Use this exercise ball abs workout to strengthen your core and build an injury-proof physique.

If you don’t already own one of the best exercise balls, consider this your prompt to invest in a simple bit of kit that can deliver long-lasting fitness benefits.

“Because of its inherent instability,” says online PT Luke Grainger, “the exercise ball is so effective because it forces your core to work extra hard. Just try getting into a push-up position, with your hands on the ball, and you’ll quickly realise how difficult it is to simply stay still.

“For this exercise ball abs workout, you’re going to do four supersets. Use the rep counts below as a guide, but whatever your ability try to rest as little as possible when you’re switching from exercise ‘a’ to ‘b’ in each superset. When you’ve completed your reps of exercise ‘b’, rest for 60 secs, then do ‘a’ again – for a total of 3 sets per superset.

“The key for all these exercises is to stay as stable as possible. Keep your abs tight throughout and be honest with yourself: if you start shaking and your form deteriorates, stop the set.”

The exercise ball abs workout

Beginner: 6 reps
Intermediate: 10 reps
Advanced: 15 reps

1a. Exercise ball pike

  • With your hands under your shoulders, rest your shins on the exercise ball
  • Keep your arms fixed and use your core to pull your hips up in the air, without sagging at the waist and losing your back
  • Hold for a few seconds, then slowly roll back out while keeping your midsection strong

1b. Exercise ball crunch

  • With your feet flat and your arms across your chest, slowly roll back over a stability ball until the back of your head is resting on the ball
  • Tuck your chin into your chest and squeeze your abs all the way up, until just your lower back and backside are left touching the ball
  • Keeping the tension throughout, begin to reverse the movement until the back of your head touches the ball again
  • For stability, press your tongue to the roof of your mouth and keep it there for the whole of the set (seriously, it works)

2a. Exercise ball hip extension

  • Begin with your hands and toes on the ground, your back in good alignment and your hips on the ball
  • Now, lift your legs while keeping your arms straight
  • Pause at the top and then slowly lower your legs to the start position
  • Pause just before your toes touch the floor, then immediately go into the next rep

2b. Exercise ball oblique crunch

  • Start with your right hip on the ball, your arms across your chest, your feet split and your torso stretched over the ball
  • Slowly crunch up to the side until you’re almost vertical
  • Pause briefly at the top, then slowly return to the start position
  • Complete your reps, then turn around to work the other side
  • Keep tension in your abs throughout the movement

3a. Exercise ball crab walk

  • With your upper back and head supported on the ball, plant your feet and have your hips up in the air, with your arms stretched to the side
  • Carefully begin to move your upper body and feet sideways, doing your best to keep your midsection, arms and feet from moving out of position
  • Your shoulder will now be off the ball a little and your core will be working like crazy. Pause, then slowly shuffle to the other side. That’s 1 rep

3b. Exercise ball jackknife

  • Begin with your shoelaces and shins on the ball and your upper body in the press-up position
  • Keeping your hips level and your back in alignment, bring your knees up towards your chest
  • Pause, then slowly return to the starting position
  • Don’t let your hips either sag down or raise up – aim for a straight line from shoulders to hips throughout

4a. Exercise ball pass

  • While holding the ball, lie flat on the floor with your arms and legs long and just off the ground
  • Slowly bring your arms and legs up at the same time and pass the ball to your feet
  • Then take your arms and legs back towards the ground
  • Pause just off the floor, then return the ball to your hands and return to the starting position. That’s 1 rep

4b. Exercise ball roll-out 

  • This is one of the very best exercise ball exercises
  • Start with your toes on the ground and your elbows on the ball beneath your shoulders
  • Keeping your hips up throughout, begin to slowly roll the ball away by pressing your elbows forward
  • Pause briefly, then return to the starting position and go again

Photography: Eddie Macdonald  |  Model: Lee McLaughlin (W Model Management)