I am a big fan of the stability ball for core exercises for a couple reasons. It seems like nearly every gym on earth has a couple rolling around in the back somewhere, they aren’t too expensive to own for your home gym equipment, and they are extremely unstable and get muscles firing that would normally be taking a break during your workout. They do have some downsides though. There are all different sizes, so getting one that fits your body and the exercise you are trying can be tricky. It is also incredibly easy to use these bad boys wrong, just check YouTube.
I want to give you a couple exercises that are pretty high in the difficulty. Make no mistake about it. If you haven’t mastered the stability ball rollout and coffee grinders, these exercises aren’t for you….yet. When you are dealing with prone core exercises, if you hit failure your spine is going to become compromised. The last thing you want to have to tell your friends is that you herniated a disc trying to get shredded flopping around on a giant bouncy ball. However, if your core is strong enough, and you know how to keep the back flat with your glutes engaged, give these exercises a shot in your next workout.
1) Rolling Tall Plank w/ Stability Ball
This one requires a little concentration and a lot of humility. You are going to fall at some point. Start in side plank on your hand, put the ball in between your legs and squeeze the crap out of it. Now roll into tall plank (on both hands), then to the other side. Keep the rotation going for 6-10 reps on each side for 3 sets.
2) Pallof Press w/ Stability Ball
This is a great variation of a Pallof press. Put the stability ball under your back, and use your legs for balance. Set up a JC band next to you a couple inches higher than the ball. Hold the handle in front of your chest and press it up into the air. Squeeze your butt and brace your abs like you are about to get punched in the gut. Try and work through 12 reps on each side for 3-4 sets.
3)1-Leg Knee tuck w/ Stability Ball
Get into pushup position with the stability ball under your shins. When you are ready, lift one leg, while driving your other knee towards your armpits. You can, of course, do a regular 2-legged knee tuck, but if you are looking for a real challenge, one leg is the way to go. Keep your hips level throughout the movement. Try to get 8 good reps on each side, 3 times.
I believe that if you build a strong core, you are essentially bullet proofing your spine. I know that it’s not the most fun group of exercises to do, but if something will keep you out of pain, it’s worth it. Pain makes the long days longer, mornings a nightmare, and falling asleep a challenge. Strong core = less injury = better life. It is that simple. Now go find an exercise ball and don’t forget to breathe.