5 abdominal strengthening exercises with a physioball

One of the keys is starting the motion from the abdominal muscles, pull the belly button down and in, and imagine those muscles lifting the head and shoulders.  This is a technique that is used in Pilates, or when trained in physical therapy.  Being aware of where you feel an exercise, not just simply copying a motion is important.  Also remember, that doing ab exercises alone will NOT give you a flat stomach.  You need to watch your food portions and do cardiovascular exercise to lean the body.  No ab exercise, gimmick or trick will do it!  If you are fat, you are fat and your stomach will not shrink down with a few exercises.  Lean yourself first, change the diet, then you’ll see results.  You can still strengthen and stabilize your spine and core with abdominal strengthening exercises as you transform your body.


  •  Use a towel to support your head with some exercises – make a head  hammock
  • To increase difficulty with some exercises, add a free weight or medicine ball in your hands, you will lift more weight against gravity
  • Quality verses quantity with the exercises

You can do them without the ball (feet on a chair) or to make it harder without support under legs – hips less than a 90 degree angle to work lower parts of those abs.

Q: How many should I do? 

A: Do it until you feel burn and add 2-3 more…(usually 5-10 for beginners and 20-35 for advanced – gradually build up)

Here are 5 simple exercises that you can do with a physioball at home or the gym!

  • Reach to the ceiling – arms straight up as if trying to touch the ceiling (towel can be used) lift head and shoulders
  • Reach to the knees – reach toward your knee with one arm lifting one shoulder and head off mat, cross the body (oblique)
  • Crossover reach to the ceiling – arms straight up as if trying to touch the ceiling, reach with one arm cross the body (towel can be used) **completely lower between reps
  • Crossover reach to the knees one arm straight, crossing over the body, bring one shoulder and head off the mat to reach for the knee (or ball if using) (oblique)
  • Ball Crunch – feet on ball, hands behind head, crunch knees towards you, digging heels into the ball while lifting head and shoulders off the mat

About Janelle Baldwin

Janelle Baldwin is a physical therapist assistant (PTA) and lead fitness trainer for Agnesian HealthCare’s on-site fitness center, called the ZONE. She is a certified weight trainer (CWT), a strength and conditioning specialist (STS) and a certified strength and conditioning instructor (CSCI). Her 15 years of professional experience ranges from home care and work hardening/conditioning with the Agnesian HealthCare Sports, Spine & Work Center for many years to her role as a certified personal trainer; teaching fitness classes for which she is trained and certified for and maintaining the on-site fitness facility.

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