Each of the nine strengthening exercises included in this circuit can be easily accomplished at home using an exercise ball.
“According to a 2017 study by data firm Dstillery, the farther a gym member lives from the facility where she works out, the less often she goes there,” reports Matt Fitzgerald in his “Perfect Your Homebody” article for the April 2018 issue of Women’s Running. In recognition of this data, Women’s Running collected several exercises that every runner can do at home with inexpensive gear that can be used for years to come.
Rear Foot Elevated Lunge
Stand on your right foot with your left leg extended behind you and the top of your left foot resting on the ball. Bend your right knee until your right thigh is parallel to the floor, keeping your torso upright and your weight on your heel. Now press your heel into the floor and return to the start position. Complete 10 repetitions and then repeat the exercise with your left leg.
Begin in a prone position with the tops of your feet resting on the ball, your palms on the floor at shoulder width and your body forming a straight line. Now contract your stomach muscles, bend your knees and roll the ball toward your chest. Pause briefly and roll the ball back until your body forms a straight line again. Complete 12 repetitions.
Assume a modified pushup position with your feet together, your body forming a perfectly straight line and your palms positioned slightly more than shoulder-width apart on the ball. Bend your elbows and smoothly lower your chest to within an inch of the ball. Immediately press back upward to the start position. If you have difficulty doing a full pushup, do a half pushup, bending your elbows only to 90 degrees before pressing upward.
Start in a bridge position, faceup, with your head and shoulders on the floor and your heels resting on top of the ball, your body suspended in a straight line between these points. Contract your hamstrings and roll the ball toward your rear end. Pause briefly and extend your legs, rolling the ball back to the starting point. Don’t let your hips drop. Complete 12 repetitions. If this exercise is too easy, do a single-leg version, elevating one foot above the ball and pulling the ball toward your butt with the other leg.
Kneel on the floor facing the ball, lean forward slightly and place your forearms on top of the ball. Pull your belly button toward your spine. Slowly roll the ball forward by extending your forearms out in front of you and allowing your body to tilt toward the floor. Concentrate on maintaining perfect alignment of your spine. Stop just before you’re forced to arch your back. Hold this position for a two-count and then return to the start position, exhaling as you do so. Complete 12 repetitions.
Ball Walk Out
Lie facedown on the ball with your palms on the floor. Begin with the ball supporting your pelvic area. Now use your hands to drag your body forward over the ball until it is underneath the tops of your feet, keeping your body in a straight line. Pause briefly and roll back to the start position. Complete 10 repetitions.
Assume a modified pushup position with your palms on the floor, the tops of your feet resting on the ball and your body in a perfectly straight line between them. Bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the floor. Go as far as you can without strain; it’s okay if it isn’t very far. Now press back to the start position. Complete 10 repetitions.
Bridge Heel Raise
Lie faceup with your upper back supported by the ball, your feet flat on the floor about 12 inches apart, your knees bent and your body forming a “tabletop” from knees to chest. Contract your calf muscles and raise your heels off the floor without allowing your hips to sag. Now lower your heels back to the floor. Complete 12 repetitions. If this exercise is too easy, do a single-leg version, first crossing your left ankle over your right knee and then doing the reverse.
Get into a plank position with your palms on the floor underneath your chest and the ball supporting your shins. Keeping your arms straight, press the heels of your palms into the floor and push your body backward so that the ball rolls up under your thighs. Go as far as you can and then pull your body in the opposite direction until you’re back in the start position. Complete 12 repetitions. If this exercise is too easy, start with the ball under the tops of your feet.