The Swiss ball, also known as a stability ball, is an inexpensive exercise tool used in sports performance, adult functional fitness, youth fitness and injury-rehabilitation programs. These balls can add a challenge to exercises due to the unstable and unpredictable environment they create. Performing exercises using a Swiss ball works the major muscles and requires the assistance of smaller stabilizer muscles to help maintain your balance and stability. Swiss balls are effective for developing core strength.
The jackknife is a challenging exercise that targets your entire abdominal region. Begin by standing behind the ball. Bend down and place your abdominals on the top of the ball and your hands on the floor. Walk your hands out until only your feet remain on the top of the ball. Your shoulders should be directly over your hands with your hands approximately shoulder-width apart. Keeping your legs straight, contract your abdominals and bend at the waist, lift your hips and bring your knees closer to your torso. Try to lift your hips as high as possible aiming to get your wrists, shoulders and hips in alignment. Hold the position and then extend your legs and return the ball to the starting position. Repeat this move for 20 repetitions.
Performing pushups on the Swiss ball engages the muscles in your core to help maintain balance. Stand behind the ball and bend down to place your abdominals on top of the ball. From here, roll forward until your hands are on the floor in front of the ball approximately shoulder-width apart. Walk your hands forward until only your feet remain on top of the ball. Your body should form a straight line from the head to your feet. Engage your core and bend your elbows slowly lowering your chest toward the floor. Pause for a moment at the bottom and then extend your arms to return to the starting plank position. Repeat this exercise for a total of 15 to 20 repetitions.
The pushup-to-knee tuck exercise will ultimately challenge your balance and work your chest, triceps and core. Stand behind the ball, bend down and place your abdominals on top of the ball and your hands on the floor. Walk your hands forward until only your feet remain on top of the ball. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet. Keep your core engaged and bend your elbows slowly lowering your chest toward the floor. Pause for a moment at the bottom and then extend your arms to return to the starting plank position. Keep your arms straight and pull your knees in toward your chest as you feel your abdominals contract. Extend your legs and return the ball to the starting position. Repeat the entire movement for 15 to 20 repetitions.
The prone twist will really help target your obliques and get rid of those dreaded love handles. Begin with the ball under your abs and your hands on the floor in a pushup position. Walk your hands forward so that the ball begins to roll toward your feet. Widen your feet over the ball and squeeze them on either side of it. From this plank position, keep your core engaged and slowly roll the ball to one side by rotating your hips and dropping one foot down toward the floor. Hold this position, return to the beginning plank position and rotate to the opposite side. This exercise is guaranteed set your core on fire. Perform a total of 20 to 30 repetitions.
Kristy Lee Wilson is a former Cirque du Soleil performer, Sharecare fitness expert, bestselling author, international speaker, certified personal trainer and youth fitness specialist. An elite athlete from a very young age, Wilson's ultimate mission is to motivate, inspire and educate as many people as possible to live life to their fullest potential.