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Pilates Exercises with the Ball

  • May 5, 2015
  • By Brittany
  • 8 Comments
Pilates Exercises with the Ball

Hi there!  I have some exciting news . . . I am now a certified Spencer Pilates instructor!!  Woo hoo!  I’ve been secretly studying for quite awhile and I finally passed the exam!  In honor of my accomplishment, I have some Pilates Exercises on the Ball.  Check it out!

I recommend warming up a bit first by sitting on the ball and drawing your hips forward and back and side to side.

Seated Spread Leg Forward Fold with a Rounded Back

Pilates Exercises with Stability Ball: seated straddle forward fold

Breathing technique:  Exhale as you fold down, inhale as you come back up

Sequence:

1.  Sit tall on ball with legs wide, toes pointed out in a spread leg or straddle position.  Shoulders are down and hands and arms are relaxed.  Head and neck are in line with the spine.

2.  Exhale and roll down one vertebrae at a time dropping hands to floor and head in between legs.  Surrender your body and let the hands come down naturally.  Allow the back to round.

3.  Exhale and roll back up to start position drawing abdominals in. 

4.  Repeat 4-6 times.

Primary muscles: core and hamstrings

Focus: articulates the spine, stretches hamstrings and lower back, improves posture

T Fold

Pilates Exercises with Stability Ball: t fold

Breathing technique:  Exhale as you fold down, inhale as you come back up

Sequence:

1.  Sit tall on ball with feet hip width apart and flat on the floor, knees bent.  Draw abdominals in and keep head and neck aligned with the spine.  Sit up straight on the ball with a flat back.  Bring hands out to side with thumbs up.  Hips are even on the ball.

2.  Exhale as you fold forward keeping back straight and head in alignment the entire time.  Engage the core muscles are you fold to a flat back position over the legs.

3.  Inhale and come back up keeping abs engaged.  Stay relaxed, focus on the abdominals and keep shoulders away from the ears by depressing the scapula.

4.  Repeat 10 times.

Primary muscles: Core and hamstrings

Focus: Stretches hamstrings and lower back, improves posture. strengthens core

Flat Back Ball Lift

Pilates Exercises with Stability Ball: flat back ball lift

Breathing technique:  Exhale as you fold down to parallel, inhale as you come back up

Sequence:

1.  Stand in classic Pilates stance with toes slightly turned out and heels together.  Lift the ball overhead keeping the core firm and the pelvis neutral.  Keep the arms straight.

2.  Exhale as you fold forward keeping back straight and head in alignment the entire time.  Engage the core muscles are you fold to a flat back parallel position.  The ball and the arms should stay aligned with the head.

3.  Inhale and come back up keeping abs engaged. Squeeze buttocks at the top of the movement and return to neutral position at the top.

4.  Repeat 8-10 times.

Primary muscles: Core and hamstrings

Focus: Stretches hamstrings and lower back, improves posture. strengthens core

Around the World

Pilates Exercises with Stability Ball: around the world

Breathing technique: Inhale lift to begin, exhale as you rotate down and inhale as you come back up

Sequence:

1.  Stand in classic Pilates stance with toes slightly turned out and heels together.  Inhale and lift the ball overhead keeping the core firm and the pelvis neutral.  Keep the arms straight.

2.  Turn torso to the right and exhale as you fold forward over the legs allowing the back to round.  Rotate to the center and then the left.

3.  Inhale and come back up keeping abs engaged. Return to neutral position at the top.

4.  Repeat 3-5 times in each direction.

Primary muscles: Core, including the obliques, and hamstrings

Focus: Stretches hamstrings and lower back, improves posture. strengthens core

Seated Spread Leg Forward Fold

Pilates Exercises with Stability Ball: seated straddle forward fold

Breathing technique: Inhale lift the ribs to begin, exhale as you fold, inhale back to neutral

Sequence:

1.  Sit on the floor with legs spread wide in a straddle position and heels flexed and pressed out.  Place ball in between legs with hands on the ball.  Hands may need to be adjusted during the movement.

2.  Inhale and lift the ribs.  Exhale and fold forward keeping the back straight and head in line with the arms.  Stretch out and relax the neck.

3.  Inhale and come back up. Return to neutral position at the top moving shoulders down the back.

4.  Repeat 5-8 times.

Primary muscles: Core, hamstrings and back

Focus: Stretches hamstrings, lower back and upper back, improves posture. strengthens core

Camel Pose

Pilates Exercises with Stability Ball: camel

Breathing technique: Inhale to start, exhale as you extend back over the ball and bring arms overhead, inhale to come up a bit and bring arms to t-position, exhale to relax, inhale to curl up back to start position

Sequence:

1.  Sit on your knees and align your body with the ball and cradle the ball with your heels.

2.  Inhale and lift the ribs with hands on hips.  Relax.  Exhale and extend back over the ball bringing arms over head.

3.  Inhale and come up a bit. Bring arms out to a t-position.  Exhale and relax back down.  Inhale to curl up back to the start.

