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Ball Crunch and Progressions

Ball crunches are an effective exercise to work the abdominal muscles. They are a core exercise that involve an individual lying on the ground with their feet flat on the floor and their lower back pressed into a stability ball. From this position, the individual must lift their torso upwards and slightly forwards towards the knees. To avoid hyperextension of the spine, the movement should be limited to a slight crunch.Progressions for ball crunches include using a lighter ball, hanging

Transcript

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This is Brent from the Brookbush Institute coming at you with
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common exercise I don't actually advocate that often. That's the crunch!
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However, when you progress it to a ball crunch, all of a sudden we have this
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exercise that becomes incredibly versatile, as well as doing something
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very important, which is marry our posterior and anterior oblique
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subsystems and function. I'm going to have my friend, Mike, come out. Mike's
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going to show these exercises. I'm going to torture him for about the next five
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minutes, but I think he's ready for it! Now, I know a ball crunch is a
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progression from a floor crunch, but I think this is a progression that you
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can get into fairly quickly. If you've been doing ball bridges, this should not
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be that hard of a progression. Mike is going to go ahead and lay back on the
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ball, but unlike a ball crunch where I had put the ball right between his
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shoulder blades, this time I want it more on his low back. He's going to have his
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upper glutes just touching the ball, and it's actually the fact that he can get
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his glutes up, all of a sudden makes this version of a crunch
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not so bad. If he has his glutes engaged, I know his iliacus and psoas are
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reciprocally inhibited, which means now he has to use that anterior oblique
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subsystem, and he can't cheat with hip flexor dominance. So, all of a sudden, just
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having somebody keeping glute lock-out, and do a simple crunch,
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and things are not so easy. I think if you really focus, think,
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dollar bill between your cheeks, draw in, and come up, a lot of you guys are going
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to be shaking and this, functionally, doesn't become such a bad
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exercise. Mike here is a pitcher, think about what the throwing motion
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requires. A push off from the leg, with rotation, and flexion from the trunk. So
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our first progression could be flexion, with a little bit of rotation, while
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keeping this glue lock-out. So we're teaching
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his posterior and anterior oblique subsystem to come together a bit here.
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Now, from those progressions, if he can maintain his glute lock-out for a full
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set, I can start progressing in weight, I can start progressing in complexity or I
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can start progressing in a way that I'm going to show you guys, where we can work
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on some dynamic flexibility of the upper body. We're also going to show you
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guys some reactive drills that are a lot of fun. Now, first things first, let's
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talk about weight. There's no limit to how big of a medicine ball you can grab.
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You could even use a dumbbell, providing the glutes stay tight. One of the
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mistakes I see a lot of people making in core exercise in general, is our rep
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range. It's 12 to 20 reps for strength to endurance. If you're doing more than 20
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reps, it's cardio, and the crunch is not a great selection for cardiovascular
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exercise. So, let's keep going. If this wasn't heavy enough for him, I'd just go
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get a bigger ball, or I could continue to progress the exercise in a different way.
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One thing I don't see enough of is people saying "hey, let's let's start putting some different
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forces on your core and get you working against a rotational force, or against a
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longer lever arm". So first, we could start back here, this is also working on some
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dynamic flexibility of his lats, and then he can come up, and that's a lot harder.
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Now, why not in a symmetrical force? Let's go ahead and put one hand down, and now
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he has something trying to rotate him this way, and then if I want to make it
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really tough, we were trying this before, I'll have them scoot this way
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towards the wall a little bit,
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and he can go one hand, but out into a P and F carry way. Now he has all of that
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load try to flip him right off the ball, and of course he can come up back into
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his crunch, or maybe even his crunch with rotation. So I could have him come out
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there, and then as long as he keeps his glutes locked out, have him reach for my
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hand here. Good. I think you can see, just progressing in these different ways
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with weight, if he got all of these down, I can put them all together as a
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dynamic flexibility warm up. This could be the core exercise in that integrated
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warm up before he does any of his activity. He could start back, and then he
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could just follow a clock with his arm. Now he's got 12 o'clock, and then
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we're going to go back this way, good, and then back this way. Now
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we have all of the different fibers of the pectoralis. We have some pec minor in
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there. All of these different things are getting
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stretched out, working on that dynamic control at a tempo a little closer to
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the sport, which of course, in Mike's case, is baseball. I'm going to go ahead
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and let you sit up for a second, take a rest from here. A lot of the things I
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like to do involve power, or a little bit of that reactivity. A crunch and catch is
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a very important exercise if you guys are going to have anybody do that ground
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smash power exercise. It's probably important to at least get their core
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strong enough, make sure we're getting good TVA activation, make sure they can
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control a crunch and catch first, and then Mike and I are going to play a
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little game to work on his reactivity. Just another great warm-up, pre-sport, for
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core activity, where I'll show you how to make crunch and catch a lot
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harder. Let's start two arms first and show them
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tha, just a standard crunch and catch. This is the exercise, and you can, I
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don't have enough room on this video, but you can stand pretty far back and
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launch a ball. I would launch it over his head, this way, so that if he misses it
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doesn't hit him in the face. You guys can imagine that if I took another
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10 feet back, and chest passed it as hard as I could, right back behind his head,
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and he had to catch it and throw it back, it's going to be great preparation for
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a maximum power exercise like that ground smash. Now, if I'm just doing this
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reactive stabilization exercise as a warm-up, we can start thinking about
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going to one hand. This is a little bit of coordination, a little bit of
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reactivity. I know my personal trainers out there don't have all
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athletes as clients, so to make somebody catch with their non-dominant hand can be
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quite a fun routine. With Mike, since he is a very high-level
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athlete, I don't have to be nice. So if I want to work on his reactivity, his
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ability to catch, I can say 'okay, I'm not going to tell them which hand, and I'm
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just going to throw it anywhere within his reach to make sure,
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maybe even try to fool him a little bit, just to get him
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to react to that ball'. You can imagine after 3 sets of 20, after he's done
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all of his other activation exercises, and then follows this up with some sub
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system integration, he'll be warm, he'll be ready to go. I hope you enjoyed this video,
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I hope you see some new things to do with the crunch. I'll talk to you