Weak core = poor posture. Weak core = lower back pain and muscle injuries.
Strong core? You’re probably imagining rippling abs and a gym honed bod. But you’d be overlooking a whole host of other benefits too.
Strong core = excellent starting point to tackle more challenging exercises.
Today we want to bust some core myths and let you in a secret (that secret being that you need nothing more than a gym ball to put your core through its paces).
But before we begin, let’s start with a basic explainer as to what the core is (and isn’t).
What Is ‘the Core’?
“Engage your core”, you’ve heard the term (probably over and over again). But what exactly is ‘the core’?
Don’t mistake ‘the core’ for simply meaning the abdominal muscles, as it also include muscles that are located deep within the torso. There are three main muscle groups that make up the core:
- The abdominals in the front;
- The obliques on the side; and
- The latissimus dorsi, the erector spinae and the glutes in the back.
Note the word main in our explanation above. This is important, as the core also involves many smaller muscles. Further supporting actors when it comes to the core include the muscles in the hips and legs, as well as those in the upper back.
Why Your Core Needs a Gym Ball at the Centre of Your Fitness Regime
That humble gym ball boasts many, many benefits for your body. Let’s run through them now...
- Rehabilitate back, hip and knee injuries
- Improve core stability, posture and muscle balance
- Enhance flexibility
- Boost the cardiovascular system
- Enjoy a low-impact workout
Eight Core-Kicking Gym Ball Exercises
Each of these core-popping exercises has been carefully picked to ensure all your important core muscles are being worked hard, with some added support from the arms, legs and butt too! Follow ease exercise carefully to ensure proper form until you get the hang of it, and if after finishing you still feel like you’ve got more to give? Repeat for another set or two!
1. The Gym Ball Knee Raise
A classic but great, this simple exercise will warm you up and get those abs and supporting thigh muscles working
Reps: 8 - 12, each leg
- Balance on your gym ball with your core engaged.
- Lift your right foot off the ground, moving the knee upwards to the chest.
- Gradually lower your leg back to the floor. 1 rep, done.
Proworks Pro Tip: Want to take it easy to begin with? Simply place your ball near a wall that can aid your balance.
2. The Ball Trunk
Let’s ramp it up a gear or two, with an exercise that will test your balance and boost your core
Reps: 5 - 10
- Begin in the plank position, with your hands aligned with your shoulders.
- Engaging your core, pull your knees towards your chest, rolling your gym ball towards you as you do so.
- Straighten your legs and move back into the starting position.
Proworks Pro Tip: This one can be a tough one to tackle as a fitness newbie. Make it a little easier by taking a break in-between rolls - plank for either 30 or 60 seconds.
3. The Hamstring Roll-In
Turning the plank on its head to transforming those loose hamstrings
Reps: 5 - 10
- This exercise is the exact opposite to the Ball Trunk detailed in the exercise above. Start with your back on the floor, arms either side of you with your palms flat on the floor, and your legs up on the exercise ball.
- The key pointer here is to ensure the hips stay elevated throughout, with your body forming a straight, diagonal line from feet to head.
- With your hips raised up, engage your code and pull your knees towards your chest, rolling your gym ball towards you as you do so.
- Straighten your legs back out into the starting position.
Proworks Pro Tip: Love a challenge? Instead of keeping your palms flat on the floor, cross your arms over your body. This will remove the support that your arms provide, pushing your core to work harder.
4. The Grasshopper
Getting serious, with a full body stability and core exercise
Reps: 8 - 12, each side
- Get into a push-up position, ensuring that your body remains in a straight line all the way from your head to your toes. Your hips should also be aligned with the floor, with your core engaged.
- Pull one knee towards the chest, don’t let your hips sink at any point.
- Twist the body slightly while you move your left leg to point out to your right side.
Proworks Pro Tip: Delicate wrists? Grab your dumb bells to use as a base. This will help keep your wrists stable.
5. The Lateral Crab Walk
An exercise that looks deceptively easy (but that crunches those glutes BIG time)
Reps: 12, each side
- Lay back onto the gym ball. Get into a position where it acts as a cushion, with your arms reaching out and your core engaged.
- Keep your hips lifted and in line with your knees and shoulders.
- Slowly step laterally to the left by just a few inches. Be prepared to feel a surprise glute contraction, as your left side takes the strain of supporting your weight. Repeat to the right.
Proworks Pro Tip: You can make this exercise harder by lifting the opposite leg up once you’ve stepped out to the side.
6. The Hands-to-Feet Pass
This exercise will really be felt in your hard-working lower abs (remember: no pain, no gain)
Reps: 10 - 15
- Lie facing the ceiling, with your legs extended above the floor and your arms stretched overhead with your gym ball in hand.
- Crunch those abs and lift your legs, once your legs meet your hands pass the ball across from hands to feet. As you do so squeeze the thighs and pause for a couple of counts.
- Lower both arms and legs, and repeat.
7. The Decline Push-Up
Not just a core challenge, this exercise will also put your biceps to the test
Reps: 8 - 10
This one is so straight forward it needs no steps. Simply perform a push-up as you would normally, but use the gym ball to elevate your legs.
Proworks Pro Tip: Too hard? Just do regular push-ups until you’re strong enough to advance to decline push-ups. Still too hard? Invert it and try incline push-ups as an easy place to start.
8. The Gym Ball Wall Squat
Strengthen your glutes, hamstrings and quads and boost your stability from your hips through to your core
Another simple exercise to finish on, this gym ball core-builder works exactly as a normal squat does, but you use a gym ball to steady yourself and (hopefully) go that little bit lower (ultimately you’re aiming to get to a 90-degree angle with your knees bent).
Proworks Pro Tip: Once mastered you can make this move harder by adding some dumbbells to each hand.
Get Kitted Out
By now it should be clear - that a premium quality gym ball is an essential addition for your home gym. Grab yours right here. Available in a wide range of colours and sizes!
For one week only if you buy an exclusive Proworks exercise ball you can use the code GYMBALL20 for 20% off your order.
Promotion is only valid for the Proworks exercise balls (any colour).
Offer expires 31/05/2019 23:59. Limit of one use per customer.