Muscles Targeted: Abdominal crunches with your legs on an exercise ball is an exercise that targets the entire rectus abdominis which is located in the front of the body, beginning at the pubic bone and ending at the sternum. It’s a long, flat muscle that extends vertically the entire length of the abdomen.
Exercise Instructions: Lie flat on your back with your legs resting on an exercise ball and have your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Cross your arms across your chest. Begin by pushing the small of your back down to the floor to isolate your abdominal muscles. Begin to roll your shoulders off the floor and raise them about 3-4 inches off the floor. Continue to push down with your lower back and crunch your abs tightly as you reach the top position. Your lower back should always remain on the floor. Pause at the top and then slowly lower your shoulders back down to the floor.
Why This Exercise is Important: When people go to the gym, one of the most common goals they have is to attain well-toned abdominals, also known as a “six pack abs”. The best way to achieve this is by following a nutrient dense diet along with cardio workouts to burn calories and specific exercises like crunches that target the abs. Abdominal crunches using an exercise ball is just a variation of the regular crunch. While this exercise targets the same muscles as the regular version, the use of the exercise ball adds some additional resistance due to the positioning of your legs on the ball. This style of abdominal crunch not only adds variation to a routine, it amps up the burn due to the extra resistance provided by the exercise ball. It also develops your balance since you need to control the ball as you complete each repetition. At the same time, you strengthen your lower back during the movement.
Things To Avoid: Just like the regular crunch, you need to observe proper technique and form when performing this exercise. Read the exercise instructions carefully as it details the proper way to execute this particular crunch movement. An injury to the back or neck is possible if you use improper form, so make sure that you are not putting pressure on these areas as you raise up. This means that you should not use your back or neck when raising up. Draw power from your core instead. Do not use momentum when raising up by whipping your neck forward. If you are a beginner, use the wall as an opposite force so that the ball does not roll from under you. As you progress, move far back from the wall and towards the center of the room. This way, you will need to control your movement as well as the ball. Do not move too fast with jerky movements. Contract your abs at the top position and pause for one second. Slowly lower your shoulders down to the starting position to complete a full repetition. Avoid half reps, and make sure to do the full range of movement for every repetition.
Reps and Sets: This exercise can be performed by a novice. If you are a beginner, do 2 sets of 10-12 reps. Slowly increase your reps and once you master the movement, you can perform 3-4 sets of 25-30 reps. Train your abs 2-3 times per week with at least 24 hours of rest between workouts.
Other Exercises To Use: Although this exercise targets the entire rectus abdominis, it is a good idea to spend some time targeting the muscle group with different exercises. For efficiency, you can choose exercises that make use of the exercise ball and the floor so that you don’t need to move between pieces of equipment. For lower abdominal exercises, perform lying reverse crunches or medicine ball leg raises. For the middle and upper abdominals, try medicine ball crunches on an exercise ball and abdominal butt raises. For the love handles, try using oblique twists and oblique crunches. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of all the exercises that target the abs.