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Physioball Exercises for Your Core

And now for something completely different.

The Physioball, also known as a Swiss Ball or exercise ball, is a relative newcomer to sports training, but it does offer some unique core-training benefits. Besides offering a nice change-up from the common floor exercises, the Physioball’s dynamic exercise platform can actually calls more core muscles into play in order to maintain stability throughout the exercise. Certainly some readers will be skeptical as to how difficult such “ball training” could be (ready to click out of here, right?). Well, I challenge you to try the following three exercises–if you can do all three flawlessly on your first attempt, then you are a better man than me! These exercises are listed in order of difficulty, and don’t be surprised if you find the third exercise to be very difficult.

physical-physioball1Ball Crunch

The exercise is not much different from a floor crunch, except that the unstable ball platform causes more core muscles to contract. The ball also allows you to begin the crunch from a slightly hyperextended back position which increases the range of motion a bit. Perform one or two sets of 15 to 30 repetitions.

 

 

physical-physioball2

Ball Planch

This exercise is similar to, though much easier than, the Planch move performed by gymnasts. Still, you’ll find it provides a good workout of your shoulders, chest, back and all the muscles of the core.

1. Assume a push-up position with your arms straight down under your shoulders, your torso straight and inline with your feet, and your feet resting on the top of the ball.

2. Keeping your arms, back, and legs straight, lift one foot off the ball for a few seconds. Contract the muscles of your torso as needed to maintain balance.

3. Return your foot to the ball, and then lift the other foot off the ball for a few seconds.

4. Continue lifting one foot at a time off the ball for up to a minute. Stop when you can no longer maintain balance on the ball. Rest for three minutes and do a second set.

 

physical-physioball3Floating Leg Raise

This final exercise targets the lower abdominals as you float on your back on top of the ball.

1. Position the ball two to three feet from the edge of a heavy bench or chair.

2. Lie back on the ball with middle portion of your back positioned over the top of the ball and extend your arms behind your head to hold on to the end of the bench.

Rest your heels on the floor with slightly bent legs and feet together.

Photos of Nikki Baillie Copyright 2006 Eric Horst.