Sunday, May 13, 2007

Core Exercises on the Ball and Good Posture

Ask Glen!

Q.Any more Ball exercises?

A. Yes and they work great! ( with proper diet )

The exercise ball is a great tool for strengthening the abs, but it also helps you reach those hard-to-get-to muscles (such as the TVA and erector spinae), as well as improving your balance and overall coordination. The following exercises offer challenging ways to work a variety of muscle groups. Many of these moves are advanced exercises that require previous experience with an exercise ball. If you're new to the exercise ball, try this Beginner Ball Workout.

  • When first trying these exercises, you may want to hold onto a wall or prop the ball against something sturdy for added stability.
  • Perform 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps of each exercise, taking care to perfect your form before increasing sets or reps.
  • Avoid any moves that cause pain or that you're not clear how to do correctly.
  • Always see your doctor before exercising if you have any existing injuries or conditions.
Back Extension
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Position the ball under your hips and lower torso with the knees straight or bent. With hands behind the head or behind back, slowly roll down the ball. Lift your chest off the ball, bringing your shoulders up until your body is in a straight line. Make sure your body is in alignment (i.e., head, neck, shoulders and back are in a straight line), your abs are pulled in and that don't hyperextend the back.
Ball Balance
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Position the ball under your abs and hips, hands on the floor and legs straight and off the floor. Hold that position for 20 to 30 seconds, keeping your body in a straight line, abs pulled in. Keeping balance, slowly raise your right arm out to the side, taking care not to roll or allow any part of your body to collapse. Hold that for a few seconds and switch arms. This is tougher than it looks!
Butt Lift
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Lie on the ball with the head, neck and shoulders supported, knees bent and body in a table-top position. Lower the hips towards the floor without rolling on the ball. Squeeze the glutes to raise hips until body is in a straight line like a bridge. Hold weights on the hips for added intensity and make sure you press through the heels and not the toes.
Hip Extension
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Lie down with feet heels propped on ball. Keeping abs tight, slowly lift your hips off the floor (squeezing the glutes) until body is in a straight line. Hold for a few seconds and lower. For added intensity, lift the hips and then take one leg off the ball, hold for a moment and lower. Repeat, lifting the other leg off the ball.
Ab Roll
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Place your hands on the ball in front of you, arms parallel. Pulling your belly button towards your spine and tightening your torso, slowly roll forward, rolling the ball out as far as you can without arching or straining the back. Push the elbows into the ball and squeeze the abs to pull the body back to start. Avoid this move if you have back problems.
Ball Rotation
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Lie with ball under shoulders and lower back, arms straight up over chest, palms together. Hold your body in a straight line from hips to knees. Tightening your glutes and abs, slowly twist your body to the left, sweeping arms parallel to the floor, then back up, repeating on the other side. Try not to collapse the body or roll too far, but really use your abs.
Ball Twist
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Get into a pushup position with the feet on either side of the ball (turning your ankles so that you are hugging the ball). Hold body in a straight line with abs pulled in, hips straight and hands directly under shoulders. Slowly twist the ball to the right while trying to keep your shoulders level, then to the left. Don't sag in the middle.

Core Strength and Good Posture

If you're following the trends in exercise and fitness, you've probably heard the phrase "core strength." Core strength refers to the muscles of your abs and back and their ability to support your spine and keep your body stable and balanced. Learn how to strengthen your core, reduce back pain and get strong abs.

Core Muscles

The major muscles of your core include:

  • Transverse Abdominis (TVA)-The deepest of the abdominal muscles, this lies under the obliques (muscles of your waist). It acts like a weight belt, wrapping around your spine for protection and stability.Target Exercise: Plank
  • External Obliques-These muscles are on the side and front of the abdomen, around your waist.Target Exercise: Arm Sweep
  • Internal Obliques-These muscles lie under the external obliques, running in the opposite direction.Target Exercise: Crossover Crunch
  • Rectus Abdominis-The Rectus Abdominis is a long muscle that extends along the front of the abdomen.
  • This is the 'six-pack' part of the abs that becomes visible with reduced body fat. Target Exercise: Crunch
  • Erector Spinae -The erector spinae is actually a collection of three muscles along your neck to your lower back. Target Exercise: Back Extension

Be sure to target these muscles in your strength training workouts. While ab muscles can't be separated (they all work together in each exercise), there are exercises that favor certain portions of the abs, as listed above.

