Stability balls are a great training tool for every exercise program. Any movement done on an unstable surface such as a stability ball is inherently more challenging. This week’s exercise incorporates the stability ball with the pushup plank. Review the first two exercises, stability ball with squats and stability ball with lunges.
There are several progressions in my pushup plank series. The first exercise is to hold a pushup position on the stability ball. When this becomes easy, lower yourself towards the ball and perform a pushup. You can place the ball against a wall to help with stabilization.
The next exercise requires you to get into a pushup plank position with shins or thighs on the ball. The further the ball is from your center, the more challenging the exercise will be. In addition, performing this exercise on a smaller ball will be more difficult than a larger sized one. While holding your plank position (shins/thighs stay on ball and body is in a straight line from head to toe) try the following exercises:
Lift your right arm and hold
Lift your left arm and hold
Lift your right leg and hold
Lift your left leg and hold
These five moves require a tremendous amount of core strength to maintain balance and form on the ball. If this is too difficult, try just holding a push up plank with the ball beneath your thighs or shins for 1 minute. As you gain strength and coordination you’ll be able to perform the other moves.
In the Fit Woman Basic series we taught you how to perform a basic pushup. To progress this fitness fundamental, simply do it on a stability ball. Get in a pushup position with hands on the ball. Fingers can be pointed forward or down the sides of the ball depending on what’s most comfortable for you. Lower your body towards the ball keeping your belly button drawn in while maintaining a straight line from head to ankle. This exercise is extremely effective at improving both core and shoulder stability. Try to build up to a set of 6 repetitions. Remember to perform all repetitions in a slow controlled manner. To make this move even more challenging, lower your upper body to the ball and hold for a count of 3 before pressing up to starting position.
Melissa’s Stability Ball Series builds on her introductory Basic Exercises Series where she demonstrates Body Squats, Lunges, Planks, Improving Balance, Bridges, and Push Ups. Review last week’s introduction to determine what size ball you should be using. (Most gyms provide stability balls for their clients or you may purchase your own at a sports equipment supply store or online at Perform Better). Review the basic exercises by clicking on each title.