Stability balls are excellent for increasing the intensity of abdominal workouts, and side crunches with a stability ball are no exception. Side crunches are particularly good at working the oblique muscles, which lie under your "love handles," but they also work the core muscles which help with posture and back pain. It can be very difficult to maintain your balance during this exercise and this helps to activate the muscles in your arms and legs as well.
How to Perform Stability Ball Side Crunches
You should find the right size stability ball for your height. When seated on the ball your legs should form a right angle. The ball should also be inflated correctly, so that when you put your full weight on it, it only lowers you 6 inches.
- Sit on the stability ball with your feet shoulder-width apart and firmly placed. You must wear shoes that will grip the floor.
- Slide yourself off a seated position so that your weight is resting on your hip and waist, positioned squarely on the ball. Keep your feet flat on the ground and use them to help balance yourself. You may need to spread them wider than shoulder width, place one in front of the other, or place one or both of them against a wall to make it easier to keep your balance.
- Ideally, place your hands behind your head. If you find it too difficult to balance yourself like this, you can place the arm closest to the ball on the ball and grip it with that hand, keeping your elbow bent. Then, slowly try to touch your other elbow to your hip on that side, crunching the muscles of your side and lifting your upper body from the ball. Do not use the hand on the stability ball for leverage. The stability ball shouldn't move.
- Lower yourself back down to your starting position.
- This exercise doesn't have a wide range of motion, and you might not move very far, but it is very effective for your side abdominal muscles. Once you have completed the desired number of repetitions for one side, remember to switch and complete the same number for the other side.
How to Increase the Difficulty of Side Crunches
It is difficult to increase the range of motion you can make with these crunches. If you are placing a hand on the ball instead of behind your head, work your way up to the more effective posture. You can also hold for several seconds at the height of the crunch, while you have your upper torso raised off the ball. If you are really advanced, you can try holding a medicine ball behind your head while performing this exercise. However, it can be hard on your back, so only do this if you have already achieved good balance and technique.