Core Strength and Back Pain

When the core muscles are weak or there's an imbalance (say you work your rectus abdominis with crunches but fail to strengthen your TVA), a common side effect is back pain. Many of us experience lower back pain from:

Back pain is common because so many muscles have to contract and relax in order to allow you to stand and move. Tendons attachmuscles to bones, ligaments hold your vertebrae together and muscles protect your spine and hold your body in place. If all of these are healthy and strong, you're good to go. But, if you have weak muscles, poor posture and/or excess weight and your back will be one of the first places you feel the strain.

Dealing With Back Pain

First, see your doctor to rule out major injuries. If your doctor gives you the okay, you can get busy strengthening your torso. Your first step? Posture.


If you've ever worked with a trainer or used an exercise video, you've probably heard the phrase 'proper form.' Proper form usually refers to your posture as you're doing an exercise. There are certain things you can do all day and while lifting to reduce your chances of injury.

Proper Posture

When standing, proper posture involves aligning body in alignment so that the pull of gravity is evenly distributed. Good posture includes:

  • A straight line from your ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles
  • Head is centered
  • Shoulders, hips and knees are of equal height

Some of the most common posture mistakes include:

  • forward head
  • rounded shoulders
  • arched lower back
  • excessive anterior pelvic tilt (protruding backside)
  • excessive posterior pelvic tilt (protruding abdomen/pelvis)

Test Your Posture

To figure out if you have good posture, take the following posture tests.

The Wall Test - Stand with the back of your head touching the wall and your heels six inches from the baseboard.

With your fanny touching the wall, stick your hand between your lower back and the wall, and then between your neck and the wall. If you can get within an inch or two at the low back and two inches at the neck, you are close to having excellent posture.

The Mirror Test - Stand facing a full length mirror and check to see if:

  1. Your head is straight
  2. Your shoulders are level
  3. Your hips are level
  4. Your kneecaps face the front
  5. Your ankles are straight

Now look at yourself from the side (or have someone else check you out) and look for the following:

  1. Your head is straight rather than slumped forwards or backwards
  2. Chin is parallel to the floor
  3. Shoulders are in line with ears
  4. Knees are straight
  5. Slight forward curve to your lower back

What You Can Do for Better Posture

Once you determine your posture deviations, you can start working on them. Your first step is to be aware of your posture throughout the day; while standing, sitting at work, sitting in your car. Ask yourself if you're keeping everything in neutral alignment?

Depending on your problems, there are things you can do to help correct your posture. For example, if you have a forward head and rounded shoulders, you probably have tight chest muscles and loose upper back muscles. Try some corrective stretching for the chest area and tighten the upper back muscles with a reverse fly or back extension. If you have an excessive anterior pelvic tilt, corrective stretching should be done for the hips and back and strengthening exercise should be done for the lower body and abdominals.

Any personal health questions or problems mental or physical. Please consult your physician !

Wishing You Great Health!

Glen Edward Mitchell

Any questions? Ask Glen!

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Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States
Is the Founder of Fitness Builders 4 Life,the WorkOut GEM,G350,G180, G90, Eat 4 Life, Clean, Lean & Mean & Ask Glen. The mission of the Fitness Builders is to provide the community with health education and to empower people to change unhealthy lifestyles thereby increasing life expectancy. By educating the community on healthier lifestyle practices it is the intent of Fitness Builders to reduce the ravages of obesity, heart disease, cancer and other lifestyle or self inflicted diseases. Glen is also a AMA Certified Nutrition Specialist and a ACE, ACSM, NASM Certified Personal Trainer has 30+ years in Sports, Exercise Science and Nutritional Food Management, Learning and Mentoring Men and Women on a more Mental & Physical Healthy Life Style consisting of a low fat, low salt, Low carbohydrate, high protein, organic nutrition which also includes moderate exercise and mental awareness. Stay Informed, Live long and be Mentally and Physically Healthy! Any questions? Ask Glen!

Any Questions? Ask Glen!