On the Stability Ball 3: Building Core Strength for Better Balance

In this third installment of our stability ball workout series, we’re putting the spotlight on core strength — while working your upper and lower body at the same time.

Make sure you’ve mastered the exercises in Part 1 and Part 2 of our stability ball series before trying these ones, since we’re increasing the difficulty level with each installment. Once you achieve the repetition range for each exercise below, you’ll be ready for the challenge of Part 4.

Building-Core-Strength

Using a stability ball is a great way to create instability for your core. In a recent study, participants with an average age of 70 completed a 9-week core instability training program. Compared to the control group, participants in the intervention group improved on measures of core muscle strength, dynamic balance and functional mobility. Researchers concluded that this type of training was effective at mitigating some of the age-related declines in these areas, and should be used in conjunction with regular resistance training like weightlifting.

1. Roll-out with Mountain Climber

This move builds on the “alphabet” exercise from Part 2, and the roll-out from Part 1, adding leg movement into the equation.

Stability-Ball-Mountain-Climber
Bright Photography

Start in a plank position, with your feet on the floor, forearms on the stability ball. Make sure your elbows are positioned directly under your shoulders. Slightly tuck in your pelvis to minimize the curve in your lower back and engage the core muscles.

Keeping your entire body rigid, roll the ball forward a few inches with your arms. Make sure your lower back doesn’t sag toward the ground. As you roll the ball back toward you, lift your right foot off the floor and tuck your knee toward the ball. Roll the ball back out as you return your right leg to the starting position. Bring the ball in again while tucking with your left leg, and repeat. Work your way up to three sets of 20 repetitions (10 on each side).

2. Push-up with Tuck

This move strengthens both your core and your upper body. I use this exercise as part of a challenging conditioning circuit with my older clients.

Stability-Ball-Exercises-Push-up-with-Tuck

Start in a plank position with your hands on the floor and tops of your feet resting on the stability ball (like the tuck in Part 2). Perform a push-up, bending your arms and lowering your chest toward the floor as far as you can go. Press back up to the starting position, then bend your knees and use your core muscles to pull the ball toward your chest. Straighten your legs back to the start position. That’s one repetition. Keep alternating push-ups and tucks in this manner for the remainder of your set. Aim for three sets of 15 repetitions.

3. Leg Elevated Split Squat

This exercise improves your single-leg stability and strength, which is important for improving your balance and preventing falls in later life.

Leg-Elevated-Split-Squat

Stand facing away from the stability ball. Extend your right leg behind you and place the top of your foot onto the ball. Squat down by flexing your left hip and knee, until your right knee almost touches the ground. Return to the starting position by pressing through your left foot. Repeat for repetitions, then switch sides. Make sure you keep your torso upright. Your front knee should stay in line with your front foot at all times. Aim for three sets of 15 repetitions on each leg.

Trainer’s Tip

Remember that an important function of your core (most of your trunk muscles) is to resist movement, not to create it. To get the most benefit for your core muscles, brace your abs as if you’re about to get punched in the stomach, and make sure you’re minimizing the amount of movement that occurs in your pelvis and lower back.

About the Writer

Karina Inkster

Karina is a Certified Personal Training Specialist with a Master’s degree in Gerontology, and specializes in health and aging. Based in Vancouver, BC, she's the author of Vegan Vitality and Foam Rolling: 50 Exercises for Massage, Injury Prevention and Core Strength.

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