Think of your body like the foundation of a house: without a solid frame, the structure is bound to collapse. The same rules apply to muscle building, in that strengthening your core and improving stability is just as important as bicep curls and squats. It helps improve balance and supports your body during movements in and out of the gym to reduce your risk of injury. Building stability not only offers you a platform for building a better body, but it helps align joints, strengthen tendons, and even out muscle imbalances. With these components firing on all cylinders, you’ll be on your way to a more well-rounded, healthy physique down the road.

These four exercises blend weight training with stability training. Keep in mind these moves are pretty challenging, especially if you’re accustomed to isolation training. You may notice your body starts to fatigue after the first two rounds, but this means your stabilizer muscles are really working. Try to push through 3-4 sets of each exercise.

Hamstring

Set Up: Lie on your back with your heels pressed firmly on top of a stability ball. Keep your arms at your side, with palms pressed down.

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Action: Lift your hips as high as you can, without placing strain on your neck; contract your core, glutes and hamstrings simultaneously and draw the ball toward you using your heels, pausing at the top of the action, then extending your legs back out.

Tip: Careful not to leverage the move with your arms, since you want to zone in on your core doing the bulk of the stabilizing.

Deadlift

Set Up: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your hips square. Transfer your weight into one leg.

Action: Hinge from the hips and bring your torso forward, raising your free leg straight out behind you and bringing the weights toward the ground. Contract your hamstrings in your standing leg to lower your leg and raise your body back to standing. Repeat for all reps then switch legs.

Pike

Set Up: Get into high plank position, with the tops of your feet resting on a stability ball. Make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders and engage your core.

Action: Press into the tops of your feet and pull the ball towards your body, engaging your hamstrings and glutes. Extend your legs to roll the ball back out.

Crunch

Set Up: Lie on your right side with feet stacked, supporting your body with your arm closest to the ground. Press your body up so your torso, hips and thighs are lifted off the ground. Place your left hand behind your head.

Action: Bend your top leg and bring your knee up towards your ribcage, while bringing your elbow to meet your knee. Hold, then slowly return to the starting position.

Advanced: To take this move up a notch, hold a dumbbell above your body with your free hand.

Written by: Sandy Braz  |  Photography by: Paul Buceta  |  Model: Ashley Pacht