Ball Exercises for the Abdominals

The stability ball, often called a Swiss or fitness ball, got its start as a tool for physical therapy and rehabilitation in Switzerland in the 1960s. Strength training your abdominal muscles with a stability ball allows a greater range of motion than crunches on the floor and balances the strength of the muscles in your back and abdomen.

Crunches

Unlike traditional crunches performed on the floor, stability ball crunches let you extend back past the point where your body is parallel with the floor to hit your lower abdominal muscles. Sit on your ball with your feet flat on the floor. Walk your body forward until your shoulders rest on the ball. Your knees should be at a 90-degree angle. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows out to each side. Curl your body up while exhaling and contracting your abs. Lift your upper back off the ball and slowly return to the starting position.

Side Bends

Side bends, also called oblique crunches, work the oblique muscles running along each side of your abdomen. Perform side bends on each side of your body to work both obliques. Lie on your side with your hips, waist and shoulder resting on the ball. Stagger your feet for stability and place your hands behind your head. Slowly raise your upper body, bringing your elbow toward your hip while keeping your hip firmly planted on the ball. Inhale as you return to the starting position.

Plank

The plank works your abdominal muscles, as well as your lower back, by using your own body weight for resistance. While the plank can be performed on the floor, the stability ball requires your core to work at stabilizing your body throughout the movement. Lie facedown on your stability ball with your hands and feet on the floor. Slowly walk your hands forward until your thighs rest on top of the ball. Keep your hands directly below your shoulders, contract your abdomen and hold as long as you can. Walk your body back to the starting position. For an extra challenge, walk your hands forward until the ball supports only your shins.

Knee Tucks

Knee tucks on the stability ball target your quads, calves, shins and abdominal muscles. Start the exercise as if you were doing the plank by lying on your stomach and walking your hands forward until the ball sits under your thighs. Pull your knees toward your chest as you exhale, rolling the ball down your leg to your shins. Hold the position, and extend your legs to return to the starting plank position.

About this Author

Lydia Stephens began writing professionally in 2009. She has written online for Nile Guides, SheKnows.com and various other websites and has been published in “Stringing Magazine” and “Xiamen Wave.” Stephens played competitive soccer for 19 years, has been weight lifting since 2007 and enjoys running, biking and sailing. She has a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the University of Texas.