Stability Ball Exercises: Ab Crunch

An ab crunch performed on a stability ball will work your rectus abdominis muscles (the six pack muscles), toning and strengthening your stomach. Not only will this help you to look good, it will also help you with your posture and with aerobic exercise, as the rectus abdominis assist with breathing and also help support your spine in some positions. Performing this exercise on the stability ball ensures that you use a wide range of muscle groups to keep your balance, so you will also be giving your glutes, lower back and even your leg muscles a small workout as well.

How to Perform the Ab Crunch on a Stability Ball

First, make sure you have the right size stability ball. When sitting on the center of it, your knees should be about level with your hips, and your thighs roughly parallel to the ground. Also, ensure the area around you is free from sharp objects and anything that might bump the ball while you are doing the crunch.

  1. Sit on the ball with your legs at shoulder width. Walk your feet forward until you are lying on the ball with your weight resting on the small of your back. Your feet should be under your knees and pointing straight ahead. You should be able to touch the floor with your fingers.
  2. Either cross your arms across your chest or rest your hands at the back of your head, but be careful not to try and use them to pull your upper body up. You only want to use your abdominals.
  3. Inhale deeply, then exhale as you tighten your stomach muscles, pulling your belly button towards your spine. Lift your upper body as you do so, but keep your lower body stable. The stability ball should not move or roll. 
  4. Inhale as you relax your stomach muscles. Be careful not to jerk or release suddenly. Each movement should be controlled. This will prevent injury and increase the effectiveness of the exercise. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. 

How to Increase Ab Crunch Difficulty

Increasing the number of repetitions and sets of ab crunches should be sufficient for most beginners. However, there are a couple of ways to increase the effectiveness of each rep. Try holding a medicine ball or weight at the top of your chest to increase the difficulty of the crunch. Alternatively you can hold the weight or ball over your head with your elbows slightly bent, but be careful not to use it to increase your momentum during the crunch.

For those who are quite advanced, it can be useful to increase the size of your stability ball, but this should be done carefully as it is much easier to fall off and injure yourself on a larger ball.

Ab crunches are one of the standard exercises for those who want trim and toned abdominals as well as good posture. Performing this classic exercise on a stability ball can add a new challenge, as well as help to strengthen other muscles and improve balance.

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