4 Fitness-Ball Moves to Tone Hips, Buns & Thighs

Chris Freytag by Chris Freytag | January 6th, 2009 | 16 Comments
topic: Fitness, Health & Wellness, Weight Loss

I love to use a stability ball with my personal training clients and in my strength training classes. Stability balls, also called fitness balls, balance balls or Swiss balls, add that extra balance challenge, involving your core muscles in every move. They add fun and variety, they’re affordable and easy to move around, and their uses are numerous!

Pump out a few exercises (like the four below) while watching an episode of Desperate Housewives (did it last night when my daughter and I were watching.) Use the ball for 10 minutes before work or when the baby naps. Or sit on it while catching up on emails. (More at the end of this post on why just sitting on the ball is good for you!)

How to Choose the Right Size Fitness Ball for You

Select a ball based on your height:

45cm ball = under 5 ft tall
55cm ball = 5’ to 5’7”
65cm ball = 5’8” to 6’3”
75cm ball = over 6’3” tall

4 Fitness Ball Moves to Tone Hips, Buns & Thighs

Some of my favorite lower body exercises involve the ball. Here’s how to do four moves I recommend for the tough hips, buns and thighs zone. Get more ideas for fitness ball exercises on GaiamLife.com or check out some fitness ball workout DVDs.

1. Hamstring Roll-Ins

This is one of the best exercises to tighten up the hamstrings and camouflage ever-looming cellulite.

Lie on your back and straighten legs, with heels resting on ball. Press your heels into the ball as you contract the abs, bend the knees and roll the ball in towards the glutes. Then roll back out to the starting position. To increase the difficulty, try lifting your hips off the floor and keeping them up the whole time, using the stabilizing muscles of your core to intensify the hamstring curl. Repeat 10 times, 3 sets.

2. Bun Lifters

Not only good for the glutes, but a core body challenge as well.

Lie on your back with soles of feet on exercise ball, legs bent 90°. Your arms are at your sides, palms down, shoulders relaxed. Inhale and lift hips in air like a drawbridge. Keep hips steady in neutral, and your navel pulled in to the spine, activating your transverse abdominus to protect your low back. Exhale as you lower back down to the floor, as steady and stable as you can be. You can use your hands for balance but try not to use them to push yourself up. Do not arch the spine; keep your bellybutton drawn toward spine throughout and squeeze your glutes.

3. Side Lying Leg Lifts

Targets hips, glutes and core muscles.

Lie on your side with your torso on the ball. Your bottom leg is bent on the mat and your top leg is extended with the foot resting on floor. Rest your top hand on your hip, put your other arm over the ball, and put the other hand on the floor for balance. Keeping abdominals tight to balance and stabilize pelvis, lift your top leg as high as comfortably possible without bending at the hip. Hold for a moment, and then slowly lower. Keep body in one plane with abs tight—don’t let the top hip rotate forward or back. (Imagine that your body is flattened against a sheet of glass). Do 10-15 repetitions on each side, 3 sets.

4. Prone Hip Extensions

Targets hips, glutes and core muscles.

Lie face down on the ball with abs in contact with ball. Place your hands on the floor in a push-up position. Keep your legs hip-width apart with your toes lightly touching the ground. With abs contracted to support the lower back, contract the glutes and lift straight legs up in unison until they are in line with the rest of your body. Bend from your hips to return to starting position. If this is too challenging, start by lifting one leg at a time. Do 10 to 15 repetitions, 3 sets.

Just sitting on a ball offers great benefits, too!

I am sitting on a ball right now as I type. I keep it in my office and on days when I am glued to my computer (like today); I sit on the ball to keep from slumping and going stir crazy. I’m high-energy, and sitting still for hours is tough — but I can move around a little on the ball and it helps me stay focused. It’s funny, because I have a fairly expensive ergonomic, adjustable office chair. But most days, I only sit in the chair for up to an hour and then push it away for the ball. Every so often I just lay back over the ball, stretch all the way into extension, and ohh it feels great!

My kids sit on fitness balls at the table when doing homework. I recently read that several schools are experimenting with replacing desk chairs with stability balls. Skeptics have voiced concern that balls would be disruptive in a classroom setting, but actually it’s quite the opposite. Teachers, administrators and a Mayo Clinic study have found that students, even those with attention deficit issues, are more attentive and productive when they sit on a ball vs. a chair.

So go ahead — have a ball!

Stay Healthy,

ChrisFreytag.com has been updated for 2009!


  1. [...] 4 Fitness-Ball Moves to Tone Hips, Buns & Thighs « Gaiam Blog (blog.gaiam.com) – January 06, 2009It’s funny, because I have a fairly expensive ergonomic, adjustable office chair. But most days, I only sit in the chair for up to an hour and then push it away for the ball. Every so often I just lay… [...]

  2. The ball is sensational and your suggested exercises are some of the most perfect exercises to do. I also enjoy laying across the ball on my side and do crunches that really work the waist. I keep my legs extended out straight and change sides. Regular crunches, while the ball supports your lower back is another great one! You want to make sure you lead with your heart not your neck. I am almost 60 years old and I feel FABULOUS! I have been using the ball for many core exercise for years and I have to say, besides Hot Yoga, it is one of my favorite exercises.

    judy davis | January 14th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
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    Mary Jo Cameron | January 15th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  4. [...] 4 Fitness-Ball Moves to Tone Hips, Buns & Thighs [...]

  5. [...] 4 Fitness-Ball Moves to Tone Hips, Buns & Thighs « Gaiam Blog [...]

  6. [...] 4 Fitness-Ball Moves to Tone Hips, Buns & Thighs [...]

    Fitness Ball Abs | January 24th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  7. [...] all the muscles in your core to keep yourself balanced. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I also sit on my ball in my office to relieve tension in my [...]

  8. hey i have tried so hard to lose bout 5-7 kilo’s i just can’t wat can i do which is easy?

    lucy | July 13th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  9. [...] 4 Fitness-Ball Moves to Tone Hips, Buns & Thighs [...]

  10. Great use of the ball there. It really does make a difference to your workout.

    core stability exercises | July 10th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  11. Great Instructions Chris thanks

    Karen L. | July 27th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  12. I had back surgery about 4 years ago, and I was wondering if that could help or hurt my back?

    Sabrina | January 24th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  13. I like the sitting benefit.. You can replace the ball with the chair while you actually are benefiting..
    Thanks for that great info.

    David | January 28th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  14. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt donate to this superb blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to brand new updates and will talk about this site with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

    Morris Baade | July 16th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  15. Thanks so much for your kind comment, Morris! The best way you can help our blog to be successful is to keep reading and sharing with your friends and family :)

    Gaiam Life | July 19th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  16. Thanks for a great article, Chris.

    As someone who likes to mix up their exercise, one thing I use regularly is my fitness ball. Hamstring Roll-Ins and Bun Lifters are two of my favorite exercises to do with the ball. The former really zeros in on the area where the butt and the thigh meet and the latter is excellent for the glutes.

    Melissa | April 27th, 2015 | Comment Permalink

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