Most people in the gym desperately want a flat, toned stomach. They spend about 20 minutes jogging and then about 40 minutes crunching themselves into oblivion. But as many of you know, you can't spot treat with exercise. The body is a system of systems, and an exercise like a lunge or a dead lift is a much more effective abdominal workout than a crunch, especially when combined with the valsalva maneuver. That said, at the end of a functional training session, I always like to add in some more isolated abdominal exercises, and there are quite a few fun ones to choose from, especially when you're working with a stability ball.
The Ab Push Back is highly effective and safe exercise that targets your entire abdominal wall, from the upper abs to the obliques and even into the lower abs. To start, come up into a push up position with your shins on a stability ball and your palms directly under your shoulders (see photo). Keeping your spine long (chest out, head in line with your body) simply push yourself back onto the ball as far as you can, maintaining good form. Then pull yourself back to the starting position, palms directly underneath your shoulders.
For those of you with wrist injuries, you can use a smaller stability ball and drop to your forearms. And for those of you who are beginners, put the ball under your knees instead of your feet, and work with a smaller range of motion.
In addition to toning your abs, this exercise works your entire body, and is especially great for toning your arms and shoulders.
Here's to training smarter, not harder.