Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Portland, OR
Bikes: Surly LHT set up for commuting
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I use the ball for core training as well and it's really helped with back problems. Be sure to get the correct ball size (when seated your knees should be at 90°.
For all the exercises listed below, keep your transverse abs tight and in (i.e. pull your belly button in and down).
1) Plank. Feet on the ball, hands on the floor. Start with your hips on the ball and then slowly roll / arm walk out to this position. If it's too hard then keep the ball closer to your waist. Remember to keep the abs tight! Your butt should be slightly higher than your shoulders. 10 seconds, then recover and repeat 10x.
2) Crunches. Sit on the ball and have you toes against the wall. Tighten the abs and then slowly lean back until you feel your abs working. Hold that position for 10 seconds and then recover & repeat 10x.
3) Back crunch. Back on the floor, feet on the ball. Cross your arms and arch your butt off the floor, keeping the abs tight. Bringing the ball in closer will make it easier. Hold for 10 and then repeat 10x.
4) Reverse crunch. Kneel a foot or so from the ball. Starting with your wrists, roll out onto your elbows... your body should now be straight from the knees to your shoulders. Try to keep the belly off the ball. Hold the position for 10 seconds and repeat 10x.
5) Ball lift. Lie on your back and grab the ball with your ankles. Lift (slowly) over your head, keeping your abs tight. Repeat 25x or so.
6) Superman. Lie on the ball with your weight centered, facing down. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders (on the ground) and your toes should be on the ground. Lift the opposite hand a few inches and foot so it's level with the body and try to maintain balance. If that is easy, fully extend your arm so the arm, torso, and leg are in a flat line. Hold for 10 seconds and then do the opposite arm/leg. Repeat 10x.
Increase the duration of each hold when things get easier. You should try not to shake / bounce, that can lead to injury. Once you're doing 30+ seconds 10x times then you can start to add weight (ankle and wrist weights).
Finally, most exercise balls come with DVD workout videos. That can give you some ideas to build a routine (or just follow the video).