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Easy Ab Workout With an Exercise Ball

by Sárka-Jonae Miller
See more articles by Sárka-Jonae Miller

(The Best Years in Life) Ab workouts can get stale quickly as muscles strengthen ad adapt. To counter this eventuality, try adding an exercise ball to the mix. These inflatable balls are inexpensive and come in medium to extra large sizes to match people's heights. Be sure you read the box and buy the right size. Also, use a measuring tape to ensure you inflate the ball to the exact size it is meant to be for safety purposes.

Alternating Leg Lifts

The alternating leg lifts is an excellent exercise for people who have never used an exercise ball. Balancing on the ball can take some practice, which is why starting with a simple exercise like alternating leg lifts is a good idea.

This exercise challenges the abdominal muscles' ability to support the spine and keep the torso upright, something the muscles need to do whenever you are not in a supported position, which is almost any time you're not reclining in a chair or lying down.

Begin by sitting on the ball. Put your hands on your hips unless you feel like you're going to fall off. You may extend your arms out to the sides if you have to while first learning the exercise. Check that your toes point straight ahead. Do not let them point outward.

Lift your right off of the floor but only to a height that doesn't throw you off balance while sitting up straight. Hold for one second and then lower your leg. Repeat with your left leg. Continue alternating until you have done 12 to 20 leg lifts.


Reverse Ball Crunches

Reverse ball crunches are not the same as reverse crunches performed on the floor. The great thing about this exercise is it challenges your abs in a different range of motion than regular crunches. Muscles only build strength in the range of motion that they are worked during exercise.

Begin seated on the ball with your feet flat on the floor and arms crossed on your chest. Walk your feet forward and position the ball so it is touching your tailbone. Do not move so far forward that the ball is against your lower back and you are in a reclined position.

Slowly lean backwards as far as you can while maintaining balance. If you feel unsteady, have someone assist you by holding the ball. This will make the exercise significantly easier. Sit back up to complete one repetition. Work up to 10. Try leaning farther back overtime as you get better at the exercise.

Crunches on a Ball

Performing crunches on the floor is an effective way to strengthen your abs but at some point you'll have to do dozens to continue progressing. Putting yourself on an exercise ball increases the difficultly of the exercise because the ball will try to move, something a floor probably isn't going to do unless you work out on a fault line.

To start with the easiest variation of the exercise, lie with the middle part of your back on the ball and your feet on the floor. With your hands behind your head, curl up as you would doing a crunch on the floor. Work up to 15 crunches. You can make the exercise more challenging by rolling the ball underneath your lower back.

These three exercises make a complete ab workout and offer an introduction to using an exercise ball. Try doing two ab workouts per week on the ball, leaving a couple of days in between to let your abs recover. Eventually, you should be able to do three to four ab workouts but try different routines so that your body doesn't adapt.

See also:

Travel-inspired Core Workout for the Abs and Back

Simple Exercises to Strengthen and Shape Your Derrière

Exercises for Sexy, Sculpted Calves



About the Author

Sárka-Jonae Miller is a health and fitness expert. She began working in the fitness industry in 2000 while pursuing a BS in journalism at Syracuse University. She became certified as a personal fitness trainer and group exercise instructor in 2003. She has also received training in massage therapy. Sárka also writes fiction. She is the author of the chick lit novel, Between Boyfriends. Get more health and wellness tips on Sárka's Natural Healing Tips blog or join her on Facebook and Twitter.

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