Exercise ball crunches are one of the best exercises for targeting the abs, but like any exercise they may stop losing their effectiveness as you get stronger. If regular exercise ball crunches are failing to make you sore, don’t waste your time wishing they’d work the same way they used to. Instead, modify the exercise to give your abs a fresh challenge.
Advanced exercise ball crunches
Most people do exercise ball crunches by positioning the ball under their middle back and lie back on the ball, resting their shoulder blades. Every time your back touches the ball, your abs get a short break. Instead, roll the ball under your lower back and keep your abs activated the entire time by never allowing your body to rest on the exercise ball.
Starting Position: Sit on the ball with your feet hip-width apart on the ground, thighs parallel to the floor. Cross your arms on your chest. Walk your feet forward slowly and lean back slightly until the exercise ball is touching your lower back. Keep your feet planted and lower your torso backward until it is parallel to the floor and in line with your thighs.
Action: Breathe out as you sit up as high as can. Slowly return to the starting position as you breathe in. Only do as many exercise ball crunches as you can perform safely. Six repetitions may be enough, but you could also do 20 without getting tired depending upon your abdominal strength.
Exercise Tip: Some people don’t realize that they allow their knees and feet to move during the crunches to make the exercise easier. You must keep your knees bent at right angles and your feet stuck to the floor throughout the exercise once you are in the starting position.
Exercise ball crunches with alternating leg lifts
Once advanced exercise ball crunches aren’t challenging anymore, add leg lifts to force your abs to work toward to keep you from falling off the ball.
Starting Position: Begin in the same position as the advanced ball crunches.
Action: Perform an exercise ball crunch as you breathe out just like you did with the first exercise, except that as you sit up, raise your left leg toward the ceiling. Return to the starting position as you take a breath. On the next crunch, lift your right foot off the floor. Do 8 to 30 reps.
Exercise Tip: It’s enough to crunch your torso up halfway and lift your foot only a few inches off the floor.
Exercise ball crunches with legs on wall
Even more advanced than the exercise ball crunches with alternating leg lifts is crunches with legs on the wall. You should not attempt this exercise unless you have mastered the other two because you could easily fall off the ball and hurt yourself if your core isn’t strong enough. However, this exercise is safe for advanced exercisers and works the abdominals more than most ab exercises.
Starting Position: Place an exercise ball near a wall. Get into the starting position with your toes touching the wall, and then put your hands on the floor at your sides. Place one foot on the wall and get your balance. Then, place your other foot on the wall. Position your feet so that they are flat and hip-width distance apart with your shins parallel to the floor. Your thighs should be parallel to the wall. Plce your hands behind your head where you can easily drop them down to the floor to catch yourself if you lose your balance.
Action: Slowly crunch your body up and toward your legs as you exhale. Then, lower your upper body back to the starting position.
Exercise Tip: Don’t try to sit up all the way when doing this last exercise. Crunching up to a 45 or 60 degree angel is sufficient to give your abs a great workout. Start with only a few reps and work up to 20.
These three ab exercises are not for beginners, but beginner exercises are useless for people who’ve been exercising regularly. When ab workouts cease making your abdominals sore it means that at best you are maintaining your strength. You aren’t getting any stronger.
About the Author
Sarka-Jonae is a personal fitness trainer with certifications from NASM and AFAA. She trained clients at 24 Hour Fitness, LA Fitness, and in-home for several years before switching to writing full-time. She also taught group exercise classes and worked as a massage therapist. Sarka-Jonae is a published author. Her debut novel, Between Boyfriends, is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.