A Swiss ball is a piece of fitness equipment made of elastic soft PVC and filled with air. The exercise balls are often 35 to 85 centimeters (14 to 34 inches) in diameter and used for physical therapy, athletic training, yoga, pilates and home exercise. The ball is known under many names, including birth ball, body ball, fitness ball, balance ball, pilates ball, Pezzi ball, therapy ball and yoga ball. Swiss balls provide many benefits compared to the exercising directly on a hard surface. This is because the human body responds to the instability of the ball, engaging various muscles to remain balanced. Some people even use the exercise ball for sitting, instead of the chair, since the muscles gradually become stronger to keep balance. Swiss balls are extremely good for building the core body muscles – abdominal and back muscles. Here are some great ball exercises for the abdominal workout.
This is a slight variation of a basic crunch that uses an exercise ball to support the legs. The exerciser lies down on the back while lifting the legs on the ball. The ball is rolled under the butt, and the lower portion of the legs is comfortably resting on top. The knees are bent at exactly 90 degrees. The hands fold behind the head, or rest on the chest. On a long inhale, using the abdominal muscles, the chest comes up towards the knees while the lower back remains on the floor. The position is held for two seconds before slowly returning into the starting pose.
Exercise Ball Abdominal Crunches
This exercise requires a large exercise ball. An exerciser lays back on the ball with the feet placed on the floor. The lower back is centered on the top of the ball, while the hands are lifted on either side of the head. The upper body crunches forward, and shoulders roll towards the hips. During the movement, the abdominal muscles should contract. On the top of the movement, the position is held for a second before slowly releasing and returning into the starting position.
Jackknife Crunch on the Exercise Ball
This fun exercise starts by getting onto the ball with legs parallel to the floor and arms straight down in a push-up position. Using the abdominal muscles, the exerciser draws the feet and knees forward slowly into a full tuck position. The position is held for a couple of seconds before returning to the starting position. It is important to hold the hands and the arms in the proper position throughout the movement.