1. Health

Core Exercises on the Ball

This core workout focuses on using an exercise ball to strengthen all of the muscles in the abs and back or, as we say in the biz, the 'core.' I love these moves because they not only strengthen the core, they target balance, stability and overall coordination, making this a multi-purpose workout. The moves progress in difficulty, so take your time and use a wall for balance if you feel wobbly.

Precautions
See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses or other conditions.

Equipment Needed
An exercise ball, a mat and a light-medium medicine ball (suggested weight:  4-8 lbs)

How To

  • Warm up with 5-10 minutes of cardio or do this workout after your regular cardio or strength routine
  • Perform 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps of each exercise, taking care to perfect your form before increasing sets or reps.
  • Avoid any moves that cause pain or or discomfort
  • When first trying these exercises, hold onto a wall or prop the ball against something sturdy for added stability.
Back Extension
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Position the ball under your hips and lower torso with the knees straight or bent.  With hands behind the head or back, slowly roll down the ball.  Lift your chest off the ball, bringing your shoulders up until your body is in a straight line.  Make sure your body is in alignment (i.e., head, neck, shoulders and back are in a straight line), your abs are pulled in and that don't hyperextend the back. Repeat for 12-16 reps.
Ball Balance
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Position the ball under your abs and hips, hands on the floor and legs straight and off the floor.  Hold that position, keeping your body in a straight line, abs pulled in.  Working to stay balanced, slowly raise your right arm out to the side, taking care not to roll or allow any part of your body to collapse. Hold briefly, lower the arm and repeat on the other side.  Repeat for 12-16 reps, alternating arms.  
Butt Lift
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Lie on the ball with the head, neck and shoulders supported, knees bent and body in a table-top position.  Lower the hips towards the floor without rolling on the ball.  Squeeze the glutes to raise hips until body is in a straight line like a bridge.  Hold weights on the hips for added intensity and make sure you press through the heels and not the toes.  Repeat for 12-16 reps
Hip Extension
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Lie down with feet heels propped on ball.  Keeping abs tight, lift your hips off the floor (squeezing the glutes) until body is in a straight line.  Hold for a few seconds and lower.  For added intensity, lift the hips and then take one leg off the ball, hold for a moment and lower.  Repeat for 12-16 reps.
Ab Roll
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Place your hands on the ball in front of you, arms parallel.  Pulling your belly button towards your spine and tightening your torso, slowly roll forward, rolling the ball out as far as you can without arching or straining the back.  Push the elbows into the ball and squeeze the abs to pull the body back to start.  Avoid this move if you have back problems.  Repeat for 12-16 reps.
Ball Rotation
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Lie with ball under shoulders and lower back and hold a light-medium medicine ball over the chest.  Hold your body in a straight line from hips to knees.  Tightening your glutes and abs, slowly twist your body to the left, sweeping med ball parallel to the floor, then back up, repeating on the other side.  Watch your knees on this move and allow them to turn naturally with the body so you don't injure them.  Repeat for 12-16 reps, alternating sides.
Ball Twist
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Get into a pushup position with the feet on either side of the ball (turning your ankles so that you are hugging the ball).  Hold body in a straight line with abs pulled in, hips straight and hands directly under shoulders.  Slowly rotate the ball to the right while trying to keep your shoulders level, then to the left.  Repeat for 12-16 reps, alternating sides. 
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Related Video
How to Do a Pilates Ball Extension Exercise

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