Any training has to be justified by everyday activities. Let me ask you a question – how often do you use your beloved crunches, planks or hanging leg raises in real life? That’s a hard one, right? Let’s think about it together.
Crunches require concentrated work of your abs’ muscles. You use it when you get up from lying position. Plank is an example of static abs work and you are not using this type of work anywhere else. Your stability control is engaging with every move and is not controlled by you at all. Hanging leg raises help to jump between branches. Confess, are you still climbing trees?
Ok, let’s stick to the point. What are the main reasons we all have abs in the first place?
- Keep our bodies staring in a vertical position. Dah! If you thought it was a spine’s job, you didn’t see it coming.
- Ensure movement. We are able to keep the body straight when moving with the help of our core muscles (abs, glutes, back muscles).
- Breathing process.
Many people often forget about this last but not the least role of our abs. It is clear as day that you have to work with your breath when you perform abs training. Now let’s see when was the last time your personal trainer recommended to engage your core with your breath? May be never? ⠀
You would say: “I just want a six-pack, that’s all”. All right. But what are you going to do with your hanging sides or your stomach sticking out after every meal? Crunch the hell out of them? What about lower back pain?
Our abs is working hard all day every day. Additional focus on this area can be harmful to our body and nervous system. I am not saying, you have to ditch your dreams about a nice body and settle with your muffin top. Check out these four exercises that will enhance your workout and help strengthen your body in a healthy and gentle way. ⠀
Let’s start with one of those breathing exercises. Don’t underestimate the power of it!
- Lie down with your back on the floor. Bend your legs with your toes facing forward on the ground. Sink your back and sacrum into your mat. Your arms are in the scarecrow position, palms facing up.
- Focus on your belly. With the inhale through the nose fill up your ribs, so they expand and allow the air to fill in your entire belly like a balloon. With the exhale through the month let your belly fall. Ribs and pelvic floor are slightly shifting inwards. You can feel the tension in your abdomen.
- Repeat this cycle 10 or more times. Make sure your jaw and neck are relaxed.
Sphinx. This is almost like a plank, but more functional. You are welcome.
- Lay on your stomach. Legs and knees are straight touching the floor. Lift your torso on your forearms. Palms facing down, arms parallel to each other.
- On the inhale, start reaching up with the area between your shoulder blades with a little twist at your chest. Almost like you are trying to get into the tabletop, but only halfway. This is a very small movement. Don’t raise your butt too high in the air, just as far as the spine will take it.
- On the exhale, untwist your chest reaching it forward, and lower yourself down.
Vertical exercise. You will need a kettlebell for this one. Try a 15 lb one to start with or choose the weight that you are comfortable with. Even a small weight is better than none.
- Stand straight with your feet shoulder-distance apart, keens are soft, the crown of your head reaching up creating straight spine.
- Holding your kettlebell tightly with both hands in front of your face start drawing circles around your head first clockwise and then counterclockwise.
- Life hack! Keeping your tongue pressed to your front upper teeth will give you more control.
This exercise helps reduce those sides and strengthen the spine. It is a great way to end your practice.
- Start on your knees. Bring one leg to the side and place it on the foot parallel to the side of the mat. Open your hands to a T.
- Bend away from your leg touching the floor with one hand and stretching through the other. Bring it back and repeat 8-10 times.
- Switch legs and repeat on the other side 8-10 times. Double up your mat if your knees feel uncomfortable.
Please note, that these are just recommendations and do not replace a professional opinion of your personal coach who will have a better idea of the exercises you need based on your body type and your overall health.
Enjoy these exercises and share your results. In the name of beautiful and functional abs!
Written exclusively for our company by Anna Aguilar
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