One of the most common pieces of fitness equipment to find at someone’s house is the Swiss ball. For me it works great as an impromptu chair for company. It is also one of the most underutilized. Much more than an office chair the Swiss ball is great to target the core, and is versatile enough for beginners and advanced trainees. Stop letting that ball collect dust and no need to wait till Jan. 1, you can get started now in your own home. The following are three core exercises using the Swiss ball ranging from beginner to advanced.
SwISS BALL ROLLOUT
A study in 2010 found out that, “The roll-out and pike were the most effective exercises in activating upper and lower rectus abdominis, external and internal obliques.” The rollout is a great exercise to teach beginners core stability and it also really targets the abs so you can feel the burn.
How to do it: Sit on your knees in front of a Swiss ball and place your forearms and fists on the ball. Your back should be naturally arched. Brace your core and squeeze your glutes to protect your low back. Focus on keeping both areas tight for the exercise. Slowly roll the ball forward, straightening your arms and extending your body as far as you can without allowing your lower back to “collapse.” If you start to feel it in your low back you have rolled out too far. Use your ab muscles to pull the ball back to your knees.
STIR THE POT
Planks are a great exercise to develop core endurance; problem is that they can be boring once you get good at them. Like staring at the ground for five minutes? No thank you. By adding the Swiss ball the instability of it has your core working overtime which helps burn more calories.
How to do it: Get into a plank position on a stability ball — braced abs, glutes tight like the rollout exercise. Once in plank position, move your forearms in a circular fashion maintaining a solid position the entire time. There should be as little movement in the back and hips as possible. If you want to make it more challenging, narrow your stance or elevate your feet.
SWISS BALL PIKE
The Swiss ball pike is an advanced exercise as it requires upper body strength, core endurance, abdominal strength and a bit of coordination as well. This exercise is one of the challenging out there and is suited for intermediate to advanced lifters.
How to do it: Get in pushup position, with the laces of your feet on a Swiss ball. Keeping your legs as straight as possible, core braced and head looking down. Bend your hips and push them in the air and try to pull your feet toward your chest so that the ball rolls forward and hold for a count of two, then slowly roll back to the starting position.
Consult your doctor prior to starting any exercise program and if you are unsure how to properly perform any exercise, seek the advice of a trained fitness professional.
Kyler Crouse, BS, CSCS, FMS is a personal trainer and strength coach that trains at Sierra Athletic Club and a training center instructor at Barton Memorial Hospital. Kyler specializes in performance enhancement and rehabilitation after injury. Visit www.KCstrength.com for more information.