How to Do the Plank Exercise on a Stability Ball

Build ab and core strength with this balance ball exercise

Woman exercise on fitness ball, side view
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There are a lot of exercises for ab and core strength. The plank on the balance ball is a modification to the basic plank that raises the intensity and adds more challenge to a fairly simple exercise.

Once you've mastered the basic plank, you can increase the difficulty by performing a plank on a stability ball, also called a Swiss ball or balance ball among many other names. They all refer to the same large, inflatable balls in various sizes found at most gyms.

Originally used for physical therapy, the stability ball helps with neuro-developmental treatment. Its benefits were soon recognized for fitness, and the stability ball began to be incorporated into physical training routines.

Advantages of Using a Stability Ball

Because the stability ball is an unstable surface, when performing the plank exercise on it you will engage more muscles across the entire core, as well as muscles from shoulders, back to toes. Increasing the difficulty of a basic plank exercise is limited—who wants to simply keep adding time to how long you hold the plank position as you pursue a progressive training challenge? However, by using the stability ball, you have an excellent and versatile new way to recruit more muscles without simply increasing the time you hold the plank pose.

The small muscles throughout the body called stabilizer muscles are less engaged in the standard plank, and in the usual exercise routines using only weight machines and even some bodyweight exercises.

In order to maintain a solid posture on the balance ball, you will need to make many small adjustments that require greater muscle activation. This will help train your balance and overall stability. 

How to Do the Stability Ball Plank Exercise

  1. Start by getting into plank position with your forearms on the balance ball and your toes on the floor
  1.  Keep your abs contracted, squeeze your glutes (the butt muscles), and keep your back straight—your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet.
  2. Hold this position for as long as you can, without sagging or arching at your hips.
  • To increase the difficulty, keep feet close together, or lift one foot off the floor. 
  • To decrease the difficulty, spread your feet wide apart for a larger base of support.

Stability Ball Plank Exercise Variation

A variation of this exercise that further increases the difficulty switches the position of the stability ball from your forearms to your feet. It may take a few tries to get into the position the first time.

  1. Start in a plank position, placing your forearms on the floor and resting your weight on them. Place your feet and shins on the stability ball.
  2. Once in the plank position with your feet and shins resting on the ball, tighten your abs and squeeze your glutes. Make a straight line with your body from your head through your feet. Keep your back straight.
  1. Hold this position for as long as you can, at least 30 seconds. Remember to breathe steadily and deeply.

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