With everything that you’ve got going on in your life, taking time to tighten your core is probably not a high priority. Sure, you’d love to have tight abs, and you exercise when you can, but your core could definitely use some more attention.
An easy way to incorporate core strengthening into your exercise routine is to work the following 10 exercise ball moves into your routine.
As with other exercises, warm up before using an exercise ball. When performing specific exercises, keep your back straight, avoid locking your knees, and breathe properly. The size of ball you use should be based on your height and weight. When sitting on a ball, your thighs should be parallel to the ground. Choose dumbbell weights based on your fitness level.
#1: Ball Push-Up A great way to work your chest, triceps, upper pectoral, and core muscles is the ball push-up. Rest your upper thighs on the ball and place your hands on the floor shoulder width apart. Lower your upper body toward the ground until your arms are bent at 90 degrees, and then lift back up. This inclined position really targets your chest.
#2: Ball Sit-Up Using the ball for sit-ups works your abdominal, core, and hip muscles. Sit on the top front of the ball and place your hands behind your head. Lie back until your back is touching the ball, and then slowly sit back up straight, lifting with your abs and not your neck.
#3: Ball Arm-Leg Extension Alternating arm-leg extensions using the ball targets just about all major muscle groups—especially the buttocks, hamstrings, and upper and lower back muscles. Get on all fours with the exercise ball placed under your abdomen. Simultaneously lift and straighten your left leg and right arm. Extend them away from the body’s center while keeping your hips stable and balancing on the ball. Finally, bring your leg and arm back toward the ball. Perform eight extensions before switching sides.
#4: One-Legged Ball Squat To work your quadriceps and buttocks, ball squats are a great option. Stand up straight and place your right ankle on top of the ball behind you so your weight is on your left leg. Slowly lower your body until your left leg is bent at the knee at 90 degrees and your right leg extends behind you. Rise back up and lower again. Alternate sides after 10 squats.
#5: Ball Jackknife Here’s another exercise that targets your abdominal and hip muscles. Place your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart, arms extended, ankles on the ball, and legs extended. Put your weight on your arms and roll the ball in toward your arms by bending your knees and waist. Extend your legs back out straight. Repeat.
#6: Ball Table Top This exercise is quite simple to do, and it works many muscle groups, including your abdominals, shoulders, chest, and back. Sit on your knees and lean over onto the exercise ball, placing your forearms on the ball. Keep your back straight and bend your elbows at 90 degrees. Roll the ball forward and raise off your knees onto your toes. Extend your legs straight. Then return to your knees.
#7: Ball Triceps Extension Also called the triceps blaster, the triceps extension obviously works your triceps. Rest your forearms on the ball with your legs extended straight and toes on the floor. Keep your back straight and roll the ball toward your hands so you can lift yourself up and straighten your arms. Then slowly lower back down to your forearms.
#8: Lying Ball Squeeze Targeting your inner thighs, back, and buttocks, the ball squeeze is performed by lying on your back and holding the ball between your lower legs. Squeeze the ball while lifting your buttocks off the floor and squeezing your thighs together. Lower your back down to the floor and repeat.
#9: Ball Leg Curl To work your hamstring muscles, lie on your back and rest the back of your calves and thighs on the ball. Squeeze the ball by pushing your feet toward your buttocks. Release and repeat.
#10: Ball Shoulder Flies To work your shoulders, lay at an angle with your belly resting on the ball. Keep your back straight and your legs extended behind you. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and start with your arms at your sides. Raise your arms out to the sides until the dumbbells reach shoulder-level. Slowly release back to your sides and repeat.
Do these exercises when you are next in the gym. There’s still time to make 2012 the year that you get into amazing shape.
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