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How To Do Chest Lift on the Exercise Ball


Updated October 26, 2009

pilates exercise ball

Chest Lift on the Ball

Sheer Photo Inc/Getty Images

Chest lift is a Pilates mat exercise. Adapting it to the exercise ball makes it a little harder as the instability of the ball challenges the core abdominal muscles even more. You can read about exercise balls and what to know before buying them in Pilates, Fitness, and the Exercise Ball.

Though chest lift looks like an abdominal crunch, it is not, and done properly it is more effective. If you are not familiar with chest lift, review the chest lift on the mat instructions first, then come back and try it on the ball.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 5 min.

Here's How:

  1. Sit on the ball with your feet flat on the floor and pointing forward, and your legs parallel, about hip distance apart. Engage you abs and make sure you feel stable. Then, walk your feet out as you roll down, using abdominal control, so that your back is supported by the ball. The front part of the ball should be just below your shoulder blades.

    You will be in a neutral spine position -- not tucked and not arched.

  2. Allow your shoulder blades to slide down your back as you put your hands behind your head, finger tips touching. Your chest and elbows will stay wide throughout the exercise.


  3. Exhale: Tilt your chin down and pull your abdominals in deeply to begin a slow, sequential, upper body curl away from the ball. Feel a deepening of the abs, especially just below the sternum. Do not try to sit all the way up.

    This move is targeting the upper ab area and challenging the whole core to keep you stable as you perform the move smoothly. As you curl up, your lower back will create a C-curve into the ball, but do not intentionally tuck your pelvis.

    Make sure that you keep good form with your elbows wide, your shoulders dropped away from your ears and your legs parallel.

  4. Pause and the top.


  5. Exhale: Keep the abdominals drawn in as you use them to slowly lower your upper body down to the support of the ball.

  6. Inhale: Release the abdominals and return to neutral spine.

  7. Repeat 6 to 8 times


  1. Remember, the work is in your abs, which are in a deep concave position. Your neck and shoulders stay relaxed, and the movement does not create tension in the legs.

  2. Chest lift on the mat and supported roll back are both good prep. exercises for chest lift on the ball.

  3. There is some extra focus on the upper ab area, but be sure that your lower abs are fully engaged.

  4. Use your inner thighs to help keep your legs parallel to each other as you work.

  5. In the picture, our models' form is good. But for most purposes, her ball is too big for her. You will find a formula for getting the right size ball for you in Pilates, Fitness, and the Exercise Ball.

What You Need

  • An Exercise Ball (aka fitness ball, stability ball)
Related Video
Pilates Chest Lift Ball Exercise

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