You Versus Ball: Master the Swiss Ball Challenge

STACK Expert Jim Carpentier challenges you to perform a tough Swiss ball exercise.

Swiss Ball Challenge

Not all Swiss ball exercises are created equal. Here is one of the more challenging ones, incorporating key sports components like upper- and lower-body strength, core strength and stability, overall balance and muscular endurance.

If you try this exercise, be forewarned. I've had many athletes attempt it, but few have succeeded to stay atop the ball. Will you be one of the few who's up to the challenge?


  • Small, medium or large Swiss ball depending on your height and weight.
  • Two cones (or other markers) spread 10 yards apart.


  • Perform one perfect set (your feet can never touch the ground from start to finish).
  • If  your feet touch the ground, start over!
  • Start at Cone 1, go 10 yards to Cone 2 and without rest, return to Cone 1.

Performing the Exercise

  1. Place the ball adjacent to Cone 1 (start position). Lie atop the ball on your stomach and roll slightly forward so your hands are on the ground and your lower body is on the ball (feet off the ground) and your knees are centered on the ball.
  2. Drive the ball toward your arms with your knees and walk forward on your hands (like an inchworm exercise).
  3. Repeat movement while maintaining balance on the ball, using lower- and upper-body muscles to advance toward Cone 2. Remember: Your legs must stay atop the ball at all times, with both feet off the ground. If one foot touches the ground or you fall off the ball, stand up, return to the beginning and re-start.
  4. When you  reach Cone 2, without resting, reverse toward Cone 1 by going backward. Do not turn around on the ball and face Cone 1. The most difficult part of the exercise is using your legs/knees and arms/hands to travel in reverse while atop the ball.
  5. When you successfully return to Cone 1, take a 60-second rest. After resting, you may want to do a second set. If you're more adventurous, try moving laterally on the ball. Walk with your hands sideways while simultaneously moving the ball with your knees/legs in a rolling motion. Balance really comes into play here as you struggle to move the ball without falling or letting your feet hit the ground. Take your time and continue using your hands and lower body to move sideways on the ball. The continuous upper- and lower-body motion while balancing on the ball especially works core muscles and strengthens arms, shoulders and upper-back muscles, as well as quadricep, gluteal and hamstring muscles. 

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