4.  Repeat 3 times.

Primary muscles: Quadriceps and core

Focus: Stretches front and back of body

Classic Crunch

Pilates Exercises with Stability Ball: basic crunch

Breathing technique: Exhale as you curl up, inhale as you roll back down

Sequence:

1.  Lay on the floor in a supine position with legs on the ball.  Imprint your spine to the mat and elongate the neck.  Bring the hands behind the neck for support but not pulling on the neck.

2.  Exhale as you crunch up, engaging the abdominals and pulling the navel to the spine.

3.  Inhale as you relax down.

4.  Repeat 8-10 times.

Primary muscles: Core

Focus: Engaging abdominal muscles

Bridge

Pilates Exercises with Stability Ball: bridge

Breathing technique:  Exhale as you lift bottom up to plank position, inhale as you lower bottom back down

Sequence:

1.  Lie in the supine position on back with feet and legs on the ball.  The ball should be tucked close to the hamstrings under the knees.  Keep the spine even and arms relaxed down by sides.

2.  Exhale as you lift bottom up to a plank position keeping a straight line of the body and the gluteals lifted.  Simultaneously straighten the legs so the ball rolls out away from the body.  Do not roll onto the neck vertebrae.

3.  Inhale and lower back down.  The further the ball is away from the bottom, the more difficult the move.

4.  Repeat 6-8 times.

Primary muscles: Hamstrings, gluteus, back and core

Focus: Strengthens hamstrings and lower back, strengthens core, strengthens gluteals

One-Leg Bridge Variation

Pilates Exercises with Stability Ball: one leg bridge

Breathing technique: Exhale as you lift bottom up, inhale as you lower back down

Sequence:

1.  Start in the bridge position.  Relax the neck.  Hands are down by sides.  Feet are on the ball.  Lift one foot off the ball with the toe pointed.

2.  Exhale and lift up to a one-leg bridge.

3.  Inhale and lower back down.

4.  Repeat 5 times, switch legs and repeat on the other side.

Primary muscles: Core

Focus: Engaging abdominal muscles, strengthening back of body, strengthening gluteals and hamstrings.

Partial Rollover

Pilates Exercises with Stability Ball: partial rollover

Breathing technique: Exhale as you lift bottom up, inhale as you lower back down

Sequence:

1.  Lie supine on the mat with legs extended out and toes pointed.  Hands are down by sides and legs are straight.  Place ball in between ankles.  Squeeze inner thigh muscles to create a firm grip on the ball.

2.  Inhale and lift the legs up.  Exhale as you roll into a partial rollover, legs staying in front of the head.

3.  Inhale as legs come back down keeping the neck as relaxed as possible.

4.  Repeat 3-5 times.

Primary muscles: Core

Focus: Engaging abdominal muscles, strengthening back of body, strengthening core, strengthening inner thighs

Readers, are you a fan of using the stability ball?  What’s your favorite way to incorporate it into your workout?

By Brittany, May 5, 2015
  • 8
8 Comments
  • Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat
    May 5, 2015

    Yay, that’s so exciting!! Congrats!! I really need to get a stability ball asap! This looks like an awesome workout!

  • Holly
    May 5, 2015

    I just did your breathing technique and classic crunch on the ball–I like them! Good for you on your new certification–I hope you teach a class!

  • Heather Murphy
    May 6, 2015

    A girl after my own heart! Of course I love Pilates, and have been LOVING exercises on the ball while pregnant! It’s the best.

  • Correy Smith
    August 28, 2015

    Having taken pilates classes with my girlfriend was an interesting experience for me. We went to the best pilates place that she picked out for us. It seemed like there are so many different ways to stretch out the muscles and your body.

  • Rosel
    August 31, 2016

    These exercises are great to do at home. Ideal for those who can not afford Pilates Studio. Congratulations on the article.

  • Ashley
    October 2, 2016

    Hi! I just bought a size 55cm ball today. I’m 5’1. When I sit on it I feel like my butt is too low and my knees are too high? Not sure if I should go up to a 65cm ball? Thanks !

    • FitBritt
      October 3, 2016

      I would first make sure it is blown up all the way. It sounds like it might be needing some more air. You are basically the same height as me. I have a 55cm ball, which works great, but I could use a 65cm too. Try more air first and if that doesn’t work, go up a size.

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