Stability Ball + Dumbbell Back & Biceps Circuit Workout

Hi Everybody!  How are you all doing?  I'm back today with a great workout for you to try next time you need a good upper body burn.  Today's focus is back & biceps and we're using 2 pieces of equipment both separately and together: the stability ball (aka Swiss ball) and a set of dumbbells.  I love combining pieces of equipment like this, particularly the stability ball, because it forces your muscles to work harder - especially your abs - and it also forces your brain to really think about what movements you're doing.  Hooray for something different!  Ready to check it out and get those arms workin'?  Keep reading for the details!

Stability Ball + Dumbbell Back & Biceps Circuit Workout

Stability Ball + Dumbbell Back & Biceps Circuit Workout

What You'll Need: a stability ball and some medium-heavy dumbbells (I'd recommend 8-10lbs for beginners, and 12-15lbs for more advanced fitness levels).
What You'll Do: start with circuit 1 and go through the exercises in order, using the designated piece(s) of equipment.  Do each circuit 3 times through before moving onto the next.  Let's get started!

Circuit 1 (x 3): Stability Ball

1 | 10 Plank Walkouts to Push Up - start with the ball underneath your stomach, legs raised and hands flat on the floor holding your upper body up so you're balanced on the ball.  From here, walk your hands out until you've reached a plank position, keeping your abs tight and spine straight (easier = walk until your knees are on top of the ball; harder = walk out all the way so the tops of your feet are on it).  Once you've reached the plank, do 1 push up.  Then reverse the move to walk your hands back toward the ball, rolling your body back to start.  Do 10 total.

2 | 15 Prone Leg Lifts (on ball) - keep the ball under your stomach here, hands flat on the floor, chest lowered and feet lightly touching the floor.  From here, lift your legs up straight as high as you can, working your lower back and glutes.  Do 15 lifts.

3 | 20 Prone Ball Lifts (on floor) - lie face down on the floor holding the stability ball behind you on top of your lower back, arms straight.  From here, squeeze the ball between your hands and lift it up off your back while you lift your chest up off the floor.  Do 20 total.

4 | 20 Birddog Lifts - start with the ball underneath your stomach/hips again.  Raise your opposite arm and opposite leg up straight so they are parallel to the floor and hold that position for 5 seconds.  Lower back down and switch sides, holding for another 5 seconds.  Keep alternating sides for 20 reps.

Circuit 2 (x 3): Dumbbells

1 | 10 Alternating Renegade Rows - start in a high plank with your hands grasping the dumbbells, keeping them in line with your shoulders and abs engaged.  From here, alternate lifting the dumbbells up towards your armpit, using the muscles in your upper arms and back to do the work.  Remember to engage your abs to keep your hips square to the floor as you row.  Do 10 total (5 each side).

2 | Bicep Curls + Pulse + Hold (10/10/10 x 2) - in a standing position hold the dumbbells one in each hand and do 10 regular bicep curls keeping your elbows close to your ribs.  The immediately do 10 little pulses with your arms bent to 90˚, followed by a 10-second hold at 90˚.  Repeat that sequence twice.

3 | 15 Reverse Flyes - start in a standing position with a slight hinge forward at the hips and slight bend in the knee, holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing behind you.  From here, keep your elbows out wide and pull the weights up as if you're trying to pinch your shoulder blades together.  Lower them back down to start.  Do 15 total.

4 | 15 Reverse Grip Bicep Curls - from a standing position holding a dumbbell in each hand, curl the weights up like a regular bicep curl, but reverse your grip so your palms face the floor (i.e. the backs of your hands are facing you as your arms come up).  Don't be surprised if these are slightly awkward and/or more challenging than your regular curl!  Do 15 total.

Circuit 3 (x 3): Stability Ball + Dumbbells

1 | 10 Weighted Back Extensions - start with your stomach on the ball holding 1 dumbbell close to your chest, toes planted on the floor with your feet out wide (wider = more base of support). From here, use the muscles in your back to lift your chest up off the ball.  Lower yourself back down slowly.  Do 10 total.

2 | 10 Concentration Curls (each arm) - start squatted or kneeling behind the ball, one arm holding a dumbbell and that elbow propped up on the other side of the ball.  From here, do a bicep curl on that arm, focusing on working your bicep and nothing else.  Do 10 on each arm.

3 | 10 Balanced Lawnmowers (each side) - ideally I'd like you to be in an incline forearm plank on the ball (either on your feet or your knees), balancing on one forearm, while the other arm holds 1 dumbbell at the side.  From here, pull the weight up toward your armpit and rotate slightly to work your back.  Do 10 lawnmowers on each arm.  Trainer Tip: if the plank balancing is too much, get rid of the stability ball, and do regular dumbbell lawnmowers from a lunge position.

4 | 10 Incline Bicep Curls - you're sitting on the ball with it under your lower back, knees bent, butt is down by your heels, holding a dumbbell in each hand, elbows resting on the ball.  From here do 10 bicep curls, moving only the lower half of your arm.

There you have it!  How do your arms feel?  Hopefully they're tired - in a good way - and maybe you've found some new uses for the stability ball, I hope!

Readers: chat with me!  Do you incorporate multiple pieces of equipment into your workouts like this?  What are your favorite stability ball and dumbbell exercises?  Have you tried any new workouts or classes since the new year?