An ab ball, also called exercise ball or fitness ball can be the perfect abs machine and very effective for your abs workout. So, what exactly is an ab ball? An abs ball is a heavy-duty inflatable rubber ball on which you can sit or lie to perform your exercises. They come in different sizes so you can choose the one that fits your body size.
Using ab balls as ab exercise equipment has several advantages:
- When doing a crunch on an ab ball your back stretches backward. In comparison with the standard crunch where you lie on the floor, on an abs ball you train your abdominals in a much wider range of motion and it has been scientifically proven that this trains your abdominals more.
- You need to permanently maintain your balance on the ab ball. That means that you train a wide variety of muscles at the same time and your lower back and abdominals have to work harder to maintain stability while at the same time doing the crunch.
- You gain increased balance, stability and coordination.
- Many people find the workout on the stability ball more comfortable than the standard crunch on the floor.
- Keep in mind that one of the main functions of your abdominals is not only to flex your torso, but to actually give stability to your torso, balancing your body and protecting your spine from injury. It is clear that a workout on the ab ball where you permanently need to adjust your balance is the perfect exercise for this objective and will give you true core strength.
- With an abs ball you can train all your abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis, obliques and transverse abdominis).
How to train your abs on an ab ball:
- When you start off exercising on an ball, make sure that you hold onto a wall in order to maintain the balance.
- Sit on the abs ball, then move your feet forward while leaning backwards, until you reach the initial position in which you lie face upwards on the ball, your back stretched backwards over the ball.
- Place your fingers behind your head.
- Now do the crunch movement, flexing your torso approaching your rips towards your thighs.
- There is no need to do a complete sit-up (the last part of the movement only trains your hip flexors and not your abdominals), it’s enough to get up to a position where your body is angled about 30º .
- Now slowly lower your weight again until your back is again stretched over the exercise ball.
You find three more effective ab workout in this Youtube video.
Watch out, unlike other abs machines, the ab ball does not provide any support for your neck so you need to stabilize it yourself. Many persons make the error of locking both hands behind their head and then pulling their head upwards, straining your neck. In order to avoid that, the best trick is not to lock the fingers of your hands. Place your fingers on each side of your head so that they just touch. When doing the exercise focus on maintaining the head in line with your spine, don’t tilt it forward.
What size of Ab Ball to chose?
Ab Balls exist in a variety of different sizes and you need to select the right size for your height. As a general rule, when you sit on an ab ball you should note:
- your feet are even on the ground with an equal distribution of the weight (not standing on the tip of the toes)
- your knees should create an angle of 90 degrees or a little more – this means that if you look at it from the side, your hips are at the same height or slightly above your knees
- your upper body should be straight, not leaning forward or backwards to balance.
Here is a recommendation of what size of ab ball you need based on your height (information courtesy of spine-health.com)
|Ab Ball Diameter||Your height|
|5′ and under||45 cm|
|5’1″– 5’8″||55 cm|
|5’9″– 6’2″||65 cm|
|6’3″– 6’7″||75 cm|
|6’8″ and taller||85 cm|
You can find cheap ab balls at Amazon for around 20US$. The TKO series has the advantage that they are anti-burst. Don’t forget to buy also an Air Pump.
TKO Anti Burst Ab Ball Set