Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Having a Ball: Stability Ball Core Exercises

Stability balls are a great way to throw fun into your workout routine with the added bonus of improving your balance. Your local gym will probably have some, but if you can, invest in a stability ball so you can do these workouts in the comfort of your own home, which saves you a trip out. These exercises help strengthen your core and your legs, which gives your more power on your runs and better balance on the bike and in the water.

Planking with a Tap

Chances are you are no stranger to planks. This variation helps spice up planks by adding in the stability ball. You should be balancing on the stability ball with the shin area of your legs. Your toes will slightly hang off of the stability ball. Get into a plank position, but instead of bending your arms, they should be extended while you balance on the ball. Once you find your balance, take your left arm and cross it across your body and tap your right shoulder with your left hand. Place your hand back on the floor and regain your balance. When you have your balance switch arms so that your right hand taps your left shoulder. Repeat alternating which arm taps your shoulder to get the most out of this exercise.

Side Planks

On the subject of planking, why not try side planks with your stability ball? To do this exercise, lie on your right side. Your right elbow should be bent so it can prop you up. Place your right foot on the stability ball with your left leg resting on top of your right leg. When you are ready, prop up your elbow and find your balance. Your body should be straight and parallel to the floor with the left side of your body facing the ceiling and your right side towards the floor. Hold the position for 30 seconds, or as long as you can, before resting for your next set.  

Crunches

Crunches on the stability ball heighten the results you would get from doing normal crunches. Lie on the stability ball where your lower back and your shoulder blades are touching the ball. Then place your hands behind your head like you would to do a normal crunch. Personally, I like to place just the finger tips on my head so I know the difference between when my abs are pulling me up versus me pulling my head up thinking I’m doing a proper crunch. When you crunch you want to aim your left elbow to your right knee. Doing crunches across your body instead of up and down will work your obliques.

                                                      picture courtesy of food.ndtv.com

Pass the Ball

Known as the “Ball Pass” or the “V-sit” this is a must do exercise with a stability ball. To start this exercise, lie on the ground with the stability ball above your head. Grab the stability ball and raise both your arms and your legs to where your body makes a “V” shape. When you are in the “V” shape, place the ball in-between your feet so you have a nice grip. Then lie back down. Move into a “V” shape again bringing the ball in-between your feet back to your hands. This will give you one of the best crunches in your life.

Wall Sits Refined

Wall sits are simple to do and are great at working out your thighs. Wall sits with a stability ball are even more intense. Find a nice wall space where you have room to squat. Place the ball between you and the wall and press up against it so the ball does not fall. Go into a sitting position as if you were on an invisible chair. The ball should be touching your shoulder blades all the way down to your lower back. Your feet should be shoulder width apart to avoid any injuries. Hold the position for ten seconds and then return to standing. Do a few sets to work your way up to longer set times.

The Body Pike

This exercise is essential if you have a stability ball, although if you are not comfortable balancing on one yet I would master that before attempting this stretch. Start with the ball balancing in-between your feet and the floor. Your feet should be pointed and your hands should be shoulder width apart. Slowly and carefully roll the ball towards you while you lift your hips, so your hips are right above your shoulders. Your torso and upper body should be straight up and down, while your legs point out balancing on the stability ball. If you are having trouble balancing or going up all the way to the peak position, go as far as you can to build your body’s strength up till you can go straight up and down.

Modified Mountain Climbers

Get into a push-up position with the stability ball in-between your hands and the floor. The stability ball will be what you hold during this exercise. When you are balanced on the ball, take your right knee and tap the ball while keeping your right leg extended. Return your left leg back to the starting position and bring your right knee up to tap the ball. Alternate your legs back and forth tapping the ball to feel the burn of this core workout.

Hopefully you enjoyed these workouts and had a blast while doing the different stretches. If you are having trouble balancing on the ball keep working on it and you will improve. Add these workouts into your routine to change up the mundane schedule and work muscle groups you wouldn’t normally.

Happy Training!


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