Running out of interesting exercises to do at home? Then give this Pilates Toning Ball workout a try! I designed it to help you tone muscles at home, even in small spaces.
In this blog we’ll cover:
- What are Toning Balls/Pilates Balls?
- Benefits of Toning Balls
- How to Use and Perform the Workout
- 15 Pilates Ball Exercises for a Full-Body Workout
Ready for some fun new moves to get stronger? Then read on!
What are Toning balls or Pilates Balls?
Toning balls, also known as Pilates balls, are small handheld weights with slight flexibility and bounce. They come in a variety of weights which are typically light – around one to five pounds – to fit your need. The light weight makes them great for targeting small muscles, such as in Pilates workouts, but they can also be used in place of dumbbells when a heavy weight is not required.
The toning balls and extra thick pilates mat in this blog and video below are from ProSourceFit.com. When you order from their site, use code Holly10 at checkout to get an extra 10% off your purchase!
Benefits of Pilates Toning Balls
Weighted toning balls are a great addition to your workout routine, regardless of if you’re a beginner or more experienced. Whether you’re just exercising for the first time, or are in the process of rehabbing muscles, they are a really nice way to do some light, easy toning. If you’re a bit stronger, you can use them in a greater variety of ways to build strength in your smaller stabilizer muscles. Their benefits include:
- Great for home workouts
- Useful for training stabilizer muscles
- Great for beginners and older adults
- Good for weaker grips
- Can be used while traveling, such as on a road trip
- Fun way to change up workouts
- Small and don’t take up much space
- Easy on your hands – no calluses!
- Can be used in creative ways for more advanced athletes, such as juggling while on a balance board or tossed between partners during agility training.
How to Do this Pilates Toning Ball Full Body Workout
I have given you a variety of exercises that can be used for either a full workout or to pick and choose from to add into your normal routine. However you decide to use it, I designed it as a full body workout with four circuits of three to four exercises each. All of the circuits are designed to hit the upper and lower body and core.
Being that these are sometimes used in Pilates, I have included Pilates-type movements, but many of these exercises are for general strength and toning that just about anyone can do and can benefit from.
There are a few ways that you can use this workout and workout video (included below).
- Beginner: Perform 2-3 of the circuits, working your way up to the full routine.
- Intermediate: Choose a few moves and include them in your normal routine; or complete the full workout as one long session; or choose 3-4 circuits and repeat each one 2-3 times.
- Advanced: Complete the full workout as one long session, or complete the full workout at least twice.
Depending on the weight you’re using and your level of strength and endurance, plan to complete about 10-20 reps of each exercise.
Pilates Toning Ball Workout Routine
As with any workout, you always want to start with a warm-up to get blood flowing to your muscles and prepare them for the work they’re about to perform. Cold, immobile muscles are more prone to injury and won’t be able to produce the same amount of work. This is a quick, basic warm-up, so feel free to add in more if your muscles feel “cold” or stiff. If you’d like to get your heart rate up more, then add some lunges, push-ups, or a short jog around the block.
- Arm Circles: Extend your arms straight out to the sides, then rotate them in circles, both forward and backward. Do 10-20 reps
- Squat and Reach: Stand with feet about shoulder distance apart. Squat toward the ground with your weight in your heels, keeping your chest lifted high. As you stand up, reach and press towards the sky. Do 10-15 reps.
- Jog in place or jumping jacks: Do 1 minute of jogging or 30 jumping jacks. You may also replace this with any cardiovascular movement, such as butt kickers, marching in place, walking up and down a small flight of stairs, or air punches.
Circuit 1 Exercises:
- Windmill (core, glutes, shoulders): Stand with feet about shoulder distance apart, one foot slightly turned out at about 45 degrees. Take one ball and place it in your opposite hand and stretch it towards the sky. Engage your core, then reach your arm down towards that turned out foot, keeping your eyes focused up on the ball. Reach down, then slowly stand all the way up. Repeat 6-8 times on each side.
- Roll-Ups (core): Lie on the ground and place one weight between your knees, squeezing it slightly to work the inner thighs. Set feet on the floor with knees bent and extend your arms behind your head. With your inhale, draw your belly button in toward your spine, then reach your arms as you lift your upper body up off the ground. Try to reach and roll-up slowly rather than use momentum to lift you up. Reach towards your knees, then sit up nice and tall at the end.
Reverse it by slowly lowering yourself back down, thinking of lowering one vertebra at a time. Focus on lowering your low back first, then the rest of your back and upper body – it takes a lot of core control to be able to do this rather than just flopping back down like a typical sit-up! Repeat this 10 times
Regression: If this is too hard at first, just roll up as far as you can. You can also try starting in the top position sitting up and working on the lowering down portion.
- Russian Twist/Chest Fly (core, chest): This is also similar to boat pose in Pilates. Start in a sit-up position with feet out in front of you while holding one weight in each hand. Lean back, ideally to about 45 degrees, then if possible, slightly lift your feet up off the floor so you’re balancing on your hips/butt. If this is too hard, you can leave feet on the ground. Extend your arms straight out in front of you, then rotate to the left by extending your left arm out to the side. Exhale as you bring the left arm back in front of you, working your chest as you come back to center. Make sure to keep your back straight and chest high. Then repeat on the right side. Repeat 8-10 times on each side.
- Reverse Lunge to Shoulder Press (legs, shoulders, glutes, core): With one ball in each hand, you’re going to start standing with feet together, then step backwards into a lunge until both knees are bent at 90 degrees. Make sure that your front knee is stacked on top of your ankle and not shooting forward, and check that your knees aren’t caving in. Knees and toes should align, and back knee should hover just over the ground. Then stand back up, pressing through your front heel and bring your back leg up to meet your front leg. At the same time, press the weights up into the air. As you bring the weights back down, repeat the reverse lunge. Complete 10 reps, then switch to the other side.
