If doing triple digit crunches everyday in hopes of achieving abs of steel is your go-to core workout, I suggest you change things up, like yesterday. Not only are crunches the #1 exercise done incorrectly by most, they are also a very isolated non functional way to train the middle of your body. My abs-olute favorite way to work my middle is by sitting still and no I don’t mean on the couch.
Stabilization movement upright – like V sits – are great for engaging your core in ways that crunches can never dream of. All the muscles in the front and back of your midsection have to rally together in order to pull this exercise off, so it is also a great way to identify muscular imbalances. For instance, if your back tenses up every time you lift your legs in a V sit then that is a telltale sign that your abs are not engaged. Simply put, your low back and ab muscles are besties – they like to work together, so try “sitting still” in order to fire up your midsection in a major way mama.
Invite other planes of motion to your core workout, roll up that exercise mat once and for all and check out these four reasons why you should try this crunch-less workout pronto.
1. Balance Things Out
If the last time you were able to stand on one leg without toppling over was in the third grade then it may be time to introduce balancing exercises into your core training regimen. Being able to hold yourself up on one leg is all core girl, so next time you are bicep curling or just brushing your teeth play around with taking one foot off the ground for a few seconds at a time. Your abs will love the challenge. I promise.
2. Throw Yourself Off
Now that you know that balancing is good for your core muscles, try throwing yourself off from time to time. What does this mean? Well instead of just balancing in the frontal plane of motion (front to back) try simultaneously adding movement in the sagittal plane as well (side to side). For instance lift one arm out to the side at the same time that you lift the opposite leg out to the side – tilt your entire body over a bit and watch how hard your core has to work just to hold you up. You don’t need a mat to work your abs!
3. The Power Of The Plank
Challenging yes, result driven heck yes – planking is where it’s at girls. Gravity becomes the best workout partner ever when this move is done correctly. With variations galore – forearm, side, on your knees etc. – there really isn’t a reason not to try this powerhouse of an exercise. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t hold yourself up for a whole minute like your boot camp instructor suggests – because for real for real, every little bit counts. Start by doing four consecutive 15 second holds and then build up from there.
4. Lengthen Your Levers
Holding a plank is one thing, but moving your levers (arms and legs) while holding a plank is another. So if you’ve mastered holding a plank for one minute or longer try amping things up with arm and leg extensions. Stabilization during movement is the best replica of real life movement ladies, so whether you plank on your knees or can plank full-out, give this lever movement thing a try. For instance when you are holding a carry out tray of Starbucks coffee in one hand, texting your boo in the other and trying to slip into your 4 inch heels all the same time, that is core control hun. Again, no mat needed.
Robbie Ann Darby (RAD Experience) is a professional FitGirl, Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer in NYC. Follow her sweaty life on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for more fun health and fitness tips!
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