3 Core Stability Ball Exercises

Todd Galati: Hi. I’m Todd Galati from the American Council on Exercise. This is Julia, and today we’re going to teach you three great exercises that you can do using a stability ball that are good for everyone from the beginner through to the athlete. Before you use a stability ball for exercise, the first thing you want to do is select one that is the right size for you. There are several ways to do this, one of which is just simply to sit on the ball and see if, when you’re sitting on the ball, you should have about a 90 degree angle between your lower leg and your upper leg, right at the knee. Now, the first exercise we’re going to do is a traditional crunch using the stability ball. To do this, Julia first walks her feet forward until the stability ball is right under her low back. She puts her hands behind her head, but she does not; do not interlace your fingers. Instead, hold your hands like this and put them right at the back of your head. That prevents you from pulling forward on your head and putting unnecessary stress on your neck. Now, before Julia starts out, the first thing we always want to do in performing a crunch is, you want to draw the belly button in slightly. So, you draw the belly button in and pull the; tighten the abdominal muscles. That engages those core muscles. Then, we crunch: lift upwards and come back down. Julia then, again, tightens; draws in the abdomen. And she lifts her shoulders off the ball and comes back down. Because of the ball supporting her low back, she is able to extend back just a little bit more than if she were on a flat surface. And in addition to that, she can come up as far as about a 45 degree angle, with her upper back up at a 45 degree angle. Anything beyond that is excessive. When you’re doing abdominal crunches, you’ll want to do five, 10, 15, 20; however many repetitions are correct for your fitness level. The last exercise works Julia’s abdominal muscles: the rectus abdominis and the obliques on the side. This exercise is for the back extensor muscles that help us keep good posture, as well as the glutes. What this exercise is called is it’s called a “back extension.” The back extension starts with Julia; with her abdomen right on the stability ball. So, she’s actually supporting herself on the stability ball right on her abs. She has her feet spaced about a foot apart, to give her a stable base that helps to prevent her from rocking from side to side. To perform the back extension exercise, Julia brings her hands up behind her head. She then lowers herself down, letting these muscles (the back muscles) stretch out. Then she contracts the back muscles and brings herself up to a pretty straight position, similar to when she’s at normal standing posture. She then lowers herself back down and extends back up to a pretty straight position of normal back extension. Then the glutes are working as well to help her pull up into this position. She’s gonna lower herself back down. Notice that Julia does not go into an extreme hyperextension position. When you go into that extreme hyperextension position, you put a lot of pressure on the disks of the low back and the vertebrae of the low back. We already have enough low back issues in our society and in daily life, so we don’t need to increase our chances for those. So, we’ll have Julia perform one more and hold it, and then we’ll have her pull her feet closer together. This is going to actually increase the challenge because it makes it easier to roll from side to side. Only advance to this once you’ve mastered it with your feet a foot or so apart. We’ll have her drop back down and extend back up and drop back down and extend back up. With this exercise, this isn’t one where you’re doing repetitions and you’re only holding at the top for about a second. You’re not trying to hold it for five, 10, 15 seconds like you would a plank position. Our third exercise is a plank. There are a variety of different plank exercises that you can do. This one is a supine plank because she’s lying on her back with her feet on a stability ball. If you’ll notice, first of all, Julia actually has; her calves are the primary point of contact with the stability ball. She is lying with her hips back, shoulders, arms, and head all on the ground. Throughout the exercise, her shoulders, arms, and head are going to stay in contact with the ground. Her back and hips will actually rise up. To start the plank exercise, Julia is going to draw her belly button down slightly, engaging the core musculature. Then she’s going to contract her hip extensors: the hamstrings, the glutes, the back, and lift her body up into a plank position. A plank position is a straight line, essentially, from your shoulders, in this case, to her calf muscles, which are the point of contact with the stability ball. You can challenge yourself in two ways with the plank exercise. One of them is to do repetitions, which Julia will do right now, holding them for one to two seconds and dropping back down. Each time engaging the core musculature first by drawing the belly button in slightly, lifting up, holding, and then coming back down. We’ll have her do one more repetition. The second way is to go into the plank position and challenge yourself to hold it for five seconds, build up to 10 seconds, and progress forward. Now, we’ll have Julia drop down here for a second. If you want to then increase the challenge of the exercise further, we can move the stability ball out so that now Julia’s heels are on the stability ball. This makes the plank longer. So, now I’ll have Julia engage the abdominal muscles and the core musculature, pull up into the plank position, and now you can see that the ball’s wobbling a little bit more because now her feet are right on the ball. We’ll have her come back down. We’ll have her engage; contract the abdomen, pulling the belly button down, lifting up into a plank position and holding it. Any time you’re doing any exercise, from the plank to the crunches to the back extension, or any other exercise you do, once you can no longer perform the exercise with correct form, you’re done with that set. (Text on screen): ACE, American Council on Exercise, www.acefitness.org, www.youtube.com/acefitness

13 thoughts on “3 Core Stability Ball Exercises

  1. Nice video! But while doing the first exercise, you should try not to flex your neck so much, to prevent neck pain. Neck should be in one line with the body. As we see Julia doing this exercise, her neck is in a flexion (in her case, small flexion). In my practise, many people do this mistake, thus causing unnecessary stress for neck.

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