The Fitness Ball: a challenge for your abs
The fitness ball - basically a big, somewhat bouncy ball - was supposedly
developed by a physical therapist to rehabilitate
injuries, but they can do a whole lot more.
Benefits of using an exercise ball
Excellent tool to build stability: The ball rolls around easily, so
strength and balance are required to keep it still. The challenge of keeping
the ball still makes the ball an excellent tool to teach stability and
Great tool to help you master good
posture: When you sit on a ball, you're forced to sit up with good posture
because you have nothing to lean back on. Also, because the ball rolls around,
it keeps you on your toes and keeps your body moving, which help prevent the
back pain that you can get from being too sedentary.
An exercise ball aims to strengthen all of the muscles in the
abs and back including the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis,
internal/external obliques and the erector spinae.
Using a ball can give your workout a little more variety and extra
Initially the ball was supposedly developed by a physical therapist in
Europe to provide injured patients some aerobic conditioning. The therapist
put patients on the ball and had them bounce. Eureka — the patients got a
great workout without impacting their injuries.
Right Size of ball for you
The following list matches you up with the right size ball, based on your
55 centimeters if you're under 5 feet tall
65 centimeters if you're between 5 feet and 5 feet 7 inches tall
75 centimeters if you're between 5 feet 8 inches and 6 feet 2 inches tall
85 centimeters if you're over 6 feet 2 inches tall
Upper Abdominal Curls
Lie back with your mid back making contact with the ball, your feet
planted firmly on the floor a little more than hip distance apart, and your
knees facing slightly away from each other. Squeeze your
butt and pull your belly
in to keep your hips at the same height as your shoulders. Make your torso as
stable as possible.
Interlace your fingers and put your hands behind your head.
Raise your head just high enough that your shoulder blades are off the
ball. Don't let your hips drop down as you roll your upper body up.
Don't bounce up and down, but go slowly to really get the benefits of this
Complete 8 repetitions slowly
Ball Side Crunch
Lie on your side against the exercise ball, arms across your
legs extended and feet
wide apart to give you balance.
Raise your upper body up from the ball and lower it back down after a
short pause. Alternate sides after each completed set.
Breathe out while contracting your ab muscles and breathe in while
returning to starting position.
Ball Reverse Crunch
Lie on your back,
hamstrings pressed against the exercise ball and arms spread out.
Squeeze the ball with your legs and roll your knees towards your chest
then roll back down after a short pause.
To avoid straining your neck, look straight up instead of looking at your
Plank With a Leg Lift
Place the ball under the shins or toes (harder) and the hands about
shoulder-width apart on the floor.
Contract the abs to hold the body in a straight line from head to toe.
Keeping the abs contracted, lift the right leg off the ball a few inches,
hold for a few seconds and lower. Repeat on the left leg, alternating feet for
8-16 reps on each side.
Get into a pushup position with the ball under the shins/ankles (easier)
or the tops of the feet (harder).
Make sure the body is straight, back flat and the abs engaged.
Roll the ball in, bending the knees towards the chest as you squeeze the
Try not to push back with your arms but, instead, keep all the movement in
Don't collapse the back as you roll the knees in.
Return to start and repeat for 10-16 reps.
Note: A good
prior to your workout is essential in avoiding injury.
your muscles when they’re cold, however, could potentially cause injury. For
this reason, always warm up with a walk or with some very gentle stretching.