If you're looking for a way to tighten and flatten your stomach, exercise ball ab workouts provide a change from standard sit-ups and crunches. Not only is it easier on your back, but using an exercise ball for your ab routine can help strengthen and stabilize all of your core muscles and improve your posture.
Using an Exercise Ball for Ab Workouts
When performing the exercise ball ab workout, you do many of the exercises in the supine position, which means face up on your back. If you are not experienced at using an exercise ball, it's a good idea to practice the supine position before beginning your work out.
- Keep feet out wide on the floor to estabilish a base of stability.
- Place hands on either side of the ball and gradually walk feet forward.
- Keep your knees bent.
- Lower your rear towards the floor while remaining in a more or less upright position, tilting back only slightly.
- Sustain steady pressure on the ball while lowering your body until the ball supports the small of your back.
If you are in the correct position on the appropriately sized ball for your height, your fingertips should be able to touch the floor. Develop a comfort level for this position by rocking side to side. It's important to keep your head and back in a neutral position, even during the exercise process. When you maintain your balance without feeling like you might tip onto the floor you're ready for some basic ab exercises. In some cases, you may also perform ab exercises in a prone (face down) position.
Perform the following exercises on non-consecutive days for two or three days per week. Aim for 10-15 reps and one or two sets of each move.
Incline Pelvic Tilt
In the supine position, tighten the abs. It helps to imagine contracting your muscles until your belly button touches the back of your spine. This keeps your pelvis tilted at a slight angle for the exercise. Then, with your hands behind your head, lift your upper body slightly without putting stress on you neck. Keep your eyes trained on something overhead to keep your head in the right position.
For this exercise, start with your arms across your chest. Keeping your feet and the hips stationary, tighten your stomach muscles, reminding yourself to pull the belly button toward the spine. Next, gradually flex forward with your upper torso. If your neck becomes fatigued, support your head by placing your hands behind it.
Incline Double Crunch
Pull in your stomach muscles with belly button down and in, and execute a curl with your torso while performing a pelvic tilt.
Incline Oblique Curl
Keep feet and hips stationary as you pull in and tighten your stomach muscles. Flex forward; keep the head and neck supported as you rotate your ribcage toward the opposite hip.
Kneel with the ball about a foot in front of you, and place both hands on the top of it. Tighten your abdominal and torso muscles, and begin a controlled roll forward, going as far as you can without straining your back. Next, push your elbows toward one another and tighten your abdominals to return to the upright position.
In a face down (prone) position, place the ball under your hips, chest and abdominals with the toes and balls of your feet on the floor. Lightly place your hands behind your head. Using your tightened stomach and lower back muscles, lift your chest off the ball, fully extending your back.
Benefits of Exercising with a Ball
Working with an exercise ball has many benefits.
- Comfort: Because the exercise ball conforms to your back, it enables you to exercise your abs without strain.
- Increases Difficulty: Don't let this benefit scare you away. The ball makes it easier to advance the difficulty level of the exercises you perform.
- Practical: The exercise ball not only lets you exercise in the privacy of your home at any time, but it can be used as a desk chair to help strengthen your core while you work.
Choosing the Right Exercise Ball
Before you buy your exercise ball, it's important to learn what size ball is right for you. In general, ball size is based on height:
|Ball Circumference||Ball Height||Your Height|
|55 cm.||21 inches||4' 11" - 5' 4"|
|65 cm.||25 inches||5' 5" to 5' 11"|
You no longer have an excuse for putting off those fitness goals because you hate to do crunches. Abdominal exercises are critical if you want to flatten that stomach and develop muscle tone. In fact, exercising your stomach and back muscles should be part of your daily routine. A full set of exercises should only take 10 to 20 minutes to complete, so it's easy to make time in your day to exercise your abdominals using an exercise ball.