Although I do believe that the kind of look people want for their abdominals begins with what they eat and how they exercise, I do also believe that like any other muscle group, the abdominals need to be targeted at least one time a week.

The overall function of the abdominals is to stabilize the spine.  So, let's start with a core stabilizing exercise called the Modified Plank.

*Lie on your stomach and raise yourself up so you are on your forearms and knees.  You shoulders should be directly over your elbows. Pressing through the forearms, contract the abdominal muscles up into the ribcage. Breathe.

*Gaze at your thumbs as you hold this position for 30 seconds.

***Slowly lower back to your stomach and repeat the process two additional times for 30 seconds. Work your way up to holding the Modified Plank 3 times for 1 minute each, then onto 3 times for 1.5 minutes and continue adding 30 second increments until you can hold the plank 1 time for 5 minutes***

Congratulations!!! You have found abdominal stability.  Let’s add some additional abdominal strength and stability with the Basic Crunch.

*Lie on your back with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart.

*Maintaining the natural curvature of the lower back, pull the abdominals in, toward the navel, and up into the rib cage.

*Bring the fingers up to the temples and contract the abdominals just enough to lift the shoulder blades off of the floor.  This is a small movement.  Remember that you do not bring the chin all the way up to the knees to work the abdominals, unless you are trying to work the hip flexors as well.  Keep this constant contraction throughout each repetition.  If you begin to feel pressure in the lower back, relax the body and start from the top.

*Gaze in front of you.  Do not press the head up while crunching.  Allow the head to stay stabile with the chin slightly tucked and no pressure on the neck.  Remember that the contraction of the abdominal bringing the shoulders off of the floor is all the movement needed to strengthen the abdominals while performing the Basic Crunch.

***For additional stability, squeeze a soft medicine ball between your knees, contracting the inner thighs while performing the Basic Crunch***

The Rectus Abdominis is one muscle, but there are certain exercises that target areas of that specific muscle a little better than others.  The Reverse Crunch is one of those exercises that although is strengthens the entire muscle, by just curling the knees into the upper body and lifting those hips, we can target the lower region of this complex muscle.  The Reverse Crunch should be done before your other Abdominal exercises or at the beginning of your strength training workout.

*Begin by lying on your back with your knees raised just above your hips and squeezing a medicine ball.  Place the hands at the temples as in the Basic Crunch, or place the arms flat on the floor with the palms up.

*Contract you abdominals into the navel and up into the rib cage, as you lift the hips off of the floor and into the upper body.  Relax the neck and do not rock with each repetition.  This should be an up and in movement.

***For additional abdominal strength, tap the toes onto the floor after each curl up instead of leaving the knees above the hips***

Having strong abdominals requires working the Obliques with some diagonal movements such as the Crunch and Twist.  Although this exercise will not get rid of those “Love Handles,” strengthening the rotators will help with everyday functional strength involving bending to the side to pick up an item that you have mistakenly dropped.

*Lying on your back, place both feet flat on the floor about shoulder width apart.  Place your hands underneath the small of your back until the fingertips are touching.  Although you will want to contract the abdominals into the hands, make sure to leave the natural curvature of your back open, especially while working the Obliques.

*As you exhale, crunch straight up and rotate the right shoulder towards the left knee leaving the left foot flat on the floor.  For a more advanced movement, raise the left knee toward the right shoulder as you rotate.  Be sure to keep your chin up as if holding an orange, to prevent stress to the neck.

*Move back into a crunch position then relax the head, neck and arms on the floor.

*Repeat to other side.

7/28/2015 09:08:12 pm

Doing everyday for 150 times!


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