Using a stability ball takes your lower ab routine to a new level of intensity. Because the ball introduces instability, your abdominal muscles are forced to work harder to keep your body steady as you work out. Multiple hip and shoulder muscles can also be simultaneously targeted depending on the exercise.
Use this simple piece of equipment to complete a wide variety of exercises targeting the lower abs.
By bringing the hands and feet together as you transfer the stability ball, the lower abs and the entire rectus abdominis muscle are strengthened in this exercise.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back while holding a stability ball over your head with your arms outstretched. Simultaneously bring your arms and legs together above your body. Keep your elbows and your knees straight as you do this.
When they meet, “hand off” the ball to your feet and then slowly lower it to the ground with your legs. Then, repeat and give the ball back to your arms.
To make this exercise less challenging, keep the knees bent throughout instead of straightening them.
2. Mini Crunch
Adding the instability of a ball makes a mini crunch more challenging and intensifies the lower ab workout.
HOW TO DO IT: With your feet on the floor, lie back onto the stability ball so it is contacting your mid back. Interlace your fingers behind your head and keep your elbows pointing out.
Without shrugging your shoulders or tensing your neck muscles, draw your abdominal muscles in and slowly round your spine. Do not allow your feet or the ball to move as you perform. Hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then slowly return to the starting position.
3. Knee Tucks
By flexing the legs under the body, knee tucks activate the lower abs as well as the hip flexors.
HOW TO DO IT: Get into the push-up position with your hands resting on the ground beneath your shoulders and the tops of your feet propped on a stability ball.
Draw your abdominal muscles in and slowly bend your knees towards you as you roll the ball forwards. Try to keep your spine straight and avoid tilting your hips as you perform.
When you are unable to move the ball forwards any more, hold the position for 1 to 2 seconds and then slowly return to the starting position.
4. Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers are a creative variation of a plank that challenge the lower abs to maintain stability while the legs move.
HOW TO DO IT: Get into the push-up position with both arms extended on a stability ball and your body lifted onto your toes. After drawing in your stomach muscles, bend your right knee under you towards your right arm.
Keep your pelvis and hips from tilting and maintain a straight spine. When you are unable to bring your knee any further forward, hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then return the leg to the starting position. Then, repeat with the left knee.
A pike is a great multi-muscle exercise that not only challenges the lower abs but also strengthens the shoulders and hips.
HOW TO DO IT: Get into a push-up position with your arms outstretched and your feet propped on a stability ball. Slowly bend your hips and raise your buttocks into the air as the ball rolls closer to your hands.
When the ball is 8 to 12 inches away from your hands, hold the “inverted V” position for 1 to 2 seconds and then slowly return to the starting position.
To improve lower abdominal strength, perform two to three sets of 10 repetitions of each exercise. This should be completed two to three times per week. The exercises provide challenge, but stop if they cause pain. Consult a doctor with any questions or concerns prior to beginning a new exercise routine.