We have all seen the infomercials selling the next greatest device guaranteed to give you a rock hard core and 6-pack abs. And despite our cynicism that it will actually work we often find ourselves considering making the purchase. Why?

Who doesn’t want a rock hard core? Especially if all we have to do is strap on a belt and shock our muscles while we sit and watch our favorite sitcom. But let’s get real. Gimmicks do not work. Gadgets do not work. What works is hard work in the kitchen and in the gym.

What is The Core?


The core is defined as the “29 pairs of muscles that support the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex in order to stabilize the spine, pelvis and kinetic chain during functional movements” (April 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal – Core Training: Stabilizing the Confusion). This means that the core not only includes the global muscles, such as the rectus abdominus and obliques that we so often think of when we picture washboard abs, but also the small local muscles of the spine and pelvis, such as the transverse abdominus and multifidi.

How do we train the core and target both the local and global muscles?

One of the most well-known pieces of equipment, the Stability Ball (Gym Ball, Swiss Ball amongst other names), is a wonderful addition to your core strengthening routine because it introduces an unstable surface, which forces your core muscles to work harder to stabilize your spine, and allows for greater ranges of motion and more variability of movement than traditional floor exercises.

When choosing a Stability Ball, make sure that you pick the correct size. You can determine the correct size by looking at charts that recommend ball size based on height or by selecting the ball size that keeps your thighs parallel to the floor when you are sitting on it.

Here are some of my favorite exercises that can be performed using a stability ball:

stability ball moves_3

1. Stability ball pike or knee-ups
2. Stir the pots
3. Plank on stability ball
4. Dying bug with stability ball
5. Stability ball roll outs
6. Bridges on stability ball
7. Lumbar extension on stability ball
8. Crunches and oblique crunches on stability ball
9. Stability ball walk outs
10. Hip extension on stability ball

Each of the above exercises can be performed for repetitions or for time. I recommend beginning with either 3 sets of 10 or 3 sets of 30 seconds and increasing the repetitions or time as you become comfortable on the stability ball and improve your strength.

When introducing these exercises into your routine remember that you should never feel pain, especially in your lumbar spine, and you should be able to maintain good form throughout. If you begin to feel pain or find that you are becoming sloppy in your performance stop and re-evaluate what you are doing.

Before trying the more advanced moves make sure that you are comfortable sitting on the stability ball and performing basic crunches without losing your balance.

I hope you try these exercises and make them a regular part of your core training as a strong core means better posture, better movement patterns, and greater overall function.

I’m always listening so if you need help, have questions or are looking for a personal trainer you can find me here on my Expert Profile page. Happy, healthy living my friends!

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