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February 20, 2022

Top 10 Exercise Ball Ab Workouts for Killer Abs

What a Strong Core is Important ?

 

The body can be split up into two main parts, the upper body and the lower body. Joining the two is of course the core, consisting of the muscles in your abdomen and you back.

 

According to the Harvard Medical School the core Is

 

“a group of muscles that stabilizes and controls the pelvis and spine (and therefore influences the legs and upper body).”

 

As you can see these muscles play an incredibly important role of keeping you safe. We as humans experience all sorts of external forces upon us, and without a strong core, these forces could lead to injury. A study published in the National Library of Medicine in 2013 found that training the core muscles can lead to less injuries, even just in your daily life.

 

Benefits of Strong Core

 

The core is not only is important for fitness related activities but every day activities from sitting, walking and lifting. The Harvard Medical School succinctly summarizes the benefits of s strong core, namely being able to the following activities:

 

  • Day to day activities like bending and turning
  • Work related activities that involve standing, lifting and twisting
  • Help to stop the occurrence or reduce difficulties with low back pain
  • Good balance and stability
  • Maintain a good posture

What size Exercise Ball is right for you?

Choosing the right size exercise ball is important for ensuring your perform the exercise at the optimum level to gain the benefit and also to ensure your body is correctly supported to reduce the risk of any injuries.

 

The following practical guide should be used to help you determine which one is right for you:

 

  • After inflating the exercise ball, it should be at knee level when you stand next to it
  • When you sit on the exercise ball your legs should be 90 degrees, feet should be flat and your thighs should be parallel to the floor. Your hips should be parallel or just above the knees. If the ball is too big your feet won’t be flat on the ground or if it is too small your pelvis and hips will feel compressed
  • When you lie stomach down on the exercise ball your spine should be neutral. If you arch your back a smaller size is needed as there is too much pressure on your back.

 

However, we have also detailed below a guide by the two most important factors for picking the right ball – body height and weight as in most cases you won’t be able to try it before you buy it.

 

Height Weight Ball Diameter
Under 150cm Under 50kg 45cm
150 – 160cm 50 – 60kg 55cm
160 – 170cm 60 – 70kg 65cm
170 – 180cm 70 – 80kg 75cm
180cm and up 80kg and up 85cm

 

Common Mistakes to Avoid

With any equipment or exercise, you’ll have to make sure to use the equipment properly, and do the exercise correctly to avoid injury.

 

  • Using the wrong size exercise ball which will not result in optimal exercise performance and may result in injury as your starting position is not correct
  • Not engaging the core. The purpose of using these balls (for the exercises discussed) is to train the abdominals. Humans have a tendency to let the strain go to another muscle to cope. Try to keep the focus on the core or abdominal muscles as that is the goal of these exercises.
  • Working with an under or overinflated ball. Ensuring the ball has the correct amount of air in to support you and the activity is important, failure to do so could lead to injury.
  • Not performing the exercises with the correct technique

 

10 Exercise Ball Exercises

 

1) Exercise Ball Crunch

This is a pretty entry level exercise, but when combined with the correct rep and set scheme, it can be very beneficial. This can be done by beginners.

  • Set the Exercise Ball on the floor, and sit on it.
  • Scooch down, so that the ball is supporting your lower back and you are lying on it. Your knees should be bent at 90 degrees.
  • Place your hands behind your head, brace your core, and raise your torso slightly off the ball. Not a full sit up.
  • Once you’ve raised your torso slightly off the ball, lower it back down. This is one rep.

 

Target muscles are the abdominals, especially the upper abdominals.

 

2) Exercise Ball Oblique Crunch

Also a beginner exercise, this is very similar to the normal Exercise Ball Crunch, but with a twist. Haha.

  • Set the Exercise Ball on the floor, and sit on it.
  • Scooch down, so that the ball is supporting your lower back and you are lying on it. Your knees should be bent at 90 degrees.
  • Place your hands behind your head, brace your core, and raise your torso slightly off the ball. While you do this, twist your upper body. Your right elbow should “aim” for your left hip, and visa versa. Not a full sit up.
  • Once you’ve raised your torso slightly off the ball, lower it back down. Repeat with the other side. This is one rep.

