these overgrown balls can tone and sculpt your body like never before!

The Swiss ball is a relatively new addition to the gym, and many people are either unsure of what to do with it, or scared of looking foolish on it or even falling off it! But this ball is no passing trend, and you would be wise to make friends with it as it is an amazing exercise tool with many benefits.

When working out on the ball, which is unstable, your body needs to recruit additional muscles in order to stay balanced. This means that, for example, if you perform a bicep curl whilst sitting on the ball, your body will recruit your deep stabilising abdominal muscles (also known as core muscles), thereby toning your tummy while you tone your arms.

In addition to sculpting and toning the body, balance training is an important part of an exercise regime, as it can improve the quality of your day-to-day living and reduce the risk of injury through falls.

Top 10 exercises for Swiss ball beginners

Ball Squats
  1. Stand with the ball between yourself and a wall, with your lower back against the ball and your feet slightly in front of you, shoulder width apart.
  2. Leaning against the ball for support, slowly lower your body down the wall bending the knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Slowly push yourself back up to a straight position. Repeat up to 10 times.

Pelvic Clocks
  1. Sit up tall on the ball, feet flat on the floor.
  2. Slowly gyrate the hips and pelvis using your tummy muscles to create a circling movement keeping the feet still.
  3. Circle 3 times to the left and 3 to the right.

Ball Crunches
  1. Lie on top of the ball with your toes against the wall for stability and your lower back resting on the ball, hands supporting your head.
  2. Inhale and recline head and shoulders back, then exhale and pull your tummy in as you lift your head and shoulders crunching forward.
  3. Inhale to return to start position and exhale to crunch forward 10 times.

Arm Circles
  1. Lie on the floor feet up on the ball and knees bent to a right angle.
  2. Gently pull your tummy flat to stabilise the ball.
  3. Take your arms up towards the ceiling and, keeping the ball still and the tummy flat, slowly take the arms behind you and make large circles in both directions, using a full range of motion. Repeat 4 times each way.

Seated Single Leg Raise
  1. Sit on top of the ball, feet flat on the floor and hip width apart.
  2. Pull your tummy in and lift one leg off the floor while trying to keep the ball still and hips level.
  3. Alternate legs, lifting them slightly higher as you gain confidence.

Bicep Curls
  1. Sit on top of the ball with a weight in each hand, arms down by your sides, palms facing inwards.
  2. Slowly bend your elbows and rotate your palms bringing the weights up to shoulder height - palms facing your shoulders.
  3. Slowly lower the weights back down and repeat 10 times.

Butt Toners
  1. Lie on your back with your heels up on the ball, knees bent to right angles and arms along the floor for support.
  2. Squeeze your abs and your bottom to lift your hips up off the floor without moving the ball.
  3. Repeat 10 times.

Back Extension
  1. Kneel on the floor, toes against the wall for support, leaning on the ball which is under your abs (between hips and ribs).
  2. Place the back of your hands flat against your forehead and relax forward over the ball.
  3. Exhale and extend head and shoulders up straightening the spine.
  4. Inhale to lower down and repeat 6 times.

Pec Flys
  1. Lie on the ball with knees bent and a weight or tin of food in each hand.
  2. Raise your arms above your chest, palms facing each other, hands above shoulders.
  3. Inhale and open arms out to the side.
  4. Exhale and squeeze the arms back up to position 2. Repeat 10 times.

Leg Stretch
  1. Sit up tall on the ball with right leg bent and left leg out straight.
  2. Flex left foot (lift toes) and reach your arms up overhead.
  3. Slowly fold forward from the hips bringing your arms down towards your toes to stretch the back of the left leg and hold for 15 seconds.
  4. Repeat same steps with the right leg.