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ABsolutely Core Crazed- Part IV

Stability balls and stand up abs challenge the entire body.

View previous posts in this series, ABsolutely Core Crazed.

There is no end to the usefulness of a stability ball.  This is one fitness device that has stood the test of time and for good reason.  My favorite uses are for stretching and core work.  So let’s get rolling!

  • Reach Highs and Side Twists with Weighted Ball
    • Lay on your back balanced on the ball with feet firmly planted on the ground.
    • Hold ball with both hands and reach up and just slightly forward as if you are trying to offer the ball to someone on the roof.  The key is to control the positioning of your core from your lower abdomen to the top of your head because as you lift upward there is no support from the ball.  Resist the urge to reach way forward with the ball so that your rear can re-balance itself.  Let your core do the work.
    • Same position and holding the ball with both hands and totally straight arms, twist from side to side allowing the ball beneath you to shift as you twist.  The more twist the better so don’t worry if your back does not remain totally flat on the ball as long as you are creating some tension in that movement.
  • Side Leanovers on Bench
    • Set bench to correct height for you.  If you set it too high you won’t get the full benefit of the exercise.
    • Inside arm is relaxed (or you can hold a weight) and outside arm is behind your head with elbow pointed out.
    • Lean as far over the bench as you can and keep your body in perfect alignment if someone were looking at you from the side.
    • Keep both legs straight.  A bent leg is cheating.
  • Using Stability Ball Stands
    • This is not one of my favorite tools to use because they are built to fit an average guy.  So if you have a smaller frame or shorter arms and wingspan, this can be a bit uncomfortable to use.
    • Lift knees straight up to your chest and back down or do one leg at a time if both is too difficult.
    • My favorite exercise is to lift knees in a circular motion which is really difficult after you do a few.
  • Roll In Planks
    • Beginner/Intermediate:  Facing forward roll forward with stomach on the ball and hands on ground in front until only your ankles are on the ball.  Keeping your back flat, use your feet and core to roll the ball in and back out underneath your body.  If too difficult, allow your shins to rest on the ball before pulling in.
    • Advanced (very!):  Leave only one ankle on the ball with the other leg extended over the ball and pull in with only the one leg.  This requires tremendous core and arm/shoulder strength. Switch legs.
    • Maintaining a straight body line is critical with this exercise.  Reduce the number of reps to only what you can do with perfect form.
  • Standing Ab Work
    • Standing crunches:  hands behind your head and one leg slightly in front of the other.  Contract your entire core as you “crunch” while standing.  Breathing is very important as you must breathe out as you contract your abs in and breathe in as you release.  Switch legs in front for each set.  (You might want to do these in private as you will look like you didn’t eat enough fiber yesterday-ha!)
    • Standing side crunches:  I love these!  Stand with left arm straight out to the side.  Bring right arm up and bend at elbow.  Bring right bent knee up to meet elbow and create tension between the right arm coming down and the right knee coming up–really contract your core while you balance on left leg.  These can be easy as pie or hard as hell depending on how hard you contract in the movement.  Keep your upper body steady and maintain perfect form.
    • For more advanced standing side crunches, reduce the amount of motion and don’t let the right leg ever touch the ground.  Switch legs after each set.

Stay tuned for Part V of ABsolutely Core Crazed, Let's Walk the Plank.

"It’s not out conditions that determine our choices. It’s our choices that determine our conditions."

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