Your abs will love you for doing crunches on the exercise ball. Not only are you working your abs like you do with a regular crunch, but you are working them about 30% more than you would on the floor. You’re engaging your hamstrings and working the rest of your core as well. Getting it right is the only challenge.
1. Choose the Right Size
Take a seat on a ball that is the optimum size for you. The right size ball will put the exact focus on your abs, without calling too much on your other muscles to help you lift. If you are 5’3″ or under you should choose a 55cm ball. Women 5’4″ to 5’10” will benefit most from a 65 cm ball. The largest size is best for women who are 5’11” and taller.
2. Crunch Up
Sit down on the center of the ball slowly, with feet firmly planted on the floor. Slowly walk feet out in front of you until the ball rests on the small of your back, face-up on the ball. Stay centered on the ball, controlling the ball (try not to let it roll) and lean further until your back is flat, careful not to over extend. Concentrate on lowering each vertebra at a time. Then, slowly rise up, curling each vertebra toward the ceiling as you go. Place fingertips behind your ears or at your temples. Avoid placing hands behind your head–as you get tired, you may be tempted to tug on your neck as you rise.
3. Sit Straight
Keep your head, neck and back in line as you crunch. This will help maintain focus on the abs and reduce neck pain when you are done. When you reach the top of the crunch, sit straight up before you curl back down out of the crunch
4. Work Slow
As you continue your crunches, working to complete 15-20 reps, be careful to work slowly. Raise and lower for 3 counts up and 3 counts back. Focus on engaging your abs as you raise and lower, and resist the temptation to use momentum to swing you up. Do them right and you can do fewer reps with more results.
5. Touch Training is Tough Training
While you are crunching, place one hand on your abs so you can feel the contraction. Open your hand to notice your upper and lower abs contracting. This technique works great for training all muscle groups to help you focus on the particular area as you work it.
With just a few workouts on the ball, you’ll get stronger quickly. When you are ready in a few weeks, add a twist at the top of the crunch to get your obliques in on the action. To work your lower abs even more, try holding on to a stable object and raising your legs. Begin by holding a bench press bar on the opposite side from the bench or the wall or couch in your home. With your feet on the floor in front of you, raise and lower one knee, then alternate legs. As you advance even further, raise and lower your straight legs as you hold the bar behind you.