The stability ball can add extra resistance to your basic crunch exercise and along with that extra resistance, you’ll build more strength and tone in your muscles. You should only attempt the crunch on an exercise ball once you’ve gotten used to performing the crunch on the floor, as you’ll have to juggle maintaining the right position for the exercise along with maintaining your balance. If you cannot maintain both, you won’t be getting the maximum benefit of the exercise and you could potentially injure yourself.
The Targeted Muscles
The muscles targeted by the crunch, whether on a stability ball or not, primarily include the abdominal muscles, specifically the rectus abdominis. The exercise can also target the hip muscles (specifically the hip flexors) if you don’t keep your core straight or tighten your abdominal muscles while you work out. The correct way to perform the crunch is to avoid targeting the hip muscles. The exercise can also work out the hamstrings in the thighs and the glutes in the buttocks.
The Exercise Basics
As you perform the crunch on the stability ball, you should have the ball placed on a stable, non-slippery surface. In order to correctly perform the crunch, do the following:
- Carefully sit down on the stability ball. Prepare your pelvic and abdominal area to give you the needed support by tightening the muscles in that area.
- Slowly move out your legs and lean back in order to slide the surface of the ball against your back. You should rest with the ball nestled into the curve of your lower back. Your feet should be flat against the ground as far as possible.
- Bring your hands into fists and position them under your chin. Your elbows should be located slightly below the middle of your chest and your arms should be flat against your chest.
- Keep your abdominal muscles tightened and your upper body and neck straight. Slowly roll up, keeping your knees bent and stable in order to support your weight. Hold when sitting up in a stable position.
- Roll back so that your back is raised about halfway off of the ball, keeping your buttocks on the ball. Keep your core straight and do not bring the back all the way back down to the ball.
- Repeat for at least five to ten crunches. You can add more crunches as you build resistance.
Make sure that the stability ball is on a stable, impact-resistant surface, such as a gym or yoga mat or a bare expanse of grass. Do not use the ball on a rug or carpet or on a slippery surface. Keep your feet flat on the ground as you perform this exercise and do not move up and down too quickly.
Adding More Challenge
You can make the exercise more of a workout on your muscles by bringing your feet closer to the ball as you perform a crunch. This forces you to keep the thigh and abdominal muscles contracted in order to remain balanced.