To Your Health
August, 2010 (Vol. 04, Issue 08)
1. Elevated Side Plank: Same setup as you use for the side plank, but stack your feet on a bench. Don't allow your hips to sag.
2. Stability Ball Rollouts: This works the anterior core.
You will definitely feel it in your abs. This can be tougher than it looks, so start out with the basic progressions. If your back is hurting during this exercise, you need to take a step back. Start with the stability ball very close to you and your hands up top. Keeping a straight line from knees to shoulders, start to roll the ball out. Roll out into a plank position with your elbows on the ball, maintaining the straight line from knees to shoulders. To come back, push off with your elbows and hands, being careful not to lead with your butt. End in the starting position.
3. Wood Chop: Set up sideways to a stack of weights (or use an exercise band) with your feet shoulder-width apart and the band handle on the highest cable pulley. Rotate on the ball of your foot as you pull the band down and across your body until the handle is just outside your far knee. Do all your reps, then switch sides and repeat.
4. Trunk "Lifts": Securely attach one end of a band to a stationary object near the floor. Begin with the hips and knees slightly bent. Stand to the side of the attachment and grasp the handle with both hands, with your trunk slightly rotated toward the band. Lift the band over your opposite shoulder with both hands, turning your trunk away from the attachment. Slowly return to the starting position.
5. Toe Touch: Use a medicine ball, lie on your back, and raise your legs so they're straight and perpendicular to the floor. Hold the ball above the top of your head with your arms straight. Without moving your legs or bending your elbows, simultaneously lift your arms and torso until the ball touches your toes. Lower yourself back to the starting position. That's one repetition.
6. Crunch With Medicine Ball: Lie on your back with your legs straight. Use both hands to hold a medicine ball above your head and barely off the floor. Simultaneously raise your torso and bend your right knee toward your chest as you bring the ball over your knee and toward your foot. Reverse the movement and repeat, this time bending your left knee. That's one repetition.
Make sure to supplement your abdominal routine with an exercise program that includes movements like squats, cleaning and pressing, bench pressing, dead-lifting and so forth, and you'll work your trunk muscles even more. And of course, talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program if you have an existing health condition that limits movement, or if you haven't really exercised before (or if it's been a long time). You want to make sure you're doing these exercises correctly, so ask your doctor to explain the precise movement if you're not absolutely sure. Then get started on your perfect abs one repetition at a time! Enjoy the new look you will achieve after 8-10 weeks by being consistent with the above routines.
Ab Anatomy 101
The abs consist of the smaller transversus abdominis muscle, a flat, triangular muscle layered below the internal oblique muscles. It is the stability muscle and has a tremendous effect on body posture. The internal obliques are a pair of muscles residing on each side of the torso; they are involved in rotation. The external obliques are also located on either side of the torso, on top of the internal obliques. Like the internal obliques, the external obliques are involved in, among other things, rotation and lateral bending of the spine. The rectus abdominus muscles, long, lean muscles that run vertically up the center of the abdomen, are the most superficial of the abdominal muscles and are responsible for the six-pack ab look in very lean and fit people. Keep in mind that if you do too many repetitions of just abdominal exercises, you will probably increase the muscle bulk around your waist and actually increase your girth.
Jeffrey Tucker, DC, is a rehabilitation specialist who integrates chiropractic, exercise and nutrition into his practice in West Los Angeles. He is also a speaker for Performance Health/Thera-Band (www.thera-band.com).