No doubt, it is the crunch.
However, crunches on this device aren’t as effective as people tend to believe they are.
There are ways one can use the “Swiss ball” to work the abs that they’d never even consider.
With that in mind, here are the top 4 stability ball ab exercises.
This is perhaps the most versatile of stability ball exercises because it works all of the following muscles: the abdominals (rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis), lower back (erector spinae), hip flexors, quadriceps and inner thighs.
Yes, you’ll get all of that in just one floor exercise with this tool.
a. Sit on a mat, legs bent, ball between lower legs.
b. Place inner part of feet against ball, with half the ball above and half the ball beneath feet so that it’s stable.
c. Lift it off the floor, legs still bent. Keep hands off floor throughout entire exercise; they can be in the air, on head, or arms crossed at chest.
d. Keeping ball snug between feet and off the floor, extend legs (straighten knee joints). At no time does ball touch floor.
e. Bring legs back in (bend them) and lie on back, keeping legs bent.
f. As back makes contact with the mat, the thighs rotate to vertical, with calves forming a 90-degree angle with thighs.
g. Now, straighten legs so that the entire legs are vertical (knee extension). Your body is now in the shape of an “L.” More flexible trainees should pull their legs towards chest while keeping legs straight.
h. Now, bend only the knees, as much as possible. Remember, the entire time the ball is between feet. Keeping feet clasped to the ball to prevent it from slipping out requires engagement of the inner thigh muscles.
i. Legs still bent, rock back up into a seated upright position (your original position), legs bent, ball never touching floor. That was one repetition.
Repeat all these movements for up to 20 repetitions, all without letting the ball make contact with the floor, and without putting hands on floor.
This will be a difficult move for many people, including those who believe they’re very fit. A person with “strong abs” will not necessarily be able to do this exercise without dropping the ball or letting it touch the floor.
Other components of the exercise may prove quite challenging, such as rocking back up after lying down, or straightening the legs while lying down.
Though no weighty objects are used, the trainee will quickly realize just how tough this series of movements are without having to cheat. The hip, lower back and knee joints will get strengthened.
2. Handless Straight-Leg V Crunch
a. Sit on mat, ball between feet, legs straight, hands off mat.
b. Tilt back and raise legs, keeping them straight, so that your body forms a “V.”
c. Make the V as narrow as possible by folding up as tightly as possible, that is, bringing straight legs as close to chest as possible, all while keeping ball between feet and keeping hands off floor.
d. Upon reaching the limit of closeness, unfold (widen the V), bringing back closer to the matt and legs closer to the floor, but don’t unfold to the point where the ball touches the floor. Keep legs straight.
e. When ball is only inches from floor, fold back up again into a narrow V. See how many reps you can do. This engages the entire core and hip flexors.
3. V Pelvic Twists
a. Assume the V position as above, except you won’t be narrowing or widening the V.
Instead you’ll be swiveling at the hips to rotate the ball. This means as you rotate, one leg will be above the other, so if you rotate counterclockwise, the right leg will be above the left.
b. As you reverse the rotation to the other side, the left leg will be on top of the right. Note: Legs must remain straight! A common error is to bend the legs and “bicycle” through the movement.
c. At each final point of a rotation, the sole of one’s foot should be facing the wall ahead.
This exercise is very, very difficult when done properly. Try for eight reps. Remember, legs stay straight, and try to rotate the ball 45 degrees from the starting position.
4. V Hip Flexion
This may be the trickiest of ab exercises with stability ball. A person’s abs may be strong enough to carry him or her through a set of clapping or plyometric pushups, yet this very person can easily struggle with this exercise because it requires hip flexor range of motion.
a. Place ball near a parallel bar that’s about 40-50 inches, give or take, off the floor. This can be the height of a barbell in a bench press stand, or the height of a rack used to hold stability balls.
The distance that the ball is from the base of the bar will vary, depending on trainee’s height, core conditioning and hip flexor conditioning/strength.
b. The objective is to sit on the ball, without holding onto anything (including the ball) and tap both feet simultaneously to the bar, then release and tap the floor with both toes, then immediately raise feet back up to the bar—up to 20 reps.
This exercise is very, very advanced!
A partner should stand behind the trainee to prevent trainee from toppling backwards. However, trainee should not lean on partner or become reliant upon getting caught by the partner.
This movement can be modified by using a lower height bar to tap against, and/or by lifting one leg at a time while the other leg is coming down.
Another easier version is to do this sitting on a low stool or bench.
Once a person gets going with this, getting into a rhythm, he or she will really feel the abdominals working, as well as major work from the hip flexors. The lower back will also be engaged, even though one may not feel it working.
So there you have it, the top 4 stability ball exercises for abs, but also for the entire core and even hip flexors. Next time you hear “exercise ball abs,” don’t just think of the same ‘ol mundane crunches.
Try one of these super exercises!
The abs and core are highly versatile parts of the body and thus, are capable of so many different kinds of strength exercises.
If you’re serious about giving your abs the most dynamic and effective exercises, check out No-Nonsense Muscle Building Program by Vince DelMonte.
You will learn how to most effectively work the abdominals, including which non-ab-targeting exercises really bring out this muscle group, and how to eat to take off the fat that’s hiding your six-pack.
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