We’ve got a secret ingredient for getting more from each and every ab exercise: a stability ball. “By doing exercises on the ball, you create an unstable foundation,” says Crunch/New York City personal trainer Franklyn Mella, who created this tummy-toning workout. “That requires you to engage your ab muscles to stabilize your entire body, an effect you won’t get from doing ab exercises on the floor.” All that extra hard work for your muscles pays off big-time, giving you faster, better results. Ready to have a ball? Let’s go!
Ball Push-Ups: Get into the “up” part of push-up position with hands on the floor directly under your shoulders and the balls of your feet on a stability ball; your body should form a straight line from head to heels (A). Keeping your back straight, bend your elbows to bring your upper body toward the floor (B), then straighten them to return to the previous position. (Too challenging? Place your shins on the ball instead of your feet.) Do 2 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
Ball Plank to Reverse Crunch: Get into plank position with elbows below your shoulders, forearms on the floor, and the balls of your feet on the ball; your body should form a straight, diagonal line from head to heels (A). Bend your knees and, using your lower ab muscles, bring your knees (and the ball) toward your chest (B), then return to the previous position. (Too challenging? Place the tops of your feet or your shins on the ball.) Do 2 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
Jackknifes with a Ball: Lie on your back with arms on the floor above your head and the ball between your legs (A). Using your ab muscles, lift your legs and upper body and grab the ball with your hands (B). Slowly lower back down to the ground, reaching the ball overhead; if possible, don’t let your feet touch the ground (C). Repeat the movement, returning the ball back between your legs. That’s one rep; do 2 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
Ball Mountain Climbers: Kneel on the floor in front of the ball with elbows bent and forearms on the ball. Roll the ball forward to come onto the balls of your feet, so your body forms a straight, diagonal line from head to heels (A); tighten your ab muscles. In a quick motion, bring your left foot forward so your knee nears your chest and the ball (B), then switch feet. That’s one rep; continue to alternate for 8 to 12 reps. Do 2 sets.
Ball Ax Chop: Sit on the ball with knees bent and feet on the floor; hold a medicine ball or dumbbell between both hands. Roll your body forward so your back and shoulders are on the ball, then bring the medicine ball overhead and to the right (A). Using a controlled motion, chop the ball over and across your body toward the left as you crunch up, lifting your upper body (B). Slowly return to the previous position. Do 8 to 12 reps, then switch sides and repeat; that’s one set. Do 2 sets.
Learn more about Crunch’s classes at Crunch.com.