I am very excited to write about this topic!!! Why? Because of the sheer amount of misinformation out there, regarding our abs!
First, let’s look at the function of the abs:
Rectus abdominis (“washboard”): pulls the sternum and pubis together in a “bending over” type motion.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Transverse abdominis: lateral band that operates like Mother Nature’s “girdle”. Pulls the belly button inward, creates intra-abdominal pressure and stabilization.
Obliques: assist in trunk rotation.
I recommend (3) types of movements for the (3) areas of the abs.
Crunches, sit-ups or planks for the “washboard” rectus abdominis.
Drawing in the belly button to activate the transverse abdominis (this is the primary movement for a nice waistline. Crunches don’t really do that)
Twisting motion(s) for the obliques. This simply puts the muscles through their normal function.
Coming into the Holiday Season, remember that our mid-sections suffer from putting on a little fat from excesses of food & drink. Calories in calories out it’s that simple. If we take in a bit too much, then we can burn it off afterward when we’re not consuming too many (excess) calories while also keeping up with our exercise.
So here is an 8-minute workout for abs: (actually, simply a series of movements requiring 30-60 seconds each)
Lie face-down, up on elbows/forearms, palms facing inward. Rise up on toes, body straight. Drop hips down to floor, then raise up 4-6”. hold for 60 sec.
From the same stance, lift one leg upward. Hold for 5 sec. Switch legs/repeat. Continue this for 60 sec. You can also modify by continuously lifting and switching as in a “marching” motion. Go for 30 sec, PAUSE 5 sec, continue another 30 sec.
Perform as in #2 however use a double-wide foot stance (my favorite!) Do only the alternating 5-sec hold. No “marching”.
Perform 2 sets of any of the three versions. Mix and match too!
Lie face up on floor (one leg straight, the other foot pulled back toward buttocks with knee bent 90 degrees) or lying on a physio ball (wide foot stance, ball approx halfway up back).
Cross hands at the shirt collar area. Pick a spot on ceiling directly above hands. Draw in belly button and lift shoulders toward that spot. Contract very hard through tummy area. You won’t move very far but you will feel a good contraction (if you wish to continue the upward movement all the way into a sit-up then you will work the hip flexors as well but a simple crunch will do the trick!).
Perform 2 sets of 20 reps
Attach an exercise rubber band/tube to a fixed anchor at chest height. Grab end(s) of band with both hands, elbows down and locked into your sides, bent 90 degrees so your forearms point out front with hands together.
Back up until the band is stretched. Keep feet approx 8”-10” apart. Twist to one side using your body rather than your arms. Return to mid-point and stop. That’s one rep. Repeat for 20 reps to that same side, then switch sides and perform 20 reps.
Lying reverse trunk twists:
Lie on your back, face up with arms fully extended out to the sides. Draw knees up and back until hips and knees are both bent at 90 degrees. Keep knees/feet together. Now slowly rotate legs to one side. Go as far as you can without lifting the opposite shoulder off the floor. Return to mid-point and continue that rotation to the other side as far as you can. That’s one rep. Continue this back-and-forth rotation, making sure your shoulders don’t lift off the floor. Work up to 20 reps to each side. (Note: if done properly, your body will “scoot” forward a bit as you twist so don’t worry about that).
Perform 2 sets. Mix and match too!
These movements should take about 6–7 minutes. With a bit of rest in between sets, you should be able to complete this workout in 8 minutes!
Wait! What about the 2nd muscle group mentioned above: the Transverse Abdominis (Mother Nature’s “girdle”)? Well, the way to activate that is to simply draw in the belly button as hard as you can then a little harder!
Try this throughout the day and you’ll see your posture improve and your waistline stay contained. And, again, once the Holiday calories have stopped, your normal exercise routine will burn them off and you’ll return to your old self! Good Luck!