At first glance, an inflatable exercise or stability ball seems a silly thing to have in the gym, more like a beach ball than an exercise tool. But a stability ball can be an inexpensive and useful training tool for exercising your core and improving your balance and coordination.
Many bodyweight and dumbbell exercises can be doubly effective when performed on the ball. When you perform these exercises while seated or otherwise supported on this unstable rolling surface your body must use virtually all of your core muscles to stabilize itself as you perform your push ups or dumbbell presses.
Here are 5 stability ball exercises to get you started and strengthen your abdominals, your core, and your inner stability:
1. Ball Crunches
Take a seat on the stability ball and slowly roll forward ball is under your lower back. Without pulling your head or neck, perform a crunch and then slowly return to the starting position and repeat. An alternate Ball Crunch involves squeezing the ball between your knees as you perform regular crunches on your back. Remember to hold your hands crossed across your chest and not behind your head or neck pulling.
2. Oblique Crunches
This one is tricky, place your body sideways across the stability ball with your upper body on the ball and feet touching the floor. Your arms should be bent with hands behind your head for support. Now, slowly raise your body toward the ceiling using only your obliques, the muscles on your sides. Pause and hold briefly, relax and repeat.
3. Abdominal Rolls
Start with your knees on the floor and your hands on the exercise ball. Straighten your arms and roll the ball forward until your body is completely flat and keeping your back straight and abs tight, pause and hold briefly and slowly return to the start position.
4. Abdominal Tucks
Start from the regular push-up position with your hands on the floor directly below your shoulders and your shins supported on the ball. Using your abdominal muscles, “roll” the stability ball toward your arms by raising your hips and butt and bending your knees toward your chest into a “tucked” position. Keep your abs tight and “roll” the stability ball backward until you are back in the start position and repeat.
5. Crunch and Reach
Start on your back with your arms extended holding the exercise and ball in your hands. Perform a crunch while lifting your legs, as your arms and legs meet at the top, transfer the ball from between your hands to between your feet, and return to the start position. Perform another crunch but this time, pass the ball from between your feet, back to your between your hands. Continue, alternating hands, feet, hands, feet.
For each of these 5 core strengthening stability ball exercises, perform 1-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions.