Written with love, by Nikki Lian
I’m sure you’ve all seen a stability ball or “exercise” ball at some point, whether it be in a gym, at someone’s house, in a store or in someone’s office. Stability balls have many uses, mostly for exercise. If at a desk all day on the computer, some people choose to sit on stability balls rather than their own chairs to help with posture, back pain, etc.
Stability balls can help anyone improve his or her fitness and work the core muscles (abs, back, hip flexors) in one’s body. Here is a compilation of some of (what I think) are the most effective stability ball exercises to target your abdominals:
Lie on your exercise ball with your lower back pressed against the ball. Cross your arms over your chest, or your put your hands behind your ears (just make sure you’re not pulling your neck) - whichever is more comfortable. Slowly perform a crunch with your hips stationary. The ball is supposed to help isolate your abdominal muscles so you’re not using any other part of your body. If you still feel discomfort in your lower back, I noticed that it helps to put my feet up against the wall. But be careful, this can be a little more difficult to balance, so make sure you’re ready for that modification. Try timing yourself, and work your way up to a minute.
Lying on a mat, put the exercise ball under your left heel (left leg straight out) and put your right foot flat on the floor bending your right knee. With your right arm behind your head, pull the ball in with your left heel, and touch your right elbow to your left knee. Then return your leg and elbow to the starting position. This is isolating your left internal and external oblique muscles. Do 15 repetitions, and switch to the other leg.
Lying flat on your back with your legs straight out, place the exercise ball between your feet. Squeezing and holding onto the ball with your feet, bring both legs up slightly bending your knees, and grab the ball with your hands. While holding the ball with your hands, extend your arms above your head. Your legs should be moving back down coming close to the floor but not touching it. Doing the same movement, grab the ball from your hands with your two feet. This is an advanced abdominal exercise so start with a few repetitions (sometimes my clients start with one!) and work your way up to ten per set.
Stability balls can be found in a lot of different retail stores such as Target and Walmart, as well as sporting goods stores in general. I’ve seen them range from 8 bucks to around 25 dollars. They take up space but can fit in a closet, and are very useful for your every day exercise routine. Next week I’ll go over some stability ball leg workouts—working out your core as well as your glutes, hamstrings and thighs!