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posted: 6/13/2011 12:01 AM

Exercises can help strengthen your core

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  • Pike-up


  • Push-up


  • Leg curl

    Leg curl


This month's strength training workout is designed to challenge your body's core and joint stability. By improving your overall stability, you'll increase strength and natural balance, improve posture, decrease your chance for injury and just have a better awareness of your physical capabilities.

For this workout, we'll challenge your stability by using a stability ball, some basic dumbbells and your own body weight. To determine the size of the stability ball you need, simply take a seat on it. Your knees should be at about a 90-degree angle when your feet are flat on the floor.

Stability ball push-up

Assume a basic push-up position with one hand placed on a bench and the other hand on the stability ball. Tighten your core and slowly drop down to a comfortable depth as you inhale. Exhale and push back to your starting position while limiting any movement of the ball. To increase the difficulty, place a stability ball under each hand while performing the push-ups. Complete as many reps as possible with proper form.

Seated dumbbell shoulder press

Take a seated position on the stability ball with a dumbbell in each hand. Begin in a traditional shoulder press position with palms facing forward and elbows about 90 degrees. Exhale as you press upward and slightly inward until arms are extended. Inhale as you lower the dumbbells back to your starting point. To increase the difficulty, just grab one dumbbell and perform the exercise using only one arm at a time. Aim for 15 to 20 reps.

Prone reverse dumbbell fly

Lie face down on the stability ball with the ball positioned under your lower abdominal area and your feet planted firmly on the ground. Abs should be engaged and body in a straight line from shoulder to ankle. With a pair of dumbbells in each hand and a slight elbow bend, swing the dumbbells outward and upward as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Control the dumbbells back to your starting position as you maintain your posture and balance on the ball. Repeat for 15 to 20 reps. To increase the intensity, use one dumbbell and focus on only one arm at a time.

Lying leg curl

Lie on your back with your legs elevated and heels rested on the stability ball. Firmly push your heels down into the ball and raise your hips -- all while bending your knees and pulling the ball toward you. Be sure to keep your weight distributed comfortably between your upper back and your feet. Control back down to your starting point and repeat for 15 to 20 reps. To increase the difficulty, try performing the exercise with only one leg at a time.

Stability ball pike-up

Assume a push-up position with your knees on the floor and your feet hooked over the top of the stability ball. Tighten your core and extend your legs while raising your hips up to a position where your body is in a straight line and parallel to the floor. Control back to your starting point by lightly tapping your knees to the floor. Repeat for 15 to 20 reps. To increase the challenge, as you near the top of the exercise, continue to push your hips past parallel and pull the ball forward and roll up onto your toes, contracting your core and holding at the top.

Perform all five exercises one time through and then repeat for two additional rounds.

Incorporate stability training into your workouts as a functional way to challenge your entire body. Get moving and get results. For a video of this workout, visit

• Joshua Steckler and Mark Trapp are co-owners of Push Fitness, a personal training studio in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning and nutrition. Contact them at