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The ball pike

Adam Bolonsky

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This one's both not as easy and not as difficult as it looks.

Be careful not to down-arch your back (i.e., allow your belly to sag toward the floor) during the horizontal set up phase.

Note how in the horizontal set up Mike flattens his feet on the ball, to aid his balance.

The set-up and lift work your hams, glutes, lats, abs. If your abs are weak you will have difficutly supporting yourself while horizontal. Suck in your gut, concentrating on the muscles that lie over the front horns of your pelvis to either side of and just above the groin. You'll find extra strength there.

I've done this drill many, many times. The amount of microadjusting with my abs and obliques it takes to hold my body horizontal during the set up is extraordinary, then fun.

Do the lift (to the vertial pike) carefully, slowly, so you don't fall sideways. Meanwhile the workout to your obliques (muscles at the hips) and your abs is intense but not killing.

Believe it or not, the vertical pike is pretty easy to maintain once you get your rear end up in the air: mostly a matter of balancing with your hamstrings and hip abductors. But wow, lowering yourself back to horizontal, now that's work!

This, the ball pike, also works the delts (shoulders) and triceps.

The exercise ball is as old as the hills even if in the U.S. it's new and trendy.

Exercise balls with their book of drills are cheap: $20 at places like Barnes and Noble.

As before, poses courtesy Mike Harb (mharb@rcn.com), who let me take the photos at one of the gyms he trains at locally.

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