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How to Do Pike on the Exercise Ball in Pilates: Tips, Technique, Correct Form, Benefits and Common Mistakes

Pikes on the exercise ball helps you to build abdominal strength. (Image via Pexels / Andrea Piacquadio)
Pikes on the exercise ball helps you to build abdominal strength. (Image via Pexels / Andrea Piacquadio)
Soniya Y

Pike on the exercise ball is a great exercise to help you build abdominal strength and power while working on your core stability. This Pilates exercise is performed by balancing on the exercise ball as you lift one leg above your waist and holding it in that position for a brief moment, before returning it to the starting position.

When you're in the plank position, this position looks deceptively simple, although it's not easy to hold in the beginning. The main difficulty is getting into the pike position without your shoulders falling back.


How to Do Pikes on the Exercise Ball

There are numerous stability ball workouts to choose from. Try the swiss ball pikes if you're searching for another total-body stability ball exercise to add to your program.

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  • Start in plank position with the ball under your thighs.
  • Your legs are straight behind you, and your shoulders are rotated back and down, away from your ears.
  • Now find a stable position by lifting your abs and engaging your butt and legs.
  • Walk forward on your hands so that the ball is under your knees or the tops of your shins. You will need to play with this yourself to see how far back you should walk.
  • The farther back you go the higher your pike will be, but you will also be less stable so work up gradually.
  • Inhale and raise your hips into a pike, bending at the waist and extending your legs behind you.
  • The ball will roll underneath your feet to be closer to your ankles.
  • Keep your chest wide and shoulders down so there is much space between them and your ears.
  • Go slowly, monitoring your balance as you do. Pressing the ball against your shins will help with stability.

Tips and Techniques for Pikes with Exercise Ball

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  • Start in a high plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and secured to the ground.
  • Slowly walk your hands forward until the ball touches your shins, ending in a high plank posture with your hands shoulder-width apart and secured to the ground to minimize swaying.
  • To make the ball roll forward, drive your hips up and drag your feet towards your chest.
  • Keep the ball near your chest, then slowly lower yourself back to a plank position.
  • If you're having trouble with this move, start with a plank and build up to the full move. Exhaling as you bring the ball towards you will also help boost your stability. Bottoms up!

Benefits of Doing Pikes on the Exercise Ball

The exercise isolates the abs, engaging them in a movement that does not rely on the hip flexors and lower back muscles. This movement in this exercise requires shoulder stability, pelvic stability, and hugging the midline—just as in the pike part of a Pilates push-up. It is a practical total-body workout that strengthens the shoulders, chest, and arms.

The Swiss Ball Pikes activates the lower abs, upper abs, and obliques better than most other abdominal exercises. This is because the hip flexors and lower back aren't very heavily recruited in this exercise.


Common Mistakes to Avoid

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1) Curving your back

By curving your back you put strain on your back when your core should be performing the heavy lifting. Keep your hips up and your back straight by using your abs; if in doubt, check your form in a mirror.

2) Too large an exercise ball

Make sure the ball is the proper size for you. If you do this exercise with a bigger ball, you will be at an incorrect angle.

3) Sagging lower back

Allowing your lower back to collapse and your hips to dip below a straight line with your shoulders when returning to plank position can cause strain. Keep a tight grasp on your abs.

4) Extending the Neck

When looking around, do not crane your neck or lift your chin. At all times, keep your neck and chin in line with your arms and back.

5) Too far forward

If you move too far forward, you can end up at the front. Keep your abs tight.


Bottom Line

The Swiss Ball Pikes is a great exercise for anyone looking to develop functional core strength, burn fat, and improve posture. You can do this move almost anywhere to break up your regular routine and spice up your workout. But it is actually a challenging exercise, so proper form and body alignment are essential.

If you're not careful, you can waste time and energy trying to perfect the Pikes. So give this move the attention it deserves to reap the benefits of one of Pilates' most underrated exercises.


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Edited by Sabine Algur

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