Get on the Ball!
By Ryan Unverzagt
May is the perfect month to initiate an exercise program if you have slacked lately. The weather starts to cooperate better which favors more outdoor activities. Walking, bike riding, hiking, jogging, or even rollerblading are fun things to do this month. I encourage you to get outside but if not, I have a great exercise for your core.
This one’s called the FitBall Crossover Crunch. I find it helpful to use a ball that is a size smaller than the one you normally would use. A 65cm ball is my usual size, however, I’m using a 55cm for this exercise because a smaller ball will keep you closer to the ground for stability. You need your opposite hand and foot touching the floor while performing this exercise. If a bigger ball is used, you might not be able to reach the ground and there’s a good chance you’ll fall off!
To start, lay on top of the ball with it placed on your mid-to-low back. The ball should curve along the lumbar and lower thoracic vertebrae. Keep your opposite foot and hand in contact with the floor while the other leg is straight and parallel to the ground (figure 1). You should have your other elbow bent with the hand behind your head.
Bring your elbow toward the opposite knee (from the straight leg) to “crossover” to the middle. Focus on contracting your abdominals to help bring your shoulder toward the center for a slight rotation (figure 2). During this movement, the ball should not roll. To finish, slowly release tension on the abs to bring your elbow and leg back to the start position.
Finish 20 reps with the same side before you switch to the opposite arm/leg combo. Don’t try to alternate sides, this can be unsafe. To progress, you can add more reps or keep your opposite arm and leg straight during the exercise. Keep up the hard work and we’ll see you next month!
About the Author: Unverzagt holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Wellness Management from Black Hills State University. He is a certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength & Conditioning Association and a Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography.