While the plank (when done properly) offers a tremendous amount of benefits, it seems to be one of the most disliked exercises in the book. I am here to offer a similar exercise, that offers similar benefits (as well as some others), and does not require to hold the “pose” for an extended period of time. The Stability Ball Rollout offers a lot of the same benefits as the plank, and gives you a great alternative to the difficult plank.
The Stability Ball Rollout is considered an Anti-Extension Core Exercise. Which means exactly what it says. With this type of exercise you are actively trying to resist extension of the Lumbar Spine. These exercises are great for developing Stability at the core, lumbar spine, and pelvis.
Since the exercise relies on you preventing extension of the lumbar spine, you need to assume a “plank” type position for the duration of the exercise. The stability ball also adds a little bit of lateral stability as well, since the ball can roll in multiple directions.
Assume a position on your knees with your hips fully extended by squeezing your glutes together (called the tall kneeling position). From here place your hands on the ball, keep your arms straight and start to roll forward on top of the ball. It is very important to keep your hips extended during the exercise, not doing so will immediately deactivate your rectus abdominus (6-pack muscles), and will not give you the desired benefit. The difficult part is keeping your hips fully extended during the return portion when you are rolling your body back in.
Notice in the video how my hips remain forward (extended) during the whole exercise. The goal here is to roll your body out as far as possible and be able to return the same exact way. A good indicator that I like to use for the exercise is to lead with your hips on the way out, and lead with your shoulders on the return. That way it takes your mind off your hips on the return, and helps to mentally keep your hips forward.
I decided to make a second video of the exercise with improper form, because I have seen it many times and it needs to be addressed. Notice how my hips are flexing during the start, and immediately when I attempt to return to normal. Doing the exercise this way gives you no benefit because you aren’t really doing anything.
Once this becomes too easy, you can move down to a smaller stability ball, and then to the ab wheel. Yes the ab wheel that was an “As seen on TV” product way back when.
Start off with 3 sets of 6-8, and work up to 3-4 sets of 12.