Core Exercises on the Ball

What is stabilization training? Stabilization training focuses on laying a foundation for future progressions of fitness. It emphasizes balance in the musculoskeletal system and improving both postural and core stability. I always start with this focus in BBB and use it regularly in my own training. As a beginner, stabilization is a great place to start and build upon for beginner level clients. As a more advanced exerciser, stabilization allows for recovery and aids in the maintenance of muscular control to prevent the risk of injury in other more intense styles of training. It keeps our bodies balanced and capable.

According to study results presented at the annual meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR), an exercise program that utilizes a Swiss ball can benefit people withankylosing spondylitis by improving muscle strength and walking performance. Researchers from Brazil randomly assigned 60 ankylosing spondylitis patients to one of two groups. One group participated in a 16-week program involving 8 exercises on the Swiss ball with free weights two times a week. The second group, serving as the control group, continued with their usual drug treatment regimen with no exercise.

The group that used the Swiss ball improved strength in several muscle groups, including abdominal muscles and triceps, and performed significantly better than the control group on the 6-minute walk test at the end of 16 weeks. Researchers concluded that using the Swiss ball improves function, strength, and mobility without harmful effects on disease activity among ankylosing spondylitis patients

 

This core workout focuses on using an exercise ball to strengthen all of the muscles in the absand back including the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, internal/external obliques and the erector spinae.   These moves will also challenge your balance, stability and overall coordination, making this a multi-purpose workout. The moves progress in difficulty, so take your time and use a wall for balance if you feel wobbly

According to study results presented at the annual meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR), an exercise program that utilizes a Swiss ball can benefit people withankylosing spondylitis by improving muscle strength and walking performance. Researchers from Brazil randomly assigned 60 ankylosing spondylitis patients to one of two groups. One group participated in a 16-week program involving 8 exercises on the Swiss ball with free weights two times a week. The second group, serving as the control group, continued with their usual drug treatment regimen with no exercise.

The group that used the Swiss ball improved strength in several muscle groups, including abdominal muscles and triceps, and performed significantly better than the control group on the 6-minute walk test at the end of 16 weeks. Researchers concluded that using the Swiss ball improves function, strength, and mobility without harmful effects on disease activity among ankylosing spondylitis patients.

 

Choosing an Exercise Ball
Before you buy a ball, make sure it’s the right size for your height. To test it, sit on the ball and make sure your hips are level or just slightly higher than the knees :

55 cm – 4’11” – 5’4″
65 cm – 5’5″ – 5’11”
75 cm – 6’0″ – 6′ 7″

If you’re overweight or obese, you might be wondering if you can use an exercise ball. Many companies sell burst-resistant balls that often hold 600 or more pounds, such as Ball Dynamics. You can find exercise balls at most department stores (Target, Walmart, etc.), sporting goods stores or you can order it online. One of my favorite companies, SPRI offers quality exercise balls at reasonable prices.

How To Use Your ExerciseBall
Exercise balls challenge by putting your body in an unstable environment. When you lie on the ball, your legs and abs immediately contract to keep you from falling off. Add an exercise to that (like a chest press or a crunch), and you’ve just increased the intensity of the movement.Bonus: Exercise balls are versatile enough to use for just about anything, including:

  • Weight training. Use the stability ball as your new ‘weight bench’ to add difficulty to the movements and incorporate the muscles of your legs, butt and abs.
  • Abdominal training. Doing crunches, twists and other traditional exercises on the ball adds difficulty to the movement by recruiting more muscles as in this [link urk=http://exercise.about.com/cs/abs/l/bl_core.htm]Core Workout.
  • Sitting around. Just sitting on an exercise ball can be a challenge and it’s a great way toimprove your posture when sitting in front of a computer or watching television. Practice by sitting on it and raising one foot off the ground and balancing or try some of thesebeginner ball exercises.
  • Flexibility, yoga and pilates exercises. The ball is great for stretching and relaxing, such as in this Relaxing Stretch on the Ball workout or this Yoga on the Ball workout.
  • Playing around. It’s a workout tool but, don’t forget, it’s also a ball. Your kids will love playing with it, just keep an eye on them so they don’t hurt themselves.

Exercise Ball Workouts
Your best source of ball workouts are exercise videos. Check out Collage Video’s exercise ball videos or this database of exercise ball videos and books for basic exercises. For a variety of workouts, from strength training to yoga, visit my Exercise Ball Workouts for ideas.

 

 

How To

  • Warm up with 5-10 minutes of cardio or do this workout after your regular cardio or strength routine
  • Perform 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps of each exercise, taking care to perfect your form before increasing sets or reps.
  • Avoid any moves that cause pain or or discomfort
  • When first trying these exercises, hold onto a wall or prop the ball against something sturdy for added stability.
Back Extension

Position the ball under your hips and lower torso with the knees straight or bent.  With hands behind the head or behind back, slowly roll down the ball.  Lift your chest off the ball, bringing your shoulders up until your body is in a straight line.  Make sure your body is in alignment (i.e., head, neck, shoulders and back are in a straight line), your abs are pulled in and that don’t hyperextend the back. Repeat for 12-16 reps.
Ball BalancePosition the ball under your abs and hips, hands on the floor and legs straight and off the floor.  Hold that position, keeping your body in a straight line, abs pulled in.  Working to stay balanced, slowly raise your right arm out to the side, taking care not to roll or allow any part of your body to collapse. Hold briefly, lower the arm and repeat on the other side.  Repeat for 12-16 reps, alternating arms.
Butt Lift

Lie on the ball with the head, neck and shoulders supported, knees bent and body in a table-top position.  Lower the hips towards the floor without rolling on the ball.  Squeeze the glutes to raise hips until body is in a straight line like a bridge.  Hold weights on the hips for added intensity and make sure you press through the heels and not the toes.  Repeat for 12-16 reps

Hip Extension

Lie down with feet heels propped on ball.  Keeping abs tight, slowly lift your hips off the floor (squeezing the glutes) until body is in a straight line.  Hold for a few seconds and lower.  For added intensity, lift the hips and then take one leg off the ball, hold for a moment and lower.  Repeat for 12-16 reps.

Ab Roll

Place your hands on the ball in front of you, arms parallel.  Pulling your belly button towards your spine and tightening your torso, slowly roll forward, rolling the ball out as far as you can without arching or straining the back.  Push the elbows into the ball and squeeze the abs to pull the body back to start.  Avoid this move if you have back problems.  Repeat for 12-16 reps.

Ball RotationLie with ball under shoulders and lower back and hold a light-medium medicine ball over the chest.  Hold your body in a straight line from hips to knees.  Tightening your glutes and abs, slowly twist your body to the left, sweeping med ball parallel to the floor, then back up, repeating on the other side.  Watch your knees on this move and allow them to turn naturally with the body so you don’t injure them.  Repeat for 12-16 reps, alternating sides.
Ball Twist

Get into a pushup position with the feet on either side of the ball (turning your ankles so that you are hugging the ball).  Hold body in a straight line with abs pulled in, hips straight and hands directly under shoulders.  Slowly rotate the ball to the right while trying to keep your shoulders level, then to the left.  Repeat for 12-16 reps, alternating sides.