A stability ball will make your abdominal crunch-ups more effective at building strength and tone in your abdominal region. Because the ball requires the additional feat of retaining balance, you should first be able to perform an abdominal crunch-up correctly while on the ground before you begin using the ball. Maintaining balance on the ball will offer you additional resistance, which can prove to be an effective tool in building and toning muscle mass.
The Targeted Muscles
The abdominal crunch primarily targets the abdominal muscles, which are called the rectus abdominis and can be build to give off that “six pack” look. The exercise can also target the muscles in the neck.
The Exercise Basics
Place the stability ball on a stable surface. You will be keeping more of your body on the ball during abdominal crunch-ups than you would with a basic crunch.
- Sit on the ball and have your feet placed firmly on the ground in front of you. Your legs should be about shoulder-length apart.
- Roll forward on the ball until your upper back and shoulders are firmly supported by the ball. Your legs should be positioned several feet from the the ball, under the knees in that same shoulder-length-apart position. Your buttocks should be held aloft, not supported by the stability ball.
- Roll your head back slightly so that your neck is on the ball. Place your palms on the front of your pelvis. Inhale.
- Exhale as you roll your neck and shoulders forward. Your chin should tuck in as closely as it can to your chest and your eyes should focus on your abdominal region. Your shoulders should lift slightly off of the ball. You should feel a tightening in your abdominal region.
- Inhale as you slowly roll backward. You should first loosen some of that tightness you feel in your abdomen and then slowly lower your shoulders. After you begin lowering the shoulders, you can then begin to slowly lower your neck backward until you reach the starting position.
- Perform the abdominal crunch-up a minimum of five to ten times. As you get more used to the exercise, you can add additional crunch-ups to your routine, but don’t move too quickly.
Make sure the stability ball is on a stable surface that’s not slippery. Do not place the ball on a rug or on the carpet. Because the exercise involves the movement of the neck, you must be especially gentle and careful not to move too quickly. Stop the exercise once you feel your neck fatiguing, even if you haven’t met your goal.
Adding More Challenge
The easiest way to increase the challenge of this exercise is to do more crunch-ups in a set. However, you can also add a challenge by working out your arm muscles at the same time. An effective way to do so it to place your index and middle fingers gently against your outer ears. Stick your elbows far out to either side of your head and hold your arms in that position as you exercise.