There is no doubt that ab exercises are effective and important for your health
However, the most popular ab workouts people do are sit-ups and crunches. These exercises can cause excessive flexing of the spine, especially if there are too many repetitions. Excessive flexing of the spine can cause compression of your spinal discs, causing them to bulge and press on nerves. This can lead to back pain or more serious medical conditions. Switch up your routine by trying these 5 ab exercises below!
Things to keep in mind before getting started:
- Never think you can crunch away a bad diet: Abs are made in the kitchen. What does this mean? Going to the gym and doing rounds of sit-ups won’t get rid of much stomach fat. You need to address the fat, by addressing what you eat first. Once you change your diet, you will then start seeing the results that you want with these exercises.
- Don’t hold your breath: Correct breathing techniques when you’re doing ab exercises-or being physically active in general-can make a huge difference in the outcome of your workout. Breathing correctly means your workout can leave you feeling energized, while improper breathing can leave you feeling fatigued. It might even result in injury or other health problems, such as headaches, dizziness and pain in the neck and shoulders. Therefore, it’s important to bring mindfulness into your breathing when you’re doing stomach exercises. The golden rule for breathing when you’re working out is to exhale during the hard part and inhale during the easy part.
Example: For the Roman Chair leg raise, exhale when you’re lifting your legs and inhale when you’re lowering them.
Roman Chair Leg Raise
Step 1: Position yourself in an upright roman chair. Be sure your back is upright and against the back of the chair. Also, be sure your elbows are directly under your shoulders when placing them on the pad.
Step 2: Begin exercise by slowly raising your legs up until they are parallel to the ground, while keeping them as straight as possible.
Step 3: Slowly lower legs back down to the starting position. Be sure you lower your legs all the way back down before raising them back up. Repeat for 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
Tuck Jump in and out to side oblique crunch
Step 1: Grab a heavy dumbbell that will hold your weight without moving.
Step 2: Start to get in a high plank position, hands holding the sides of the dumbbell.
Step 3: Bend your knees and jump your feet towards your hands, landing in a crouch on the balls of your feet.
Step 4: Jump up and extend your legs back out to your plank position.
Step 5: Bend one leg and bring the knee toward your shoulder on the same side, crunching your oblique as you do so. Keep the upper body stationary throughout the movement. Pause and return the leg to your starting position.
Step 6: Repeat on the opposite side. Do 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions on each side.
Step 1: Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground and knees bent. Your feet should be on the floor and your hands are behind your head.
Step 2: Contract your core muscles, drawing in your abdomen to stabilize your spine.
Step 3: With your hands gently holding your head, pull your shoulder blades back and slowly raise your knees to about a 90-degree angle, lifting your feet from the floor.
Step 4: Exhale and slowly, at first, go through a bicycle pedal motion, bringing one knee up towards your armpit while straightening the other leg, keeping both elevated higher than your hips.
Step 5: Rotate your torso so you can touch your elbow to the opposite knee as it comes up. Repeat for 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions on each side.
Step 1: Lie face up on the floor, holding a stability ball overhead with both hands, your legs together and extended straight on the floor.
Step 2: In one motion, brace your core and lift your arms and legs off the ground, placing the ball between your feet.
Step 3: Squeeze the ball with your legs and lower your arms and legs back to the floor.
Step 4: Repeat, passing the ball back to your hands. That's one rep. Do this for 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
Ball Roll outs
Step 1: Get down on your knees and place your fists on top of an exercise ball. Elbows should be bent 90 degrees and your lower back should be naturally arched. This is the starting position.
Step 2: Begin exercise by slowly rolling the ball forward with your fists as your arms and body straighten out. Extend your body as far as you can while keeping your hips in line with the rest of your body.
Step 3: Hold this position for a brief moment, then slowly reverse movement back to starting position. Repeat for 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
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Posted by Katie Frissell
I'm a certified personal trainer with a bachelor's degree in health sciences and a minor in nutrition. I have always had a passion for fitness and I enjoy motivating and encouraging every client I work with to help them meet their goals. Being a part of another person's journey towards a happier and healthier life brings tremendous meaning into mine.