Introducing some balance work into your routine adds variety and new challenges! The Swiss ball can improve core alignment, muscle strength, flexibility, coordination and posture
. Having a strong core is key to decreasing the risk of injury (as well as the aesthetic benefits of honing a six pack!), so it's worth investing time. The Swiss ball targets the stabiliser muscles, i.e. those smaller muscles that help to maintain your balance on the ball. Because of that, you end up sculpting all the muscle groups in the abdominal collective - the transversus
(for a flatter
stomach), the obliques
(for a gorgeous and shaped waist), and the superficial muscle, the rectus
. This inflatable plastic wonder-globe is great as it requires a full range of motion - for example full abdominal crunches - hitting the muscles from all angles, with vast variation and diversity. It's a more challenging ab workout than you could otherwise manage...
The combination of the 5 exercises below work the core in what I think is a very well balanced regime
, targeting: the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, obliques abdominis, and the erector spinae. Keeping your core strong and toned can protect the lumbar back area, and help to balance any weight-bearing stresses you might encounter. These core muscles stabilise the spine, pelvis and shoulder. Hiit them hard!
1) Jacknife (as per below pictures) - 3 sets of 12 reps.
Total body exercise - including chest, arms, legs and of course abs!
1. Place your ankles on top of the swiss ball, extend your legs, keep your chest facing the floor. Lift yourself up onto your hands.
2. Distribute your weight evenly between your arms and ball, then slowly and in a controlled manner, roll the ball in towards your chest by bending your knees and hips. Breathe out when rolling the ball towards you. Keep the knees close to the chest, and engage the abdominals throughout.
3. Return to starting position by breathing in.
2) Swiss ball plank & roll (as per below picture) - 3 sets of 12 reps.
1. Place your body weight on your toes and forearms, whilst leaning on top of the swiss ball in front of you.
2. Raise your knees from the floor by rolling forward on the ball until your legs are fully extended and return back after a short pause, during which you maximally engage the abs!
3. Remember to keep your back straight throughout.
3) Swiss Ball Leg Raises (as per below pictures) - 3 sets of 12 reps.
This one targets the transverse abdominis with exceptional accuracy, plus it's extremely involving from the perspective of the stabiliser muscles.
1. Lie flat on your back with your hands beside your hips, palm-down on the floor. Clasp the swiss-ball between the inner edges of your feet.
2. Maintaining straight legs, lift the Swiss ball so that your profile forms a right-angle, all the while engaging your abs.
3. Slowly and in a controlled fashion, lower the Swiss Ball back down to the ground, not quite letting it actually touch
the ground, then repeat.
4. Ensure that you breathe out when lifting the ball, and breathe in when lowering it back down.
4) Ball Sit-Up (as per below picture) - 3 sets of 12 reps.
This exercise is an effective way to strengthen the abs and
back! Once you're used to the swiss ball you can introduce more resistance by adding a weight - plate to hold during a crunch for example.
1. Lie with your lower back resting on the swiss ball, with your hands brushing your temples/ears (if you're not lifting a weight).
2. Raise your upper body up until you feel the crunch in your stomach and hold for three seconds. Avoid using momentum to pull yourself up and keep your legs still. Return to starting position by lowering yourself back down.
3. Breathe out whilst exerting on the way up and breathe in when returning to the starting position.
The support of the ball's soft surface means you feel far less pain on your spine than you would lying on the floor. It makes the body believe it's doing less work than it in fact is, and you might therefore end up doing more work then you otherwise would!
5) Swiss ball plank + one leg to the side (as per below pictures) - 3 sets of 12 reps.
1. Place your body weight on your hands and your feet/ankles on the swiss ball. Maintaining a straight back.
2. Slowly and controlled take on foot of the swiss ball an lower it toward the ground to your side. Tap it gently on the ground and return back after a short pause.
3. Keep your back straight throughout.
Here are some more pics from the gorgeous gym at the Hotel Le Mas Candille, in the South of France. Hope you enjoyed this workout :) x