Effective Stability Ball Exercises

Photo Credit: LocalFitness.com


An exercise ball is a great way to develop your core strength, back and spine strength and improve your balance. Exercise balls can make exercise fun while you get in shape. Just sitting on an exercise ball will help develop your core strength and balance. Because the ball rolls around you are forced to engage your abdominal muscles and sit up straight to keep the ball stable. As the ball tries to roll underneath your body, you respond by moving your core and tightening your leg muscles, first the left then the right, to keep the ball stable. Try some more difficult exercise ball exercises to get a really good workout for your core, back and shoulder muscles.
Crunches on an exercise ball are moderately easy to perform but will fully engage all of your core and back muscles. Lie back on the ball with the ball under the middle of your back. Keep your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart and your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Cross your arms over your chest to prevent you from pulling yourself up using your hands behind your head. When you feel stable on the ball, lift your upper body up using your abdominal muscles. Avoid the urge to pull yourself up using your neck.
The bridge is an effective exercise to strengthen your back, chest, core and leg muscles. Begin by sitting on the exercise ball with your arms crossed over your chest. Slowly walk outward one step at a time while rolling the ball under your body. Roll the ball back toward your upper back until the top of your body forms a flat line from your hips to your chest. Make sure to keep your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. The upper leg, back and chest should form a straight line that is parallel to the floor. Hold this position for about 10 seconds and then roll back to the sitting position.
Push-ups are more effective with an exercise ball. Lie across the ball on your abdomen. Place your palms on the floor about shoulder width apart. Walk forward until the ball is resting underneath your thighs. Keep your feet together and your spine straight. Lower your upper body toward the floor by bending your elbows and then push back up.  Do 10 push-ups and increase the number of push-ups as your body grows stronger.

Core-Building Medicine Ball Workout


A medicine ball is a heavy, weighted ball that is used to strengthen the arms, legs and core muscles. Medicine balls vary in weight from a couple of pounds to as much as 25 pounds. Medicine balls differ from hand weights that are raised and lowered. Incorporating a medicine ball into your workout routine will involve twisting, bending, turning and tossing the ball. Exercises using a medicine ball can involve the full body and a wide range of muscles. As your core strength, arms and leg strength increases, move up to a heavier ball. 
An easy medicine ball exercise is the figure eight. Stand up straight with your legs slightly apart no wider than your shoulder width. Keep your feet flat on the floor and point your toes forward. Hold a medicine ball with both hands and extend the ball out in front of your abdomen. Move the ball in a figure eight, down, up and around to the right 5 times. Repeat the figure eight motion 5 times toward the left. Increase the number of repetitions or move up to a heavier ball when you can complete 10 repetitions without your arms feeling tired. 
Twists will strengthen your entire upper body, including your back and core muscles. Stand up straight with your feet apart. Hold a medicine ball with both hands with your elbows slightly bent toward your body. Swing the ball up to the right and twist your torso to the right with the momentum of the ball. Swing the ball back to the left turning your torso with the ball. Keep your feet planted on the floor and try to keep your heels from lifting up. Keep your abs tight during this exercise. Repeat this exercise 5 times in each direction. 

You can work your oblique muscles using a medicine ball. Lie down on your back and raise your knees toward your chest. Place a medicine ball between your knees and squeeze your knees to hold the ball. Place your hands palms down on each side of your body for stability. Keep your upper back on the floor during this exercise. Rotate your knees to the left as far as you can and then return to the center position. Rotate your knees to the right and return to center. Do 5 repetitions on each side. 

Strengthen Your Core For Better Posture

Photo Credit: Skoivuma CC-BY-3.0 2009

Poor posture can lead to tight muscles and a stiff, aching back. Maintaining good posture, especially when working at a desk 8 or more hours each day, can help prevent back aches. Strengthening your abdominal muscles and the muscles in your lower back can help you maintain good posture. A stronger core will also improve your balance and stamina. Add some core strengthening exercises to your regular routine to improve your posture. 
Leg extensions coordinate your core muscles to work together. Lie on your back and bend your knees. Keep your feet flat on the floor and place your hands behind your head. Roll your back until your lower back is on the floor. Tighten up  your abdominal muscles, breathe out and lift your head a few inches off the floor. Pull your left knee toward your chest and simultaneously extend your right leg straight out at a 45 degree angle from the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds and then lift your leg toward the ceiling. Return to the start position and inhale. Repeat starting with the other leg. Do 10 repetitions if you can.
Roll-up exercises will strengthen all of your abdominal muscles and your obliques. Begin with your back on the floor and your legs stretched out straight. Stretch your arms toward the ceiling and press your lower back to the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles, exhale and roll your body off the floor to a sitting position. Begin by rolling your head upward, then your shoulders, upper back and finally lower back. Try to roll up in a smooth, continuous motion. Inhale when you reach a sitting position. Exhale, tighten your abdominal muscles and reverse the roll until you return to the starting position. 

The crossover exercise also works all the core muscles. Again, begin on your back with your hands behind your head. Pull your knees to your chest and press your lower back to the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles, breathe out. Pull one knee as close to your chest as possible and extend the other leg out straight. Roll your body toward the knee that is bent to your chest. Inhale and switch legs extending the bent knee, pulling your other knee toward your chest and rotating your torso in the opposite direction. Do 10 repetitions of this exercise.