Wodraska: Get on the ball to build strength
Fitness • Use stability ball to work core and back muscles together.

By Lya Wodraska

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: February 9, 2012 05:22PM
Updated: May 24, 2012 11:33PM
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Lya Wodraska

Let’s talk about the walk-out — a simple but effective exercise that builds upper-body strength and encourages good posture.

The only equipment you need is a stability ball.

With this one piece of equipment, you can work abdominal muscles such as the rectus abdominus (your “six pack” muscle), the transverse abdominus (the main stabilizer of the core muscles) and the obliques (the love-handle abs). You’ll also work several back muscles, including the erector spinae, the rhomboids and deltoids, as well as arm muscles.

Working these muscles together in one exercise has many benefits. It will help your posture. By loading one side of the spine and then the other, it will encourage the back muscles to activate.

This also is a functional exercise for the core as you must stabilize and control your body weight. All of the core muscles work together with the back muscles. That’s something you don’t always get when doing isolated abdominal exercises such as crunches on the floor.

Here’s how you do it:

1. Start with your stomach draped over a stability ball and with hands and feet in a line so that you form a level platform with your body.

2. Slowly walk your hands out in front of you, keeping your abdominals engaged so your back doesn’t sway and your body doesn’t lose the “plank” form.

3. Go only as far as you can before losing form. If you can make it all the way with just your toes on the ball, great!

4. When you reach your end point, slowly walk back to the starting point. This is usually where people cheat. They rush back, dragging their hands on the floor.

One of the best benefits of this exercise is working all the stabilizer muscles down the spine. So you want to make sure you go slowly and deliberately, picking up each hand and placing it back down as you perform the walkout. Make those back muscles work!

Once you have become accomplished with the basic move, make it more difficult by performing several pushups when you reach the end point. Or perform several repetitions of the prone jackknife exercise in which you pull the ball underneath you, keeping the hips as level as possible.

As with any exercise, perform the exercise with good form. Stop if you feel your body start to sway or if the arm muscles get tired.

Work your way up to four or five sets of 3-to-5 complete walkouts (forward and back).

Remember to check out the Facebook page for an example of the exercise!

Lya Wodraska is a certified CHEK Practitioner and Holistic Lifestyle Coach. E-mail her at Lwodraska@sltrib.com

Facebook.com/lyatribuneTwitter: @LyaWodraska