A medicine ball can really add an extra challenge to your exercises, making them more effective. Using a medicine ball when performing crunches on a stability ball will be extremely effective in toning and strengthening your abdominal muscles, and will also work your arms and your glutes and legs as well. However, it can be hard on your back, so you will need to have strong back muscles, or you can try starting with crunches without the medicine ball.
Using a stability ball for this kind of exercise is particularly effective, as it activates muscles that would ordinarily not be used, in order to maintain your balance on the ball. The slight give of the ball can make exercises more difficult, but they will be lower impact than traditional exercises on a hard surface. Holding the medicine ball adds extra weight to make your abdominals work that much harder.
How to Perform the Medicine Ball Crunch on a Stability Ball
First make sure you have the right size stability ball. Most shops will provide a height chart to help you pick, or you can sit on the ball and ensure your knees are at right angles when your feet are flat on the floor. You should also make sure you have the right size and weight medicine ball. Don't go for the heaviest ball you can pick up, as you may not be able to control it properly and could injure yourself. Preferably, start with the lightest ball and work your way up to heavier ones if you need to.
- Sit on the stability ball with the medicine ball in your hands. Walk your feet forward until your weight is balanced on the small of your back and your spine is curved over the stability ball. Keep your feet at around shoulder width and flat on the floor.
- Extend the medicine ball out over the top of your head. Keep your elbows slightly bent.
- Slowly draw your stomach muscles in, pulling your belly button towards your spine. Using this movement, raise the medicine ball in an arc. The movement doesn't need to be very far, and don't try to use the momentum of the ball to carry the movement forward. Try to keep your legs still and only use your abdominals. Hold for a couple of seconds.
- Slowly lower yourself back to your starting position and repeat for as many repetitions as you like.
How to Increase the Difficulty of Medicine Ball Crunches
The best way to increase the difficulty of the crunches is to do more of them by increasing the amount of reps or sets that you do. This results in leaner muscle and builds your endurance. However, if you need to increase the challenge of each repetition, you can also use a heavier medicine ball, although make sure you can control it without bouncing or jerking, which may cause injury.