Workout Routines

The Total-Body Swiss Ball Circuit

Exercise balls aren’t just for rehab and abs. Try this trainer-approved workout to build muscle, strength, and stability.

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Woman Doing Stability Ball Exercise
AleksZ Photo / Shutterstock

Swiss ball; Stability ball; Physio ball; Exercise ball. It goes by many names, but the big ball that inhabits the corner of every gym is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment at your disposal. It’s not just for your core, either—the ball can be paired with weights or utilized on its own for a variety of upper- and lower-body exercises that will help you build muscle and strength.

“It’s definitely an underutilized piece of equipment,” says Jennifer Romanelli, NASM-CPT, RN, a personal trainer and co-owner of Trooper Fitness in New York City. “There's a stigma around it being a tool for physical therapy, rehab, or low impact ‘easy’ workouts, but there is so much more to it.”

She notes that Swiss balls are great for hammering stabilizer muscles like the adductors, as well as larger muscles like the hamstrings, quads, and glutes—all things required for lifting heavy weights.

“I love combining strength and stability work,” says Romanelli. Working with a spherical object creates imbalances, and when you can recreate those moments where injuries tend to occur, you can strengthen your weak points. “Ask any lifter—if you don't train your stabilizers, injuries will come knocking. Period.”

She notes that specific pains felt in the knees or hips are often due to what directly surrounds the joint. By targeting your stabilizer muscles, you can help your larger muscle groups stay strong and healthy, which allows for bigger lifts.

WORKOUT

Try Romanelli’s total-body Swiss ball workout. “I do this every time I lift,” she says. “Stability is part of my warm up as well as in my supersets—it’s all about the pre-hab, people!”

Romanelli's Total-Body Swiss Ball Workout
Swiss Ball Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
Inverted Rows w/ Feet on Ball 3 10
Chinese Plank Single-Leg Curl 3 12 Per Leg
Plank w/ Feet on Ball 3 45 Sec
Single-Arm Dumbbell Chest Fly 3 12 Per Arm
Lat Plank w/ Ball Between Legs 3 45 Sec per Side
Single-Leg Hip Thruster 3 15 Per Leg
Single-Leg Split Lunge Jump 3 10 Per Leg

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