I’ve mentioned before that I participated on the springboard diving team in college and this move comes by way of that experience. Diving is an activity that derives most of its grace and acrobatic movement from the core region so we spent a lot of time doing all sorts of ab exercises. Some of those exercises I truly hated with the burning, fiery, fury of a thousand suns (*cough* flutter kicks *cough*). Others were tolerable but were boring. Some, though, some were just… weird. Difficult and painful if you got it wrong and I almost always seemed to get them wrong (hollow rockers…).
I picked up a stability ball to add to my workout and started learning various moves with it that would round out my routine. The bad part about those balls is that the number one thing everyone tries to tell you to do with them is crunches. Seriously, the number of people that said, “Hey, now you can do crunches right!” Um, no. They’re not called crunch balls, I promise that’s not the only thing you can do with them. I had to mess around for a bit to determine what the best move was for me utilizing that ball and settled on Pike Ups.
You want to choose a ball that is large enough that you get as close to a horizontal plank as possible when your hands are planted on the ground. The start position of the ball will vary depending on your height and strength. The main thing you have to do is keep your legs straight.
Pulling up from your belly button, the ball will roll along your legs as you raise your but up into the air, bringing you into Pike position (eons ago it was called a jack-knife in the diving world).
Now: Stop while you still have control!! You want to make sure that you are making these moves slowly and pull from your core. It is a great move for shoulder flexibility and does have a bit of shoulder strength but if you pull too far and lose control, you will go past the hand stand position and tumble over forward onto your head. Not sure about you, I don’t like the idea of doing that. Also, if you move too fast and don’t pay attention, you could end up with a ball in your nose (heh, giggity!). Because it is a large ball this is more possible for those of us of Hobbit size.
Once I brought this little gem back into my regular rotation I started feeling my stomach pull tight again. Yes, despite my undying love of the tasty world of food, I did once have a flat stomach. Now the only time I don’t see it is when ladytime rolls in, kicks my butt, and make my body resemble that of the StayPuft Marshmallow Man. Those are great days. Like I said though, it really is a great workout as long as you keep it slow and steady!