"Small Ball" Crunches
By Nick Nilsson
When you think of doing crunches on the ball, you most likely get a vision of a large, brightly-colored, rubber inflatable ball.
But did you know there is a far more effective alternative?
Regular large ball crunches are an excellent exercise but you can dramatically increase their effectiveness by performing them on a much smaller ball.
How small of a ball do you use?
The ball I use for the exercise is somewhat larger than a basketball (you can actually use a basketball for this if you like though I prefer the softer ball). It is soft rubber and I got it at Target for two bucks. You can find balls like these at most department or toy stores. Note: if you get a toy ball, be sure it is fairly thick rubber. You don't want it to burst. Test it out at the store before you buy it.
Set the ball on the floor and sit in front of it with your back up against it. Your knees will be bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Roll yourself back over the ball, wrapping your back around the ball as you lay back. Note how the smaller ball not only increases the stretch on the abs but doesn't support your body as much as the larger ball. This vastly increases the demands placed on the abs during the movement.
Not only must your abs execute the crunch movement, they must also balance your torso to a far greater degree than with the larger ball.
Don't be surprised if you find your abs quivering as you do this, even if you are an advanced trainer. I have been doing this one for years and I still get the quivers if I haven't done it in awhile.
Get a full stretch back, rounding your back completely over the ball so your head is almost touching the ground. Crunch up slowly and squeeze your abs hard at the top.
Nick Nilsson is Vice-President of BetterU, Inc., an internet-based personal training company. He has been training for more than 14 years and has been a personal trainer for more than 8 years. He is the author of the training eBooks "The Best Exercises You've Never Heard Of", "Gluteus to the Maximus" and "Specialization Training" (click here now for more information on these books).
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