exercise ball ab crunch

Exercise of the Week: Exercise Ball Ab Crunch

Yesterday I tweeted to see what people thought was the most difficult exercise and the number one response was sit-ups/crunches. I see this a lot in the gym mostly because people are doing the exercise with a swinging motion, or they have their hands behind their heads and causing strain on their necks.

There are a lot of devices which have been invented to try and circumvent the lower back pain or neck pain caused from ab crunches but I believe the one that is most effective and can help even the most advanced are ab crunches on an exercise ball. The natural arch created by the ball keeps your back in place and allows you to focus on keeping your abs tight and really concentrating all your efforts on a smooth controlled motion.

Let’s take a 360 approach on ab crunches with a stability ball…

Muscles used in Exercise Ball Ab Crunch:

Primary – upper and lower abs (rectus abdominis)
Secondary – Obliques

Points to focus on:

  • Sit on ball and walk forward and lie back so ball fits curve in your back
  • Place hands on side of head or folded across chest
  • Crunch with a smooth range of motion, 2 seconds down and 2 seconds up
  • Keep neck fixed throughout (pretend you have a tennis ball between your chest and neck)
  • Concentrate on keeping abs tight and doing all the lifting of your upper body

Common Mistakes:

  • Hands behind head pushing your body up and straining neck
  • No concentration on abs and keeping core tight
  • Moving too quickly
  • Worrying too much about position on ball (you can position yourself in many angles for variation)

Recommended Exercise Routine:

1 warm-up set of 12 repetitions
3 sets of 12-14 repetitions or
3 sets of 15 repetitions with one foot raised holding medicine ball in front of chest (for advanced levels)

Conclusion – Exercise Ball Ab Crunch:

If you are experiencing any discomfort in your lower back area make sure to reposition ball to fit curve of your back and keep a neutral spine position. You may also want to try smaller or larger exercise balls to get better positioning. There are many variations you can do with this exercise including feet up against a wall, or doing a slight twist movement to one side as you raise.

Remember: Doing ab crunches endlessly isn’t going to give you six pack abs. You also need to be doing high intensity cardio 2-3 times a week to lower your overall body fat and focusing on a very healthy diet.

Have any questions or thoughts about this exercise? Please leave a comment below…