Little Ball, Big Results: Essential Moves For the Mini Exercise Ball

We love versatile fitness tools, especially ones you can fold up and fit in your pocket, like the mini exericse ball. This must-have ball inflates easily with a straw to a diameter of seven to 10 inches depending on the desired firmness. You can easily deflate the ball too. And once flat, it's easy to pack, making it perfect for traveling.

There are so many exercises you can do with these miniballs, but here are seven of our favorite moves.

Low-Abs and Inner-Thigh Squeeze

This stability exercise is a great move for firing up the inner thighs and abs.

  • Lie on your back with your hips and knees at 90-degree angles. Place the ball between your knees.
  • Exhale, pull your abs to your spine, and squeeze the ball with your thighs. Hold the squeeze for a count of three, and then release.
  • Work the abs even more by lowering your heels toward the floor as you exhale and returning to the starting position as you inhale.
  • Only lower the legs as far as you can while keeping your back in contact with the mat.
  • Do 15 reps for a set, and do two to three sets.
Source: POPSUGAR Studios

Upper-Ab Crunch

The instability of the ball increases the work of a basic crunch, making it feel more concentrated in the upper abs.

  • Lie on your back with your feet together and knees opened in a butterfly position.
  • Place the ball at the bottom of your shoulder blades, and then place your hands behind your head.
  • Exhale, pulling your abs to your spine, and contract your upper abs as you perform a crunch. Continue this motion with small, concentrated pulses.
  • Do 25 pulses for a set, and do two to three sets.
Source: POPSUGAR Studios

Ab Curl

The strategic placement of the ball allows you to focus the toning work on those hard-to-reach middle abs.

  • Start sitting, and place the ball at your low ribs. Then lean back, so your torso is almost parallel to the floor. Place your hands behind your head, keeping your elbows wide.
  • Exhale, pulling your abs to your spine while pressing the low ribs into the ball to perform a curl. The movement is small but concentrated.
  • Inhale, and lower your chest without arching your back. Repeat the crunch with each exhale.
  • Do 25 reps for a set, and do at least two sets.
Source: POPSUGAR Studios

Chest Stretch

This simple stretch is perfect for opening up the front of your body after doing ab work or after a day hunched over your computer's keyboard.

  • Lie on your back with your feet together and knees opened in a butterfly position.
  • Place the ball at the bottom of your shoulder blades, and then place your hands behind your head.
  • Arch slowly over the ball, and hold this stretch for five to 10 slow, even breaths.
  • Repeat this relaxing stretch for a total of three reps.
Source: POPSUGAR Studios

Bridge and Squeeze

Adding the ball at the knees works the inner thighs and ensures good leg alignment.

  • Start on your back with your feet on the floor, about 12 to 16 inches from your glutes, and the ball between your knees.
  • Push your feet into the floor to lift your pelvis into a neutral bridge position. You should be able to see your knees, so don't overarch your spine.
  • Maintain this position, squeeze that ball 20 times, and return to starting position. This completes a rep.
  • Five reps makes a set; do two to three sets.
Source: POPSUGAR Studios

Bridge on Ball

Take it up a notch, and try this bridge variation to really tone your hamstrings and glutes.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet about 12 inches from your butt. Put the ball under your feet.
  • Exhale, press your feet into the ball to lift your pelvis, and come into a bridge, but do not overarch your back.
  • Inhale, lowering your pelvis to the mat. Use your abs to keep the motion as smooth and controlled as possible.
  • Do 15 reps to complete a set, and do at least two sets.
Source: POPSUGAR Studios

Inner-Thigh Squeeze

This move tones the inner thighs while working the abs, too.

  • Lie on your right side with legs in line with your shoulders and the ball at your ankles.
  • Keep your abs engaged as you lift your legs thee to five inches off the ground.
  • Maintain this position, and squeeze the ball 20 times.
  • Continue squeezing the ball, and lift your legs one inch higher 10 times to work your waist.
  • Repeat on the other side to complete a set. Do three sets.
Source: POPSUGAR Studios

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