The Forgotten Muscles

Instruction
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Instruction

There are more than 600 muscles in the human body. Use exercise-ball workouts to build the stabilizing muscles, and you'll be rock-solid on the hill.(SKI Magazine by Kellee Katagi)
No lead actor can do without a supporting cast. In the same way, any major muscle is only as strong as its stabilizing muscles, especially on a shifty surface such as snow. Most strength workouts are done on a firm surface, giving the stabilizing muscles a break. But move your workout onto an exercise ball and, to keep you balanced, those smaller muscles are forced to work. In skiers' terms, that means you won't be fazed by powder, crud or anything else Mother Nature throws at you. Try doing your regular lifts (for example, chest press, biceps curls, push-ups-even squats as you improve) on a ball. Then mix in the following exercises, and soon you'll be as unmovable as the mountain itself.

Ball squats are as easy as green runs for sixth-ranked U.S. snowboarder Matt Drinker, who skied last season for the first time in 15 years. "I loved it," he says. "These squats are a perfect ski exercise." Don't try this advanced move without previous exercise ball training. If you do try it, use a wall for support.



Hamstring Extension
Lie faceup, and place your heels on the ball. Your legs and back should be straight. Extend your arms out from your sides for balance (1A). Keep your abs and glutes tight throughout the exercise. Pull your heels toward you as far as you can, bending your knees and rolling the ball toward you as you do so (1B). Hold for one second; then roll the ball back to the starting position. Do three sets of 12 reps.
What it works hamstrings, trunk muscles
As you improve Bring your arms closer to your sides; it forces the stabilizing muscles to work harder.



Medicine Ball Crunch
Lie faceup, with the ball supporting your hips and lower- and mid-back (your hips should be toward the front of the ball). Lift a medicine ball above your head with both hands (2A). Keep your arms in line with your ears and a slight bend in your elbows throughout the exercise. Slowly lift your head, neck and shoulders as far as you can, keeping your back straight (2B). Pause, then slowly lower to the starting position. Do three sets of 12 reps.
What it works upper abs
As you improve Use a heavier medicine ball.



Prayer
Kneel facing the ball. Interlace your fingers and place your forearms on top of the ball, leaning forward slightly (3A). Keeping your abs tight and back straight, slowly roll the ball forward by extending your forearms (3B). Pause for three seconds; then roll back to the starting position. Do three sets of 12 reps.
What it works abs, obliques, lats
As you improve Separate your hands; this requires more strength and stability. Or, instead of kneeling, try it with two feet on the floor, shoulder-width apart, and legs straight.



Scissors Lift
Lie on your back, and squeeze the ball between your lower legs. Press your lower back into the floor throughout the exercise. Slowly raise your legs to a 45-degree angle with the floor (4A). Pause, then lower the ball as far as you can without resting it on the floor. Do three sets of 12 reps.
What it works lower abs, adductors
As you improve Work the obliques with the Twister. Do one scissors lift, with your hands straight out from your sides. When your legs are raised, rotate your hips to the right, lowering the ball as far as you can (4B). Return to the center, then rotate to the left. Continue for 12 reps on each side. This also works your shoulders.



Jackknife
Assume a push-up position, with your shins and knees propped up on the exercise ball (5A). Slowly roll the ball toward you, bending your knees and bringing them toward your chest (5B). Hold for one second, and then extend legs back to starting position. Do three sets of 12 reps.
What it works abs, hip flexors, arms
As you improve Staart with your feet on the ball, and keep your back straight throughout the exercise. As you roll the ball forward, your legs will stay straight until you are in a pike position (5C). Then pull your knees toward your chest.



Reverse Back Extension
Place the ball under your stomach; then place your hands on the floor in front of you and balance. Slowly lift your legs until your body is in a straight line from your head to your ankles (6). Hold for one second; then slowly lower to the starting position. Do three sets of 12 reps.
What it works core, especially lower back