Swiss Ball Crunches- More Effective Abdominal Exercise Than Ab Roller On The Floor?

Question: I’ve heard the best abdominal exercise is the Swiss Ball crunch. Is it better than doing crunches with an ab roller or on the floor? I really want to have visible abs.

Eugene says: In short, yes. But let’s talk about a few things first before you run out and start bouncing away on one of those physical-therapy-device-turned-gym-toys.

Abdominal Exercise Primer

First, understand that doing a lot of ab work in order to develop a shredded six pack is about as effective as using a Bic lighter to cook your salmon steak. To properly develop visible abdominal muscles, two things are necessary:

1) Body fat reduction over the abdominal area.  This is primarily accomplished through the proper applications of dietary principles. BTW, if you’re serious about losing that fat from your abdominal area, our Man on a Mission is your ace in the hole, if I do say so myself.

2) Some exercise to develop abdominal strength.

swiss ball crunches

Swiss ball crunch Photo Credit © Richard Giles

Diet is More Important Than Swiss Ball Crunches For Visible Abs

Diet is so much more important in this process that it’s almost ridiculous to spend time doing ab work when you’ve got a nice, thick layer of protective adiposity blanketing your midsection (you’d be much better off spending that time doing exercises that rev up your metabolism, like multi-joint movements such as squats, or performing high intensity intervals).

In fact, it’s possible to develop a six pack without a single rep of direct ab work if you get your body fat low enough and you strength train (there is significant recruitment of the ab muscles on big, multi-joint movements like pulldowns, chinups, squats, deadlifts, etc., so they get a lot of indirect work when you perform these exercises).

As Mike pointed out in a previous Q and A, spot reduction of the fat overlying your ab muscles by selectively doing exercises for just that area is not possible. Nor is exercising your butt off without making concomitant changes in diet useful for developing killer abs.

You’ve Got To Put The Whole Shebang Together…

Now, let me get off my soapbox…

Swiss ball crunches more deeply stimulate the ab muscles because you work them through a greater range of motion and because the ab muscles encounter greater resistance (from your body weight) when you’re lying on a Swiss ball.

Since greater resistance = more results (remember your Weight Training 101?), the greater stimulus from the Swiss ball crunches will give you more bang for your training buck than its floor-based counterparts (ab rollers included).

So grab yourself a ball and crunch away.  But do yourself a favor – stay away from those high calorie foods and drink your water, ok?

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I HAVE to Exercise Versus I WANT to Exercise

These are two completely different dynamics in your head. One gives resistance and the other flows. You can even feel it in your body as you say it.

Successful people eliminate resistance anywhere they can.

People who have gone from out of shape to great shape- and have retained it over a long stretch of time have turned their have to into a want to. 

You can fight yourself into exercising every day, or you can flow into exercise daily. That’s the true art.


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On Getting Started With Diet and Exercise

On Getting Started

After years of complacency, you’ve gotten yourself fired up to take action – she cheated on you, your pants don’t fit, and you’re getting winded lugging that 20 pound spare tire up a flight of stairs at the Thai massage joint. You just hit that mental pain threshold like a Mack truck, and shit has got to change right NOW.

You hear the voice of your conscious and unconscious discussing the next move.

I want to lose this fat and gain some muscle. The answer is diet and exercise, right? Need to burn off calories. I’m going to hit the treadmill 5 days a week for 45 minutes and the other two days I’ll do High Intensity Interval cardio to really ramp up my metabolism. I gotta do crunches too, women love abs. And arms. 10 sets of curls, superset them with triceps extensions.  And I gotta diet and stop eating crap. Low carbs baby. Paleo? Nah, Atkins. Super low carb, it’s hard core and you lose weight so much faster.


Keep your diet and exercise simple and focused. Once you build that foundation, you can add the fancy stuff.

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Boosting Your Resources for When Life Steps In

To be successful in anything in life, you need the energy, strength, flexibility, focus and hunger to make things happen.  And, just when things are moving along nicely, some facet of life will inevitably stress-test you. Here are some key resources to build now, so you can respond to stress from a strong and balanced stance, and minimize setbacks and downtime.


strengthen your muscle, tendons and ligaments


master your brain

  • Solid psychology (get a deep understanding of your rules, values and beliefs).
  • Managing your emotions.
  • Resilience and rigorous accountability.


  • Strengthen the bond with family and close friends.
  • Get a deeper understanding of their rules, values and beliefs.
  • Fill yourself with gratitude and employ empathy.


  • Start saving now, and take advantage of compounding interest.
  • Learn to balance your investments properly for short and long term growth and to minimize loss.
  • Get curious about different forms of income, find a mentor, and build networks of business relationships.

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Don’t Set Bullshit Goals

The concept of having a goal(s) is crucial. How else would you be able to set a plan to get what you want? 

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