31 Days To A Much Improved You – Tip #22 Add These Four Ab Exercises To Your Daily Routine

Reverse Crunch - Start Position

Reverse Crunch – Start Position

Reverse Crunch – Finish Position

Reverse Crunch

The Reverse Crunch will help you to reestablish your ability to contract you abdominal muscles. It will also help to increase the strength of your lower abs. Start in a lying position on your elbows Bend your knees to 90 degrees. Leave your heels on the ground and lift your toes. Before you start to lift your legs off the ground you need you go into a posterior pelvic tilt.  If you were wearing a belt, tilt your pelvis back so that belt buckle would get closer to your belly button. Your lower back should flatten out into the floor a little. Hold that pelvic tilt position during the entire exercise. Now lift your heels off the floor until your shins are parallel to the floor. Then slowly lower your feet back to the floor. If you lose the pelvic tilt, reset it before performing the next repetition. If this exercise is easy you are probably not maintaining the pelvic tilt. If your stomach or chest bows forward, that is a sign that you are losing the pelvic tilt.

 

 

Elevation - Start Position

Elevation - Finish Position

Elevations

This is a more dynamic abdominal exercise. Start in a lying position with your hands by your side. Lift your legs so that they are perpendicular to the floor; straight up and down. From that position lift your hips, knees and heels straight up toward the ceiling.

In the “Finish” photo I exagerated the hip lift so you can see that your hips should be coming off of the floor. In reality you want to avoid having your feet move forward toward, or over your head. Your hips should only lift about 1-3 inches off of the floor.  If this is easy you are probably swinging your legs a little too much. Return to start position and repeat.

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Leg Circles - Start Position

Leg Circles - Position 2

Abdominal Leg Circles

For this exercise there are three position. Please check the third picture below for this description to make sense. Start in the same position as the Reverse Crunch. Set your pelvic tilt. Extend your legs out straight and lift your feet a couple of inches off the ground. With out touching the ground slide your heels along the floor toward your hips. Then straighten your legs and lower your straightened legs back to the start position. After completing one set use the same exact positions but rotate your feet in the opposite direction.

Lift your straight legs off of the floor unilt your legs are perpindicular to the floor. Bend your knees, then press your heels away from your body. Back to the starting position.

 

Leg Circle - Position 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medicine Ball Twist - Start Position

Medicine Ball Twist - Finish Position

Medicine Ball Twist

Balance on you tailbone (boat pose/coccyx balance). Hold a medicing ball in both hands. Keeping it close to your body rotate your shoulders as far as you can. Rotate in both directions.

A common mistace is to have very little shoulder rotation and to move the ball from side to side with your hands.

The obliques, the muscle we are trying to strenghten with this exercise rotate the trunk/spine. So if we want to strenghten them properly our shoulders must turn.

 

 

 

Add these four abdominal exercises to your daily routine. Do them at the same time as the four Core exercises that I introduced in Tip #9. Build up to doing two sets of each. 25 Repetitions each for the Reverse Crunch and Elevations. 15 Leg Circles in each directions. And do as many Medicine Ball Twists as you can.

Watch the video below to learn more on how to perform these exercises correctly. I’ll be back tomorrow with Tip #23

 

 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vcF8qYZZGw[/youtube]

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

31 Days To A Much Improved You – Tip #9 Add These Four Core Exercises

Plank

Bridge

Bridge

The Bridge is a great core exercise. It helps to strengthen the hamstrings, gluteals, and all of the muscles that support the lower spine and pelvis. This picture shows the end position of the bridge. To start you want to lye flat on the ground, bend your knees to about 90 degrees. Then press through your heels and lift your hips toward the ceiling. The goal is to lift your hips high enough so that there is a straight line through your knees, hips and shoulders. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat 3 times.

