Strengthen Your Core With the Forward Ball Roll

The forward ball roll is an exercise that activates the inner-unit or “core” musculature (the core muscles that stabilize the spine, rib cage and pelvis), especially your transverse abdominis.

Not only will this exercise help you achieve strength, stability and flexibility in your stomach and back muscles, but it will also target your shoulders and triceps muscles.

Instructions

The forward ball roll
Beginning & end position of forward ball roll | paulcheksblog.com
  1. Kneel in front of a Swiss ball (also known as a physio ball or stability ball) with your forearms bent and resting on the curve of the ball. You will want your elbows bent and your forearms resting on the ball so that your shoulders are at about a 90 degree angle to your trunk. The angle of your hips and shoulders should be the same. (A helpful visual is that an imaginary box should be able to fit in the space between the back of your arms and your thighs.)
  2. Contract your stomach muscles and pull your belly button in toward your spine while keeping your head, neck and spine aligned.
  3. Slowly roll your body forward while keeping your arms on the ball. Move your legs and arms equally, so that the angles at the shoulders and hips stay the same. As you roll forward, focus on your abdominals and continue to keep your belly button pulled in towards your spine. Let your core control the exercise.
  4. Stop at the point just before you lose form. If you feel as if your back has arched and your belly has dropped toward the floor, then you have lost form. Keep spine and back straight during entire exercise.
  5. Hold for 2-3 seconds at this position (for a greater challenge, hold this position for a longer amount of time) and then return to the starting position (at this point, you should still keep your stomach pulled in). Tempo should be slow and controlled. Exhale as you roll out, inhale as you roll back to the start position.
  6. For beginners, perform 6-8 repetitions for 1-2 sets.
  7. For advanced levels, perform 10-20 repetitions for 2-3 sets.

Forward ball roll video

In the above video, Paul Chek gives an in-depth demonstration of the forward ball roll. In his version, he rolls out and holds the position. This variation is slightly different from what is listed in the above directions. However, both versions are useful and extremely effective.



Notes

  • Before beginning any exercise program, get medical clearance from your doctor or health professional.
  • For added comfort, you can kneel on a mat, towel or Airex pad.
  • Do not perform this if you have a back condition.
  • If you do not feel your abdominal muscles working, check form and restart. Remember, you want your stomach muscles to be engaged during the entire exercise.
  • To increase difficulty, extend your body more, creating more distance between the start and finish positions, or hold the end position for a longer period of time.

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Author Details
Founder and CEO of BambooCore
Jennifer is a certified NASM Personal Trainer, MovNat Trainer, and a C.H.E.K Holistic Lifestyle/Nutrition Coach. As the Founder and CEO of BambooCore Fitness, she delivers sustainable lifestyle, nutrition and movement strategies to people looking to improve their health and performance.

When she is not slaying fat and building muscle, Jennifer can be found trekking barefoot, traveling, cooking and refining her photography skills. She also enjoys reading and writing about food culture, history and the science of human movement.
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Founder and CEO of BambooCore
Jennifer is a certified NASM Personal Trainer, MovNat Trainer, and a C.H.E.K Holistic Lifestyle/Nutrition Coach. As the Founder and CEO of BambooCore Fitness, she delivers sustainable lifestyle, nutrition and movement strategies to people looking to improve their health and performance.

When she is not slaying fat and building muscle, Jennifer can be found trekking barefoot, traveling, cooking and refining her photography skills. She also enjoys reading and writing about food culture, history and the science of human movement.

Comments

  1. Ted

    Step 1 says to have your forearms bent, but forearms are not bendable and have no joints in them. Plus the pictures here don’t show the forearms bending.
    How does one bend their forearm?

    1. Hi Ted, thank you for your question. I apologize if my wording was confusing. I meant that you should have your elbows bent at about 90 degrees…You will want your elbows bent and your forearms resting on the ball so that your shoulders are at about a 90 degree angle to the trunk. Does that make sense? Thanks for pointing this out – I will update my directions so that they are more clear. 🙂

  2. Kristina Powell

    What exercises do you recommend for a woman who has had a c-section? Would planks be ok? (I’ve heard that a female who has had this procedure should never be in plank position.)
    I know my TVA is not strong, but I’m not sure how to strengthen it.
    Also, when you pull your bellybutton to your spine, is that sucking in your stomach, or is it more like a pelvic tilt?

  3. Sean

    What’s the chance that you could insert a video of this exercise in your blog as well. I think I understand it, but I’m not sure about “keeping the angles of the shoulders and hips the same.”

    1. Hi Sean, thanks for your suggestion. I am currently working on creating several exercise videos and I will be sure to include this one in the mix. Stay tuned!

      1. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to upload a video yet… but please check out this video, created by Paul Chek… it’s a bit long but he does a great job explaining the exercise. In this video, he shows the forward ball roll as a roll and hold technique, which is slightly different than what I explain in the my article. Both versions are effective. I will add Chek’s video to my post as well. Thanks for the feedback!

        https://youtu.be/qHScfODVRSQ

  4. Kev

    Is this effectively the same as the ab-wheel roll out? Does it work out the transverse abs as well

    1. Hi Kev,

      Yes, wheel roll outs are similar to ball rollouts and both work the transverse. Wheel rollouts are more difficult than ball ball rollouts and can be a dangerous exercise for some people.

      If you have a serious shoulder or abdominal injury, can’t hold a regular plank for more than a few seconds, or can only do a few push-ups without your back sagging, then doing well rollouts isn’t advised.

      This is because your core is most likely weak and your back will extend during an ab wheel rollout. This stresses your spine, and can cause some degree of lower-back pain or injury.

      I don’t recommend attempting wheel rollouts until one can properly and cleanly perform a ball rollout.

      I hope this helps!

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