Stability ball exercises, such as pike ups, are an excellent way to strengthen your core and flatten your abs. This exercise also strengthens the shoulders, while stretching the hamstrings and lower back. This is an advanced exercise, so it requires that you have the ability to perform planks on the floor before attempting pike ups on the stability ball.
How to Perform Pike Ups
You are going to begin in a push-up position, with your feet on the stability ball, and your legs extended behind you. Your hands need to be at shoulder level and at shoulder width apart throughout the range of motion. It is important to keep your head aligned with your spine as you lift your hips into the air. Remember to keep the legs straight as you use them to roll the ball toward your chest. Arms should remain straight and tummy tight. Hold this position for a second, and then slowly return to your starting position. Repeat this for three to four repetitions, adding more as you get stronger. Work up to 10 to 15 repetitions.
Always keep your back straight and your stomach muscles engaged while raising your hips, to protect the lower back. Make sure you breathe out during exertion; do not hold your breath. You need to find your balance before attempting this exercise and make sure the tops of your feet are firmly on the ball to avoid sliding off and injury. It is important to have the correct size of ball—your body should be parallel to the floor. Do not inflate the ball until tight, because there needs to be some give on the ball’s surface. When the ball is overinflated, it’s more difficult to stabilize yourself and this leads to injuries.
If you can perform this exercise without difficulty and need to add some intensity to your workout, you can add alternative knee tucks. You perform the pike up as usual, but after returning to the starting position, you bring your knees toward your chest and then back to starting position. Make sure you are contracting your abs and keeping your chin down, because this protects your neck and lower back. Alternate the two exercises to work both the upper and lower abdominals.
Benefits of Stability Ball Pike Ups
Stability ball exercises, like the pike ups, strengthen the core. A strong core decreases the chances of getting injuries to your spine and lower back and improves your posture and coordination. You will gain all these benefits as well as lean stomach muscles and the flat stomach and small waist you desire. Pike ups also help strengthen your shoulders, biceps and triceps as you work to hold your body parallel to the floor. The exercise also stretches the hamstring and lower back muscles. Stretching the back muscles while strengthening the core is a wonderful way to help to alleviate any lower back pain that may be caused from weak abdominal muscles and poor core strength.