Last in the three part series of #2014LBT is the abs. Now although ‘a six pack’ (in varying degrees) is what many of us would like the reality is far from that! We actually can have strong abdominal muscles, but if we store excess fat on top of this area, we are not able to see them. So although it is incredibly important to work these muscles, we must not forget cardiovascular exercise to go with them. In that way, you will hopefully be able to see the fruit of your labour.
As well as looking great, abs are crucially important as they support the spine in holding it’s shape and your posture. A very high percentage of lower back pain is due to weak abdominals and consequently poor posture. It is important not just to train one set of abdominals i.e. the rectus abdominis (six pack muscles). We must include exercises to develop strength and stamina in the deeper abdominals such as the transverse abdominal, internal and external obliques. Strengthening the pelvic floor along with the abdominals goes hand in hand with a whole host of additional benefits.
1. Thread the needle (ab exercise)
Come into a side plank position and make sure the hips stay off the floor throughout the exercise. Inhale and extend the free arm up towards the ceiling and follow the arm with your head. Exhale and sweep the arm underneath your hip and allow the body to twist whilst raising the hips an inch higher. Unravel the twist and extend the arm back up to the ceiling and repeat.
Perform this exercise x20 on each side, completing 3 sets in total.
Lying on your back placing your hands underneath your lower spine, send the toes straight up to the ceiling. Very important: ensure that you imprint your spine (draw the tummy button down to the lower back and try to press the lower back onto the hands) at all times throughout the whole of the exercise. Slowly lower the legs down towards the floor whilst crossing your feet over each other. You should only lower your legs as far down as you can whilst maintaining that imprinted spine. Continue to cross/scissor the legs but start to draw the legs back up to the ceiling.
Begin in a plank pose and slowly lift one leg straight behind you. Ensure that the abdominals are connected and you are drawing your tummy button up towards your lower spine. Draw the knee towards your nose whilst rounding the top of your spine. Take the leg back to the start and try to keep the leg lifted.
Perform x20 on one leg first and then repeat on the other side. Complete 3 sets in total.
To keep the routine varied, it is quite nice to perform one set of each exercise back to back with a short rest between sets or perhaps slip in a 5 minute cardio blast.
Having covered the #2014LBT series, why do not combine each week together for a real challenge?!? If you do please let me know how you got on and how you felt the next day by leaving a comment below……….