 

 

 

 

 

Plank

Plank 

The Plank is a core exercise that is rooted in Yoga. It helps to strengthen all the muscles that stabilize the spine and pelvis as well as the shoulder. Start by lying flat on the ground. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulder and your feet should be together with your weight on your toes. Lift your hips up so that only your toes and elbows (forearms too) are on the ground. Lift your hips until there is a straight line through your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.  The weight of your body should be directly over your elbows and toes. You should avoid pressing forward on your elbows or backward on your toes. Also avoid “A-framing” (hips too high) or “Sagging” (hips too low). Hold this position for as long as you can. Repeat 3 times.

 

 

 

 

Pointer

Pointer 

This is called a pointer because when you perform it you look like a pointer dog. Start on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Lift your right hand and left knee one inch of the ground. Hole this position while attempting to avoid any movement in the rest of your body. Take 4 seconds to slowly extend both your arm and leg simultaneously. Then take 4 seconds to return them to the start position (with out touching your hand and knee to the ground). Do 8-12 Repetitions on each side.

 

 

 

 

 

Boat Pose

Boat Pose 

The Boat Pose is also rooted in Yoga. I typically call this Coccyx Balance, because your coccyx bone is your tailbone. Balance on your tailbone lift your feet so that your shins are parallel to the ground. Your arms should be by your side, also parallel to the ground. Lift your sternum (breast bone), so that your spine is flat. Hold as long as you can. Repeat 3 times.

 

 

 

 

 

Add theses four core exercises to your daily routing. Do them everyday. Watch the video below to learn more about how to perform these exercises correctly. I’ll be back tomorrow with Tip #10

 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Djq1SjwlW0[/youtube]

Abdominal And Core Training

Abdominal and Core

Abdominal and Core Training have been around since the development of structured exercise programs. Ab exercises are nothing new they’ve been around forever. But the term Core Training has become very popular in the last ten years.

Abdominal and Core training is the foundation to your success. Here’s why…

To help explain the importance of Ab and Core Training it’s important to first understand what your Abs and Core are.

Abdominals

Abs are simple, they are your four Abdominal muscles

  1. Transverse abdominal
  2. Internal Obliques
  3. External Obliques
  4. Rectus Abdominis (six pack muscle)

The Core is open to a bit more interpretation.

The most common interpretation of the Core is to divide it into an inner and outer unit. The inner unit being the muscles that stabilize the spine and pelvis (this includes the transverse abdominis). It’s accurate to define this as a “unit” because this group of muscles has an single nerve input. Therefore the muscles that make up the inner unit all contract simultaneously to stabilize the spine and pelvis.

The outer unit is the Abdominal muscles that move the spine (listed above).

In General, this definition of the Core is the most widely used and accepted in the fitness industry. And I can almost agree with it. Except the “outer unit” really isn’t a unit the way the inner unit is. The “outer unit” has multiple nerve inputs and we can consciously decide how to move our spine. The different movements that we’re capable of, engage a different combination of muscles (so it’s not really a unit).

Other definitions of the core also include the muscles that stabilize and move both the shoulder complex and hips. The muscles that stabilize and move the spine, pelvis, hip and shoulders make up the majority of our muscles and a huge majority of movement we are capable of.

If you look at the general definition of Core; “The central, innermost, or most essential part of anything“. Then including the hips and shoulders makes absolutely no sense.
So here is my definition.

Core

The Core is made up of the muscles that stabilize the spine and pelvis. This fits the definition of core, they are the innermost muscles. It is also essential to focus on developing Core strength when beginning a workout routine, as well as maintaining core function throughout your training program and life.

When functioning properly the muscles of the core contract a fraction of a second before your intended movement begins. This contraction is subconscious and serves one purpose. Your Core contracts to stabilize and support your spine and pelvis before movement to protect your spine from injury.

If your Core doesn’t contract prior to movement or if you don’t have adequate strength in your Core muscle, then you are increasing your risk of injury with every movement
When developing your Core and Abs program it’s important to begin with Core exercises. You should first develop adequate core strength then progress to adding abdominal strengthening exercises.

For examples of some Core and Abdominal exercises please visit my “Photo Gallery” page.

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