I think if you surveyed people on which body part they want to get in shape the most, it would be their abdomen. It makes sense. It’s usually the first part of us that starts to show our age and/or our lack of attention to our bodies and for some of us it’s stretched during pregnancy. For some of us it was never really flat after the 8th grade. But it’s also one of the most important parts of our whole self and why we need to take better care of it.
Our abdominal muscle group not only provides support for our body’s general movements and posture but they assist in our breathing and protect our vital organs. Pool muscle condition in this area leads to a wealth of health problems with the most common being chronic low back pain.
So, to those of you who are slaving away on the ab machines at the gym or curled up on the floor doing crunches – keep doing what your doing becuase it’s doing wonders for your overall health and not just for bikini season. But if you wanted to try something differnt and more challenging, try the plyo ball (aka exercise ball or body ball).
Spending just 10 minutes or so working with the body ball will engage more parts of your abdominal muscle group than the ab machine or crunches alone. The reason for this is because these exercises incorporate stabilization and balance into the mix. You have to maintain your balance and keep steady while still performing the crunch on the ball, so you get an added benefit from both sides of the crunch – on the way up and the way back down. The machines and regular crunches hold you in a particular position without forcing you to balance because the floor or the chair is doing that for you.
In addition, the plyo ball is cheap – about $10 at Wal-Mart. You can get then at any sporting goods store too and they come with their own little pump. They’re not an overwhelming size either so they can fit in either a closet or corner of a room…just make sure they don’t collect dust there 🙂 Many gyms have them as well. I recommend making sure you have sneakers on when you’re working with the ball…I tried it in socks once and I slipped.
If your ready to throw something different into your ab routine then try this:
1-lie on the ball with the arch of your back supported, keep your feet flat on the floor, & cross your arms behind your head
2-curl your upper body squeezing your abdominals and lifting your shoulders and upper back
3-return to your starting position
4-do 3 to 5 sets of these with anywhere from 10-20 reps in each set (this will depend on your ability-do what feels comfortable)
5-when you have that part down then add a little twist when you are at the top of your crunch to work more of your obliques.