We put on extra layers for the winter months, but that doesn’t mean we should do the same where our abs are concerned.
The abdominals are comprised of the rectus abdominus (better known as your “six pack”), the obliques (which are on either side of the rectus abdominus), and the transverse abdominus (the muscles that lie deep beneath the obliques). These muscles work together to stabilize your pelvis and lower back.
Doing specific exercises for your abdominals is important for more than just building a beautiful washboard. A strong core will increase your stability and power for other activities, help prevent injuries, and improve your posture and help prevent back problems in the future. Here are a few quick and easy exercises to keep your tummy tight while tucked in under many layers of clothes this season.
This is an isometric exercise in which you hold a static position for a given amount of time. Begin face-down on the floor, weight resting on your toes and on bent forearms under your chest. You should be in a modified pushup position, but more like a flat bridge, hands in loose fists resting on the ground, elbows bent at ninety degrees. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders, and your hips should be in line with shoulders, back parallel with the floor (not hunched or sagging). Imagine pulling your belly button toward your spine to engage the transverse abdominus. Hold this position for one minute. Rest, then repeat two more times.
Begin on the floor in a normal sit up position, knees bent and hands resting comfortably at your ears. Try to avoid lacing your fingers together behind your head, in order to avoid any unnecessary pulling on your neck. Keeping knees bent, lift your feet off the floor. Your back should remain flat on floor while you alternate your left knee to your right elbow, and then your right knee to your left elbow, twisting back and forth. Count each rep as “one and a half”, one side as the first count, the opposite side as the “half” count. Try to do three sets of fifteen with rest in between.
Jack Knife Physioball Exchange
Begin by lying on your back with a physioball in your hands, legs extended. Arms should be over your head, so physioball is resting on the floor in the starting position. Bring your arms and your feet together, passing the ball from hands to feet at the top. Lower your feet to the ground, while holding ball between the arches of your feet, consecutively allowing your arms to return to the floor above your head. Repeat the ball exchange between hands and feet/ feet to hands twenty times, counting your repetitions in the center with each handoff. Do 2-3 sets.
Lie on the floor with bent knees over a physioball. Your hands should be resting at your ears, elbows bent. Crunch up toward ball, and imagine you are lifting your chin toward the ceiling. Recline back again to start position. Do three sets of 10-20 repetitions each with rest in between.