Get on the Ball ... and Reclaim Your Abs
By Dana Sullivan
Tired of doing basic crunches? Then get on the ball! The physio ball,
that is. The oversized ball is now a staple in every gym, but it's an
affordable and super versatile piece of gear that you use at home as
well. By some estimates, there are more than 300 exercises you can do
with a ball; you can find one at retailers like Target or Wal-Mart, or
order online at The Fitterfirst Website.
Do the following four
exercises, recommended by Liz Neporent, an exercise physiologist and
trainer in New York City whose latest book is The Ultimate Body
(Ballantine), and you'll mold your middle back into shape in no time.
"Your body -- especially your belly -- just went through a major event
and you need to give it at least 12 weeks to recover," she says. "But
with patience and consistent exercise, you can do it."
Here are four of Neporent's favorite exercise-ball belly shapers:
- Ball crunch
Lie faceup on an exercise ball, rolling the
ball back until it's under the small of your back. Position your feet
shoulder-width apart and flat on the floor, knees apart. Rest your head
in your hands. Keeping your head and neck relaxed, exhale and contract
your abdominal muscles, lifting your shoulders off the ball. Hold for a
two-count. Inhale as you slowly lower to the starting position. Repeat
- Kneeling hold on the ball
Place the ball in front of
you and kneel down; place your hands on top of the ball. Straighten
your arms and hold your body in this outstretched position (kind of
like a push-up). Concentrate on the contraction of your abs and hold
for 5 seconds and relax; work up to 30 seconds.
- Side bridge
Drape yourself sideways over the ball,
so it's under your right side. Support yourself with your forearm (on
the ball) and your leg. Inhale and lift your torso up off the floor and
hold. You can place left hand on your hip, or to make the move more
challenging, lift it overhead. Hold 5-30 seconds.
- Oblique curls
Lie face up on the ball, so it's
positioned under your hips and lower back. Place your feet flat on the
floor, knees bent so your knees are aligned over your ankles. Bend your
elbows and place your hands over your ears. Contract your abs and lift
your middle back off the ball, moving the right side of your rib cage
toward the left side of your pelvis. Release, and repeat in the
opposite direction. Repeat 8-15 times on each side.