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.
- 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.)
- Contract your stomach muscles and pull your belly button in toward your spine while keeping your head, neck and spine aligned.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- For beginners, perform 6-8 repetitions for 1-2 sets.
- 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.
- 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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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.