Training Your Core Can be a Ball
by Rob Williams, Postmedia News
published November 21, 2011
rating: (23 Ratings)
3 exercises with your fitness ball
I often get friends, family and clients asking me about my favourite core exercises, and I actually find it hard to answer them. The core system is so foundational and central to all body positions and movements, there's a case to be made that almost all movements, when done correctly, should engage and condition the core.
When it comes to exercises that are intended to target the muscles of the mid-section directly, I often categorize them based on movements, training techniques or tools used.
Maybe I'm looking for soccer-specific activities, or moves that target the body's slings, or perhaps only exercises that use medicine balls. There is such diversity in these exercises that I need to organize them somehow!
Although many people train their core as a way to achieve a great looking mid-section, it's also important to remember that the best reason for conditioning the core is to provide better support and more efficient function for the body. Movement, posture and balance are all better when your core is doing its job.
Remember when performing any exercise, position is paramount. Poor positional alignment creates poor movement. It's also important to engage the deep, inner-unit core system first, to provide stability to the pelvis and lumbar spine, before initiating the exercise.
Not only does this save your lower back, hips, etc., from excessive stress and strain, but it will also give you a tighter, flatter mid-section.
Following are three good core exercises that can be performed with exercise balls, at home or in the gym. Pay close attention to effective core stabilization and neutral alignment at all times. Remember to perform a thorough warm-up beforehand and consult your physician before undertaking a new fitness program.
Bridging is a great exercise for training your lower back and hip extensor muscles, including your glutes and hamstrings. Often done with the feet on the floor, bridging can also be performed with the feet placed on top of an exercise ball, which provides an added level of difficulty due to the instability of the ball.
Begin by lying on your back with your legs resting on the ball. The further the ball is from your hips, the more difficult the exercise, due to the longer levers. Start with the ball at the back of your knees and gradually move it closer to your feet. Engage your core and lift your hips until your body is straight from your shoulders to your feet.
Be sure not to let your knees hyper-extend. Holding this position requires constant work by your entire posterior sling system. To increase the challenge, roll the ball from side to side, or lift one leg off the ball, while keeping a level, elevated pelvis. Maintain strict form and go for three holds of up to one minute each.
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