Stability Ball Exercises for the Abdominal Wall
OK so here is a group of exercises that take some real balls to execute. Stability balls in fact. (Also known as Swiss Balls) “Sorry about that comment people but I live in San Francisco where the weird move to turn pro.” This article is going to cover some of my favorite stability ball exercises for the abs and demonstrate through prose and photos how to do them.
For those of you who don’t know of Stability Balls they are rubber balls that come in a variety of sizes that allow one to do a series of exercises at home using body weight as the main resistance. One of the advantages of this type of exercise is you can work on core stability at the same time due to the unstable nature of doing ones exercise on an object that is lets say…. less than perfectly stable. I’ve put together a few for abs that are easy to do and do wonders for your abs… that is… if you do them.
There are a variety of Stability ball exercises for abs and these are just a few of my favorites.
The first one I’d like to offer is known as the Swiss Ball Chop. You’ll need a weight of some sort be it a dumbbell, weighted ball, or even a milk jug full of water. You start with the weight high and swing it to the opposing side as if you were chopping wood. Many people do the opposite as well, starting with the weight low and then raising it high to the opposite side. Both of these are very good at activating the obliques and abs and are more difficult than you might imagine just looking at them
Speed is not as important as form with these as the form is the component that is going to develop your strength. In other words, keep this in control at all times not a spastic flailing of ones bits.
The next one I submit to you is the Stability Ball Ab Crawl. It is sort of like the Plank which I covered in an article called “Static Core Strengthening” but this adds the dynamics of motion to the movement.
One starts this face down with their body resting on the ball legs outstretched behind them and arms reaching for the floor. You then walk on your knuckles/or hands forward until the feet are on the ball and the abs are keeping your torso parallel to the ground. Hold this position for ten seconds to a minute then walk back to the start position
Next in this program is the Swiss Ball Crunch. I am sure many of you already do a crunch of some sort or another this is just a version using the ball which again engages the balance/proprioceptive system in the exercise which from my perspective makes it a little harder hence more interesting and effective for you. You start in a normal face up position with your feet flat on the ground. I don’t like gripping the back of the head with my hands as many people then use the head/neck as a lever to PULL the shoulders up. I prefer to put the thumbs on eight side of my jaw exerting no stress into the neck or lace my fingers together across my chest or under my chin. This just removes the temptation to pull on the neck.
Which leads us to the last exercise, the Stability Ball Ab Extension. This one is done laying on your back on the floor with the Ball held between your calves. The knees are bent at ninety degrees with your thighs perpendicular to the floor. One then slowly extends/straightens the legs out putting stress onto the lower abs. Do this one slowly with a pause of ten to thirty seconds on the bottom before you return to the start position.
OK so… remember speed is NOT the goal here but control. You will also want to make all of these progressive meaning more time on the hold and or more reps as you gain strength and skill level with these maneuvers.
Remember, stability ball exercises for abs are safe, fun, and a reliable way to strengthen your abs.
These exercises are NOT for everyone hell, you have to have at least one ball to do them. But I think if you have a Swiss/stability Ball and or get one, you’ll like these exercises. See how they have two benefit for you, strength and balance, and believe me we can all use more of that. Particularly as we begin to age.