Exercise Ball Abdominal Crunches - Abs Exercise Guide with Photos
Muscles Targeted: Exercise ball abdominal crunches primarily
target the rectus abdominis. This muscle group is responsible for
flexing the lumbar spine. Also targeted are the transverse abdominis,
which are used to compress the rib cage and are important for stabilization
of your core. If you twist when performing the crunch then you are
also engaging the oblique muscles. These muscles are located on
the side of your core.
Exercise Instructions: Using a large
exercise ball, lay your back on the ball with your feet placed
firmly on the floor. Your lower back should be centered on
top of the ball. Place your hands on either side of your head.
Crunch your upper body forward and roll your shoulders towards
your hips. Be sure to contract your abs at the top of the
movement for a one-count. Slowly return to the starting position
and repeat. For added muscle building resistance, hold a medicine
ball or weight plate in your hands as you perform the exercise.
Why This Exercise is Important: Doing your crunches on an
abdominal ball is important for three reasons. First off, it is
easy to perform these crunches for people who are out of shape and
have a hard time doing a crunch on the ground. Secondly, strengthening
your abdominal muscles is critical for balance and posture. Lastly,
the ball puts your body in an unstable environment which leads to
the strengthening of your stabilizer muscles, which over time improve
the coordination of your muscle groups.
Things To Avoid: There are some things that you need to
watch out for when you are performing this exercise. Some of these
lead to poor performance and results, others put you at risk for
injury. Make sure that the ball stays still while you are crunching.
You want to put all the emphasis on your muscles contracting. Don't
come all the way up, as this takes off emphasis from the abdominal
muscles. Make sure that your legs don't move either, as this can
be a form of cheating just like moving the ball. Don't put your
hands behind your neck as this can lead to neck strain. As always
make sure you use proper form in everything you do and if something
feels uncomfortable then switch it up and try to find a way to make
it work for you.
Reps and Sets: Most fitness experts agree that the abdominals
benefit most from higher repetition sets mixed with some lower repetition
sets every now and then. Most of the time you will want to stay
in the 3-5 set range and the 15-25 rep range for the abdominals.
The abs are a muscle used for stability instead of growth and they
are constantly contracting which is why they respond best to a higher
rep range. Every now and then add in some lower rep work in the
10-15 range to mix things up and keep your muscles confused. Your
abs can be trained every other day or you can do them 2-3 times
a week to achieve good results. Use this exercise in conjunction
with a strength training routine that covers the rest of your body
to reap the maximum benefits.
Other Exercises To Use: There are other exercises that can
serve as a substitute for exercise ball abdominal crunches. Some
of these are a direct substitute and some are a little bit harder.
Try them and see how they work for you. You can put your legs on
the ball and pull the ball towards you. You can perform the crunches
without the ball on the floor. You can raise your legs, either on
the floor or suspended from a bar. You can also use a machine with
resistance to perform your crunches. View our extensive database
of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of all the exercises
that target the abs.