If you’re looking to tone your backside, a Swiss ball might be just the tool you need. When you use a Swiss ball for glute exercises, you add an element of instability to the movement. As your body works to keep the ball stable, all three of your glute muscles -- the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus -- are activated.
If you’ve ever been to a Pilates or yoga class, you’ve probably done some version of a glute bridge. This exercise has long been a staple glute exercise for group classes because you can do it without equipment. You can add to the challenge of this exercise by using the Swiss ball by placing the ball under your shoulders or under your feet. Either way you use the ball, it adds some instability to the exercise forcing you to use all three of your glute muscles. Other excellent face-up exercises with a Swiss ball include hamstring curls and leg circles.
The Swiss ball is an excellent tool for face-down exercises. The ball is used to lift your torso off the ground, and you are forced to use all three muscles to keep it stable. Reverse extensions are a great introductory face-down move. Start with the ball under your torso with both of your hands and feet on the ground. Contract your glutes and lift your legs off the ground. Other face-down Swiss ball exercises include bent-leg pulses, reverse hyperextensions and alternating leg lifts.
When you stand up from a seated or squatting position, you use your glutes. For this reason, Swiss ball wall squats and plies are excellent glute exercises. For both of these exercises, place the ball between the small of your back and a wall. Extend your legs in front of you so your feet are at least 6 inches in front of your body. For squats, point your toes forward. For plies, point your toes out at an angle. Bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor, rolling the ball down the wall with your back as you go. As an added challenge, lift one leg off the ground and perform single-leg wall squats.
Protect your back and ensure that you get the most out of each exercise by choosing the right size stability ball. When you sit on the ball with your feet flat on the ground, your knees and hips should be at a 90-degree angle. If they are bent more than this, the ball is too small. If they are bent less, the ball is too big. Aim to complete two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions of each exercise, stopping when you feel a slight burn in your glutes. If you experience pain in your lower back, hips or knees when doing any of these exercises, stop immediately and consult a personal trainer for advice on correct form. If pain persists, see your doctor.
Lisa Thompson has been writing since 2008, when she began writing for the Prevention website. She is a holistic health practitioner, nationally certified massage therapist and National Council on Strength and Fitness-certified personal trainer. Thompson also holds certificates in nutrition and herbology from the Natural Healing Institute, as well as a Master of Education from California State University.