What are Ball Crunches?

Michael Haltman

Abdominal crunches, or ab crunches, are a classic type of exercise used to strengthen and tone the abdominal muscles. For the person who wants to achieve six-pack abs, ab crunches usually play a key role in his or her workout. While many muscles in the region will be worked, it is the rectus abdominis which runs down either side of the abdomen that will receive the most attention. There are various types of ab crunches that a person can do, including ball, reverse, dragonfly, and twisting crunches.

Ball crunches may play a key role in forming six-pack abs.
Ball crunches may play a key role in forming six-pack abs.

Ball crunches, which utilize a large exercise ball, are said to provide results than other traditional abdominal exercises. This is because the angle of the ball allows for the body to lean farther back than is the case with traditional ab crunches. The greater extension can help stretch the muscles even further. Additionally, the bounce and movement of the ball can force the abs to stay contracted in order to maintain balance.

Crunches target the rectus abdominis and other abdominal muscles.
Crunches target the rectus abdominis and other abdominal muscles.

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The only piece of equipment required for ball crunches is the ab ball. It usually is inexpensive and can be purchased online or at a sporting goods store. As with any exercise, the real key to getting optimal results is proper technique. Not only will this contribute to the most effective workout, but it will help prevent injury to the neck and back.

Overall, the technique for ball crunches is fairly straight forward. The exercise begins by placing the ball on the floor a distance from any wall or piece of furniture. A person will then lay with their back on the ball, feet flat on the floor, far enough away to be able to maintain good balance. The person will then lean back with the middle of the back directly on the ball. Once done, the fingers go on the forehead and not behind the neck to avoid jerking up.

The next step is to tighten the abdominal muscles and slowly begin to curl up. It starts with the head, then shoulders, and finally the middle. To complete the crunch, the upper body curls up a little bit more which gives the final crunch of the abs. The process is then repeated.

This three-step sequence, done with proper technique and speed, is what gives ball crunches the advantage over the more traditional ab crunch. There should be a stretching feeling in the abdominal muscles while a person is performing a correct ball crunch. Once this basic ball crunch technique is mastered, other movements can be added to the program for additional benefit.

There are many different types of crunches that target different areas of the body.
There are many different types of crunches that target different areas of the body.

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Discussion Comments


I recommend that all of my clients incorporate a swiss ball crunch into their workouts. It is a low impact move that does not require any awkward positioning so it is relatively accessible even for people in poor shape. Plus it works. I have seen clients get amazing results from just this one move.


I did crunches on the floor for years and kind of felt like I had plateaued. I was not seeing any gains and my workout had become boring. Then someone suggested that I do medicine ball crunches on an exercise ball. the combination of the weighted medicine ball and the unstable exercise ball absolutely blast your midsection.

I started to see gains immediately. I was so inspired that I committed myself to a whole new workout and threw myself in to it more passionately than I ever had before. I lost ten pounds and am in the best shape of my life.


I worked with a personal trainer to try and improve my core strength for football. We did all kinds of exercises, but many of them incorporated an exercise ball. Swiss ball crunches are one of the best ways to develop deep core strength because the dynamic motion of the ball forces your core to stay tight and to respond to a variety of pressures.

After a summer of training together my stomach was stronger than ever and I could feel the effects throughout my entire body. I ran faster, could jump higher and could lift more. I ended up having my best season that year.

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