Training the abs (also known as core training) is one of the, if not the most widely exercised muscle groups in the body. So much so that most fitness clubs dedicate entire group training sessions just to target them.
- IMPROVED POSTURE
The way you stand, sit, and even walk affects the way that your body feels on a daily basis. Improving your abdominal strength will help to create an ideal posture which places the least amount of pressure on the back as possible, which will result in a smaller amount of wear and tear on your spine. Further, strengthening the core will correct bad posture by helping to distribute your body weight evenly and giving your waistline a possible boost.
- PREVENTS LOWER BACK PAIN
Core strength can help you to become more mindful of the way you perform your daily tasks such as lifting heavy objects, gardening, or sitting at your desk while at work. Over time maintaining a straight spine becomes a subconscious reflex over time. Improving your abs will help to increase the mobility and strength through your hips, thighs, and glutes and help to prevent and in some cases even relieve back pain.
- BETTER BREATHING
Developing stronger abdominal muscles will transfer into even stronger breathing muscles like the diaphragm and the intercostals. Strong abdominals helps to gain neutral hips and will stack your body and its organs better so that it becomes much easier to breathe.
These points aren’t exactly disadvantages but points as to what ab training isn’t.
- Ab training is not the only form of training you should be doing. People tend to overdo the amount of exercises and reps that is recommended or needed which can lead actual weakened abdominals in the long run.
- Even though exercises can strengthen the abdominals they can’t tone or “shred” your abs. Only through proper diet and balanced program of strength and cardio training can you achieve that.
- Improper form can be costly over time. By practicing bad form with your ab exercises you can put too much of your own bodyweight onto your spine. Over a period of time it can actually make your aches and pains worst and not achieve the results you want. Always consult with an expert, if possible.
Here are some ab exercises that you can add to your current training program.
- Get on your stomach with hands flat on floor under your chest.
- Push chest and hips away from the ground so that only your feet and hands are on the ground.
- Push neck and sternum as far from the ground as possible
- Hold for a prescribed amount of time. Try for 30 seconds first and then move to a longer time period.
- Keep stomach tight
- Stand up straight while holding a dumbbell or medicine ball over your head. Your feet should be placed at shoulder width. This will be your starting position.
- While keeping your back straight and your head up, bend only at the waist to the right as far as possible. Breathe in as you bend to the side. Then hold for a second and come back up to the starting position as you exhale. Tip: Keep the rest of the body stationary.
- Now repeat the movement but bending to the left instead. Hold for a second and come back to the starting position.
- Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions and then change hands.
- Connect a handle to a cable machine or use a resistance band. Position the cable or band to shoulder height. If not, a low pulley will suffice.
- With your side to the cable, grab the handle with both hands and step away from the attached portion. You should be approximately arm’s length away from the pulley, with the tension of the weight on the cable.
- With your feet positioned hip-width apart and knees slightly bent, hold the cable to the middle of your chest. This will be your starting position.
- Press the cable away from your chest, fully extending both arms. You core should be tight and engaged.
- Hold the repetition for several seconds before returning to the starting position.
- At the conclusion of the set, repeat facing the other direction.
Stir the Pot
- Rest your elbows on a large Swiss ball and get yourself into a proper plank position.
- Your arms should be bent at a 90 degree angle and your entire body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles.
- Keep your abs braced and contract your glutes.
- From this position, simply move your forearms in a small circular motion while keeping the rest of your body stationary.
- Perform for certain period of time or for a number of repetitions. Be sure to go both ways!
- Lie on your back with your arms and legs extended straight up to the ceiling.
- Tighten your abs and press your lower back down into the floor.
- Take a deep breath in.
- As you exhale, slowly lower your legs and arms towards the ground.
- Once you’ve touched the ground with your arms and legs, slowly bring them back up to the starting position.
- Lie on your right side, in a straight line from head to feet, resting on your forearm. Your elbow should be directly under your shoulder.
- With your abdominals gently contracted, lift your hips off the floor, maintaining the line.
- Keep your hips square and your neck in line with your spine.
- While holding the plank, bring one knee up towards your chest and pause for a second then bring your leg back to starting position.
- Bring the other knee up in the same fashion, pause and bring back to starting position.
- Perform for a set number of repetitions. Be sure to switch sides and repeat.