These 5 Ab Exercises With a Ball Will Build Core and Hip Strength

Each move can be scaled for athletes of any level.

You need a stable core for crushing miles, but your leg and hip muscles are also major players in powering your runs. So how about a core workout that will strengthen all of the above? Kara Miklaus, NASM-certified trainer at WORK Training Studio in Irvine, California created this circuit of abs exercises with a physio ball (also called an exercise ball or a Swiss ball) for you.

“Using a physio ball is an advantage in your workouts because it challenges your stability as well as muscular strength,” Miklaus explains. “This requires you to engage muscles not only in your core but also in your legs and hips.” All of these muscles are necessary for stronger, faster miles.

How to do it: Perform each move below for the number of reps based on your fitness level. Beginners complete 10 reps, intermediates complete 15 reps, and advanced athletes complete 20 reps of each exercise. (If it’s a single-leg exercise, hit each leg with the corresponding number of reps.) Complete 4 sets. You’ll need an exercise ball. Each exercise is demonstrated by WORK Training Studio employee Cassie Nitz so you can learn proper form.


With the exercise ball in front of you, start in a low plank position with shoulders over wrists, but instead of placing your elbows and forearms on the floor, rest them on the exercise ball. With feet firmly planted out wide, engage your core and roll the ball out in front of you a few inches, then return to starting position. Repeat.

Plank to Pike

Start in a high plank position with shoulders over wrists, but instead of placing your feet on the floor, rest your shins on the exercise ball. Engage your core to lift hips straight up as you roll the ball forward to your toes. Return to starting position. Repeat.

Toe Tap

Start in a high plank position with shoulders over wrists, but instead of placing your feet on the floor, rest the tops of your feet on the exercise ball. Bring your left leg off the ball, tap the floor with your toes, then return to starting position. Repeat on the right side. Continue to alternate for the amount of reps you chose on each side.

Overhead Crunch

Start by sitting on the exercise ball with your feet flat on the floor. Lean back while walking yourself out along the ball until your shoulders, upper back, and lower back touch the ball. Extend arms out long overhead, with biceps at ears, fingers interlaced. Engage core and keep chin lifted as complete the reps.

Hand-to-Foot Pass

Lie faceup on a mat, holding the exercise ball overhead, legs straight out in front of you. Engage core to lift head, neck, and shoulders off the mat as you bring the ball over your chest, draw your legs toward hands. Pass the ball from hands to feet at the top of the move. Lower legs slowly with the ball clasped between feet. Return the ball from feet to hands on the next rep. Repeat.

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