Core Body Strength Exercises

Core Body Strength Exercises

exercise ball
Figure 5: Use abs to sit up...
(larger view)

These back exercises using exercise balls are designed to strengthen the muscles that support the spine from the low back to the upper back, in front and in back. Specific muscles targeted by these exercises include the abdominal, chest and back muscles.

These core body strength exercises with the ball can be very difficult to perform and should be learned with the help of an appropriately trained physical therapist, chiropractor, certified athletic trainer, exercise physiologist, physiatrist, or another type of spine specialist or exercise instructor. They are not advised for people with certain spine conditions (see Exercise Ball Precautions). Always consult with a physician before attempting these exercises or any other exercises.

Building Core Body Strength with the Exercise Ball

  • Front walkout - Place chest on exercise ball and walk forward on hands as far as possible, rolling exercise ball from chest toward feet, keeping stomach muscles tight to keep lower back flat. Start by moving exercise ball to thighs; to increase difficulty move exercise ball to knees then feet. Walk hands back to starting position. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
  • Back walk-out - Sit on exercise ball with arms to sides; walk feet forward as far as possible, rolling exercise ball from buttocks toward neck, keeping stomach muscles tight to keep lower back flat and do not raise head. Start by moving exercise ball to upper back; to increase difficulty move exercise ball to neck. Walk feet back and return to sitting position. Repeat 3 to 5 times. For more difficulty, complete exercise with arms straight overhead; with exercise ball at neck, lift and straighten one leg at a time, 5 times each leg.
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  • Reverse crunch - Place chest on exercise ball and walk forward on hands until ball is at kneecaps, keeping stomach muscles tight to keep lower back flat. Pull the ball up towards arms by bending at hips and knees, then straighten and push the ball back. Repeat 5 times. Walk hands back to starting position.
  • Reverse extension - Place chest on exercise ball and walk forward on hands until exercise ball is at kneecaps, keeping stomach muscles tight to keep lower back flat. Roll the ball to thighs by keeping hands in place, moving arms to an overhead position, bringing head and chest down near floor; return arms to perpendicular to body with exercise ball back at knee caps. Repeat 5 times. Walk hands back to starting position.
  • Combination - Complete the reverse crunch and reverse extension in one continuous, controlled movement, pulling exercise ball up to chest and extending back 5 times.

Abdominal Exercises with the Exercise Ball

  • Half crunch - Sit on exercise ball with arms raised across chest or on hips; lean back half way, flexing at hips without moving feet, but raising up on toes; use abdominal muscles to sit up without moving feet, but rocking back on heels (see Fig. 5) Rock back and forth on the ball smoothly 5 times. Increase difficulty with arms straight overhead.
  • Obliques - Sit on exercise ball with arms raised straight overhead; lean back half way, flexing at hips without moving feet, but raising up on toes; lower one arm at a time slowly towards the opposite knee. Alternate arms 10 times each side.
  • Full crunch - Sit on exercise ball with arms at sides and feet flat on floor and out in front, sitting slightly forward on ball; lean back all the way, rolling ball to the low back then mid-back; keeping feet flat on the floor, use abdominal muscles to sit up. Repeat 5 times.
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