If your usual crunches and twists aren't meeting your toned tummy desires, it's time to step up the intensity of your core training. Changing your abs routine and incorporating the stability ball into your workouts will challenge your core muscles differently -- and better -- than the typical dozens of crunches. Fabio Comana, MA, MS, exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends the following four advanced ab exercises to give you that sleek torso you seek.
Advanced abs exercises
Core training exercises on the stability ball are more difficult than abs exercises done on the floor or another static surface. Comana suggests these stability ball abs exercises for those who exhibit good core control. The exercises are advanced -- meaning if you haven't done any core training lately, you should work on regaining a foundation of core strength before attempting the following four stability ball exercises.
Start with 1 set of 10 to 15 repetitions for each of these exercises, paying attention to your form. If your form falters or you start to feel pain in your low back or at any other part of your body, stop the exercise (even if you haven't reached 10). Slowly build your core strength and eventually work yourself up to 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
Stability Ball Prone Walkout
Balancing your body over a stability ball as you walk forward on your hands will effectively target your core muscles as well as your upper body. Comana says, "The Stability Ball Prone Walkout involves stabilizing your upper body on an unstable surface in a relatively static position. It requires some trunk strength to support the body, but is an effective exercise for stabilizing the torso — a must for preparing for the next three exercises."
Step 1: Lie on your stomach over the top of a stability ball with both feet and hands on the floor, hip- and shoulder-width apart.
Step 2: Gently exhale, contracting your core muscles to stiffen your torso, and slowly walk yourself forward, lifting your legs off the floor.
Step 3: Continue walking hands forward until the fronts of your thighs are resting on the top of the ball. Retract your shoulder blades and pull your shoulders back and down as you reach your end position, with your arms fully extended and hands positioned squarely under your shoulders. Hold this position briefly, then inhale and slowly walk yourself backwards to your starting position.
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