A stability ball can be used in many ways to add variety, fun and intensity to your workout regimen. You can use it as a platform to intensify your workout, by requiring you to maintain your balance. You can use it during leg lift or crunch type exercises to increase the intensity, by making your muscles work harder gripping the ball. One of these exercises is called the point up abdominal crunch with a stability ball. You may have heard of this exercise as something like a double crunch.
Muscle Groups Worked
This is mainly a core group exercise. This means that you will mostly work your upper and lower abdominals and your lower back muscles. By adding the stability ball, you will also be working your glutes, hamstrings and quads.
Before Beginning this Workout
Every athlete knows that one of the best ways to prevent injury during strenuous exercise is to properly warm up and stretch the muscles that will be worked. For this workout, use a set of jumping jacks and windmills (twisting toe touches). These will get your muscles warmed up. Stretching exercises for the legs include seated toe touches, hurdler stretches (one leg extended, one bent back and lean back) and the butterfly (seated, legs bent, toes touching, push down on the knees).
Step 1: Setup and Lie Down
Lay out your exercise mat. Lie on your back and place the exercise ball between your legs. The ball should go between your knees. Push your back into the mat and extend your hands over your head.
Step 2: Lift Head and Legs
Here is where the work begins. Lift your legs and your head as much as possible. Try and get both as close to vertical as you can.
Step 3: Lower Legs and Head
Slowly lower your head and legs. You should keep your legs off the floor just enough to keep the ball suspended in the air. Your head, hands and back should now be flat against your exercise mat again. This is one rep. Some personal trainers will tell you that you should perform as many reps as you can until you can do no more. However, if you’re just beginning an exercise regimen, you should limit yourself to between 10 and 15 reps to begin with. 10 or 15 reps will constitute one set. A full workout should consist of 10 sets. You should take a one-minute break between sets.
After the Workout
After you finish your workout, you should cool down and stretch again to prevent muscle tightness and injury.
Adding Intensity to Your Workout
There are a few ways to intensify this workout. Since your legs and hips are acting like a lever, pushing the ball farther away from the fulcrum, your hips, will make you work harder to raise that weight. Adding ankle or wrist weights will also increase the intensity of this workout by making you have to lift more weight. Additionally, more reps and sets will add to your workout.
If you’re just embarking on a fitness and exercise regimen, you should consult your physician before beginning a strenuous workout plan.