Today, in my at-home exercise series, Jennifer Nyp from Zen Girl Fitness tells us to take out that exercise ball that’s been hogging all the space in our closet and use it to benefit your body and your brain. 

Exercise Balls are everywhere. I find that most people have a ball at home, but they are collecting dust somewhere. I love the ball because it makes exercise fun and definitely more effective. Make sure you are using the right size for your body. If you are between 4’11” and 5’4”, you need a ball that is 55cm in diameter. If you are between 5’5” and 5’11”, use a ball that is 65cm. If you are over 6 feet tall, you should use a ball that is 75 cm.

The first challenge is to control the amount of bounce that occurs in the ball and your body. Do this by using your core muscles, which will help tone your entire body. For some of the exercises below, the goal is to not move the ball at all. All exercises performed on the ball, such as crunches, work more muscle fibers then they would on a stable surface. The mind body connection is important here, because if you are not paying attention, you will fall or drop the ball. Many studies show how exercise benefits your brain, with exercise demanding your full concentration being the most beneficial. So get to it and have fun!

Here are 13 Ways to Use an Exercise Ball in your Workout:

Move #1: Forearm Roll-out

This makes a great warm-up. Come to a full stop before rolling back up to stand. Keep your pelvis tucked under. Do 2-3 sets of 10-30 reps or 30-60 seconds.

Move #2: Side Crunch

Do as many as you can on each side!

Move #3: Side Leg Taps with a Push-up

Do as many as you can do well. When your form goes, take a break.

Move #4: Knee Stretches

No bouncing! Smooth and steady as you go… Do 2-3 sets of 20 or 30-60 seconds.

Move #5: Glute Leg Lift with Push-up

AKA the Sea Saw or Swan Dive. Don’t bounce the ball! Do 2-3 sets of 10-20.

Move #6: Glute Squeeze

Control your movement. Don’t bounce or compress your lower back. Keep your abs tight and off the ball as much as possible. Do 2-3 sets of 30.

Move #7: Side Crunch to Knee

This is a great way to challenge your side body, obliques, thigh and general core. Do 2-3 sets of 10-20 reps.

Move #8: Side Bends

Work your side body from the top down. Squeeze your butt and tuck your tail under to protect your lower back.

Move #9: Straight Side Leg Lift

Works your kneeling leg, lifting leg, abs and love handles. Great for runners.

Move #10: Pilates Ab Series

You can do the pilates ab series with anything, but it’s really challenging with the ball. Be sure to keep you lower back firmly on the mat. Don’t go too low in the lower/lift especially. Do 5-10 reps of every exercise.

Move #11: Alternate Arm/Leg Hold

Soooo much harder then it looks. Keep your chin forward and neck relaxed. 10-15x or 30-60 sec. timed.

Move #12: Glute Bridge

Great for butt work and also hip flexor and front body opening. 1-2 mins., 20-30x

Move #13: Glute Bridge Hamstring Curl

Shoulders down, neck relaxed. 20-30x 1 leg 10-15x each leg.

Stay tuned for next week when Jen will teach us how to incorporate another piece from her list of recommended home gym equipment, which you can find here.

You can follow Jennifer Nyp on Instagram at @zengirlfitness for more daily exercise ideas or if you live in Manhattan and want to work out with her private SOHO studio, you find her contact info here.