3 Effective Ways to Strengthen Your Core Using a Stability Ball


The term, “Core Exercise” is often associated with “six-pack abs”.  Aside from the visual aesthetic, core strength is foundational to stabilizing your spine and preventing back pain. Having a strong core allows you to perform daily tasks but can also be a catalyst for improving overall performance. The core muscles provide the ability to transfer force to the upper extremities in almost all sports with rotational sports generating the highest levels of torque. In this article, we’re sharing three effective core strengthening exercises using a stability ball.

Benefits of a Strong Core

  • Helps decrease low back pain
  • Improves the stability of your spine and prevent injury
  • Improves overall sports performance
  • Helps decelerate your body during rotational sports
  • Improves your ability to generate power and explosiveness

Defining The Anatomical Core:

The anatomical core includes more than just your abdominal muscles. First of all, the abdominals consist of the rectus abdominis (aka: six-pack), transverse abdominis, and the internal/external obliques. In addition to the abdominals, there are the diaphragm and the pelvic floor muscles which form the top and bottom of the core muscles, and the erector spinae group which is essentially your back muscles. Some core muscles span several vertebrae and possess lever arms making them ideal for torque production [1]. There are also very small muscles that only span one vertebra and act more as sensors and local stabilizers. 

Spine Stabilization: 

There are three essential systems to developing stability of your spine and preventing injury, which include: 

  • Passive system: This includes the vertebrae, discs, and ligaments that hold the spine together. 
  • Active system: This system consists of all the core muscles that surround the spine.
  • Neuromuscular system: This system is your ability to control the muscles that stabilize the spine.

Unstable Surfaces: 

Unstable surfaces are commonly used for rehabilitation of the spine in a clinical setting. Increasing the level of instability during weightlifting has been shown to increase the engagement of the core [1]. There are several ways to create instability such as performing exercises with free weights instead of machines, supporting the body on one foot rather than two, and incorporating unstable equipment like a stability ball. 

Core Strengthening with a Stability Ball: 

1. Bridging

  1. Start position– Lie face up on the floor with your hands at your side and legs on the ball. 
  2. Procedure– Keeping your abs braced, lift your hips off of the floor to form a straight line at the top known as a “plank.” 
  3. Coaching keys– Contract your glutes, quads, and abs to maintain a neutral stable spine position. To increase the level of difficulty, cross your arms across your chest and move the ball further away toward your heels. 
  1. Bridging 1 - Core Strengthening
  2. Bridging-2- Core Strengthening

*You should feel this exercise – in your glutes, quads, and abdominal muscles. 

2. Walkout Push-ups                   

  1. Start position– kneeling in front of the ball with your forearms placed on the ball.
  2. Procedure– Slowly walk out with your hands, allowing the ball to roll towards your feet, perform a push-up, and return to the starting position. 
  3. Coaching keys– Brace your abs, glutes, and quads to form a plank to maintain a neutral spine. Aim for a slow and controlled movement. 
  1. Walkout Push-Ups - Core Strengthening
  2. Walkout Push-Up - Core Strengthening
  3. Walkout Push-ups - Core Strengthening

SB Plank to Knee up

  • Start position– kneeling in front of the ball slowly roll forward and assume a pushup position 
  • Procedure– Keep your core and legs tight while maintaining a neutral position; bring your knee towards your arms, flexing at the hip and knees, allowing the ball to roll from your shins to your toes, and return to the starting position.
  • Coaching KeysThe movement should be slow and controlled to maintain a neutral spine positionAt the finish of the movement, your shoulders and back should be nearly perpendicular to the ground.
  1. Knee-Up-Core Strengthening
  2. Knee-Up 2 - Core Strengthening

*You should feel it- in your glutes, quad, and abs


Core strength is a foundational concept to human performance. Having a strong core allows us to perform daily tasks with ease and reduces the possibility of suffering from an injury. While society has placed value on the aesthetics of having washboard abs, we place value on the functionality and the ways to improve it. 

If you or someone your know can benefit from improving their core strength, our team can help! Our team designs customized treatment plans that can safely build up your core strength through exercise. Contact us to get started!

-In good health, 

– The Salinas Team


  1. Grenier SG, McGill SM. Quantification of lumbar stability by using 2 different abdominal activation strategies. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2007 Jan;88(1):54-62. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2006.10.014. PMID: 17207676. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17207676/ [Last Accessed 2/20/24]

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