Ball Crunches

I bet that gets some interesting search engine hits.

What it was, actually, was that this Friday was one of the occasions when I have burned through my three main workouts (deadlift, upper body, and squat/press) during the previous three days and all the heavy-leverage systems feel like they’re still recuperating. At that point I declare Experiment Day and try exercises I’ve been wanting to investigate, or make stuff up.

It’s always a good day to do ab and torso stuff — that was how I came up with the Wheel Of Pain (a short Olympic bar on the floor loaded with two 45-pound plates, allowing you to do an ab rollout punctuated by a push-up before returning to the start position). This time I decided I had not done Ball Crunches in a while.

You get one of those big Swiss balls, lie back over it and then bring your torso no more than level. I am a twitch about this. The world is full of people doing abdominal crunch-ups — a completely unnatural move, if you think about it — and creating for themselves spasticated abdominal walls and parenthesized spines; like Ethan, who goes around the gym looking like a large prawn or a mobile question-mark, grey-complexioned no doubt from lack of oxygen after cancelling all his diaphragmatic expansion space. Some day his sternum is going to actually collide with his pubic bone. I am aiming for abs that actually counterbalance my spinal muscles in a reasonably balanced vertical position.

You would think that after a quarter century of focused brutality in gyms I would not notice little variations, but it’s been nearly three days and I’m just beginning to lose the feeling that someone kicked me in the midriff. I got down on all fours to scope out a box full of OEM hard drives at the local Micro Center and was stuck down there for so long, trying to figure out the least painful way to get up, that a salesman asked if there was anything wrong in a genuinely worried tone of voice. I ended up buying a terabyte for a little over fifty bucks, a decent bargain.

That is how you know you have found, or refound, a wonderful exercise: it disables you for days. When you have become too attached to the absence of pain you have stopped living.



12 thoughts on “Ball Crunches

  1. Yep, I could still feel my shoulders and upper back muscles on Saturday morning when running, after an intense weights session (well, intense for me) followed by 30 mins of boxing class on Thursday. Talk about disabled afterwards – I had real trouble washing my hair in the shower…

  2. On all fours. That seems a favourite position of yours. Because u were a feline in one of ur previous lives. I know. Manius will unfortunately know too today if i can. My tablet is great for blogging in cafes parks etc but typing is an incubo or nightmare if u prefer

    • It feels so good when you stop.

      And the endorphins, my friend, endorphins. The sense of conquest, the knowledge that you changed your body and extended your limits. The next time I get on that ball, it won’t hurt like this.

      I may not be able to get the dog next door to shut up but I can at least make my body do what I want it to.

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