Circuit #2 Exercises:
- Half-Kneeling Woodchop (core, arms): Start in a kneeling position like the lunge with back knee on the ground and both knees bent at 90 degrees. You can hold one or both weights. With arms extended straight, reach down by your hip, then keeping your core engaged, swing arms slowly up towards the opposite side of your body. Bring the ball back to the start with a slow, controlled movement. You’re not going for speed and power, but aiming for good core control. Straight arms will help to engage your core as well. Repeat 10 reps on each side.
- Hip Bridge (glutes, core): Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Place one ball between your knees and relax arms on the ground. Inhale as you lift your hips by contracting your core and squeezing your glutes. Hold at the top for 1-2 seconds, then slowly lower all the way back down to the ground. As soon as you touch the ground, come right back up. Repeat this 10 to 20 times.
You should feel this most in your glutes, however if you have weak glutes, you will feel it more in your hamstrings and back. Keep practicing to improve glute strength and/or try these band exercises for strength.
- Bicycle Ball Passes (core, arms): This is a take on your standard bicycle crunch but much more challenging. Start on your back with your arms behind you holding one weight and lift both knees up. Straighten one leg as you bring the other in toward your chest. At the same time, bring the ball through the bent knee, then straighten your leg and extend both arms back behind you. Switch by bringing the ball forward, bending the other knee and looping through. Make sure your shoulders and legs stay up off the ground the whole time so your core stays engaged. Repeat 10 times on each side.
- Squat with Arm Raise (legs, glutes, shoulders, back): Stand with feet are a little bit wider than shoulder distance and hold one weight in each hand. Perform a squat, focusing on dropping your butt toward the ground, weight in your heels, and keeping a tall chest with the weights in each hand. Keep your arms hanging down towards the ground in front of you as you squat, then as you stand up, raise the weights all the way up over your head with straight arms. Release your arms back down, then go straight back into your squat. Repeat 12-15 times.
Circuit #3 Exercises
- Around the Worlds (shoulders): Start standing with a ball in each hand, palms facing forward. Engage your core and raise both arms up overhead with a slight bend in your elbows until the weights touch. Then release all the way back down as you inhale. Repeat 10 to 20 reps.
- Toe Taps (core): Lie down on your back and draw your knees up towards your chest so they’re at about a 90-degree angle. Place one ball underneath each knee. Draw your belly button into your spine to keep your core engaged. Then, with slow, controlled movements, drop one toe towards the ground until it almost touches, then exhale and bring that knee back in towards your chest. Repeat on the other side. Complete 10-15 reps on each side.
- Side-to-Side Knee Drops (core): Lie on your back with knees bent at 90 degrees. Place one weight between your knees and extend your arms out to your sides for support. Draw the belly button in really tight, then drop your knees over to one as far as feels comfortable. You do not need to touch the ground. Slowly return them to the center and then drop them back to the other side. Repeat 8-10 times on each side.
- Side Lunge with Bicep Curl (legs, glutes, biceps): Hold one weight in each hand and stand in a wide stance with feet wider than shoulder distance and both toes turned out at about 45 degrees. Bend one leg and sit back as if there is a chair behind you that you’re trying to sit into while keeping the other leg straight. You can also think of this as a one-sided squat. As you come down, let your arms hang down on either side of your leg as if you’re about to touch the weights on the ground. Then press through your heel and stand all the way up, performing a bicep curl as you do so by drawing your hands in towards your shoulders. Switch to the other side and repeat. Continue alternating side for 10 to 20 reps.
Circuit #4 Exercises
- Ball Roll Plank (core, arms): Get into a plank position (as if you’re going to perform push-ups) with one ball by either hand just behind your wrist. Hands should be in line with your shoulders. Engage your core, then reach across with your opposite hand and pull the ball over to the other wrist. Then with the other hand reach over and pull the ball back. Make sure as you do this you keep your belly button drawn in and glutes tight. Your whole body should be like a stiff board as you continue moving the ball. Avoid rocking back and forth. Continue to alternate sides until you’ve completed at least 10 reps.
- Single Leg Deadlift (legs, back, core): From a standing position with a ball in your right hand, lift your right leg off the ground. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, draw your belly button in, then slowly begin to hinge at the hip (tipping forward from the hip, not the knee). Maintain a flat back and a slight bend in your knee as you come down towards the ground. You should stop when your back is about parallel with the ground and the ball about a 6-12 inches from the ground. Then press through your heel and reverse the hip hinge coming all the way back up to a standing position. If you want to make this harder, you can add a shoulder press at the very end. Complete 6-10 reps, then switch to the other leg.
- Dead Bug (core): Begin lying on your back with knees up, bent at 90 degrees, and raise arms up into the air. Focus on keeping your belly button very tight and lower back drawn in toward the floor with just a slight space between your lower spine and the floor. Extend one leg while simultaneously extending the opposite arm overhead. Then draw them both back in towards your chest at the same time and switch to the other side. Complete 6 to 10 reps of this on each side.
That’s it! A full-body Pilates toning ball workout. Once you’ve tried this workout or added some of the exercises to your routine, leave questions or comments about how it went. And please do share this workout with others who would enjoy it as well!
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If you need something more custom to help you get fit, then don’t hesitate to contact me to learn more about the programs I offer and how I can help you reach your fitness and health goals.
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