The Swiss ball, or exercise ball, is a great tool for abdominal conditioning. The instability of the ball means you have to engage your entire core to balance yourself on top of it. Adding a torso rotation as you crunch calls even more muscles into use. Your obliques, along the sides of your abdomen, will thank you for their new curves and strength.
Choose a Swiss ball that fits your body. Sit on top of the ball with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Check the angle of your knees and hips. You have the right size ball if the angle is at 90 degrees. Increase the size of the ball if your knees and hips are beyond a 90-degree angle. Decrease the size of the ball if your knee and hip angles are larger than 90 degrees.
Walk your feet away from the ball and lie with your upper back, shoulders and the back of your head on the ball. Press your hips up so you form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
Tighten your stomach by contracting your navel toward your spine. Look up toward the ceiling and do not arch your neck.
Straighten your arms in front of your face and lace your fingers together or press your palms together. If you experience pain in your neck, bend your elbows and rest your hands on the back of your head for support.
Exhale, raise your shoulder blades off the ball as you bring your hands toward the outside of your right knee. Or, twist your left elbow and shoulder toward your right knee.
Inhale and slowly return to the starting position. Quickly exhale and perform the torso rotation to the left.
Complete eight to 12 rotations on each side. Rest for 60 seconds and repeat.
- You can also cross your arms over your chest for a medium-intensity torso rotation. Place your lower back and hips on the ball to reduce the intensity of the rotation.
- Use the ball in a space free of clutter. Check with your doctor before you begin any exercise program.
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.