 

Target muscles are the upper abdominals as well as the obliques.

 

3) Exercise Ball Plank, Feet Lower

The plank is one of the best core exercises, particularly for your transverse abdominals. Those are important for keeping good posture.

  • Set the ball down on the floor, and sit on your knees (on the ground) behind the ball.
  • Place your forearms on the ball, and straighten your legs in a plank like fashion, so that you’re effectively planking on the ball. This will require quite a bit of core stability.

 

The target muscles are the entire core.

 

4) Exercise Ball Plank Rollouts

These can be very tricky, but has the added benefit of also working the serratus anterior as well.

  • Get into the Plank position mentioned above.
  • Roll the ball in a circular fashion, with your forearms still on the ball. This will place great emphasis on your abdominals.
  • Once one rotation is done, do the rotation in reverse. That’s one rep.

 

The target muscles are the entire core, the transverse abdominals and the serratus anterior.

 

5) Exercise Ball Plank, Feet Higher

As the name implies, you will be planking using the exercise ball, but your feet will be raised this time. This will make the exercise quite a lot harder. This is not for beginners.

  • Set the ball down on the floor, and place your shins on the ball, supporting your upper body by placing your hands on the floor.
  • Straighten your legs so that only your feet are on the ball, and place your hands on the ground – get into the plank position.

 

The target muscles are the entire core.

 

6) Exercise Ball Tuck

This one can be difficult to execute, but is one of the best core exercises period.

  • Assume a push up position, but place your shins on the ball.
  • By bending your legs, allowing the ball to roll underneath your body. Do not do this fast, the goal of the movement is to use your core to bend your legs and not momentum.
  • Once the ball is underneath you as far as it’ll go, return the ball to the original position – slowly.

 

Target muscles are the entire core.

 

7) Exercise Ball Pike

This is probably the hardest exercise on this list. Do not attempt unless your core is immensely strong.

  • Virtually the same as the Exercise Ball Tuck, but instead of bending your legs to have the ball roll in, you raise your hips, keeping your legs straight, and roll the ball in accordingly.

 

Target muscles are the entire core.

 

8) Exercise Ball Hand-to-Feet Pass

This one is great for targeting the entire abdominal muscle group, as well as helping you work on your breathing and stability. You do not have to use a full sized ball for this, a smaller ball might be easier to handle.

  • Lie on your back with the ball in your hands, arms spread out above your head.
  • Raise both your legs and arms off the ground at the same time.
  • When your arms and feet come together in the midline of your body, pass the ball from your hands to between your feet.
  • Lower both the arms and legs to the ground. Once the ball touches the ground, raise the arms and legs again.
  • Pass the ball back to your hands. This is one rep.

 

Target muscles are the entire abdominals, as well as the Serratus Anterior.

 

9) Exercise Ball Mountain Climbers

These are such a great way of training the entire abdominal muscle as well as helping with general fitness as well.

  • Place your hands on the ball, and set your feet back so that you are assuming the push up position.
  • Once you are stable, raise one knee towards your chest. Once you reach the chest, lower the leg back to the original position. Repeat with the other leg. That’s one rep.

 

10) Feet Elevated Crunch

Finishing off with the golden oldie – this one will predominantly be for beginners, or as a finisher for more experienced lifters.

  • Lay on your back in front of the ball, and place your legs on the ball. Your calves should be on the ball.
  • Brace your core, and raise your torso off the floor. You can either place your hands behind your neck, or on your chest.
  • Once your torso is off the floor, and you cannot raise it anymore, lower it back down to the starting position. That’s one rep.

Workouts

Exercise Ball Abs Beginners Workout 1

Exercise Ball Abs Beginners Workout 2

Exercise Ball Abs Intermediate Workout 1

Exercise Ball Abs Intermediate Workout 2

Exercise Ball Abs Hard Workout 1

Exercise Ball Abs Hard Workout 2

In Conclusion

Try these exercise ball workouts to target your abs and you should see results in no time. Let us know how you get on !

 

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Steve


Steve Theunissen is from New Zealand and is a qualified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist with over 30 years experience. Read more about Steve in the 'about us' page.

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