While “getting fit” might be one of the top New Year goals, “getting six pack abs” might be one of the most popular exercise goals. Recently, long time football and track coach, Si Douaihy, asked how he might strengthen his abdominal muscles (abs) without hurting his back. For years he has been doing traditional sit ups and presently suffers from a chronic lower back problem. I hope this column answers his question.
There are many fallacies related to abdominal exercises that need to be confronted in order to understand how to get a flat stomach. First, you cannot reduce fat in a specific part of the body over another. If you have belly fat, you must lose weight first, in order to allow the underlying muscles to become more visible. If you lose 10 to 15 pounds, it is lost in all parts of the body that have excessive fat, not one area more than another. Second, performing 100 sit up exercises will not guarantee washboard abs. More often than not, those able to perform 100 sit ups are in excellent physical condition. Furthermore, people often use poor technique and substitute muscles other than the abdominals. Last week we discussed Level I Abdominal Exercises For Beginners and Level II Abdominal Exercises for the Moderately Fit. This week’s column provides abdominal exercises for Level III - Excellent Physical Condition (high fitness level).
LEVEL THREE – 6 Abd Exercises for a High Fitness Level
- Abdominal Curl - Advanced (see photo): Position same as in basic abd curl. While holding the abstight, slowly curl your upper body and lift shoulder blades up 4 inches and curl chest toward knees. Hold for 3-5 seconds and lower slowly. Repeat 5-10 times.
- Exercise Ball Hip Hikes (see photo): While sitting on an exercise ball, hike your hip and knee up to 90 degrees as if you are marching. Hold the position for 3-5 seconds on one leg and lower slowly. Repeat this on the other leg and alternate 10 times. Stabilize your core and do not let your trunk tilt.
- Planks on Ball or Bou (see photo): Using a Bosu Ball or Ther Ex Ball, prop up on forearms in a push-up position. Hold the position as a firm plank for 10-20-30 seconds. Advance to 60-90 seconds.
- Plank on Ball or Bosu with Ladder Climb or Scissor Kicks (see photo): Using a Bosu Ball or Ther Ex Ball assume same on forearms as above. Perform a ladder climb by hiking your hip slowly. Return to starting position and repeat on other leg. Once mastered, attempt a scissor kick motion by spreading your leg out 30 degrees to the side. Hold the position for 3-5 seconds on one leg and return slowly to cross over the middle. Repeat this on the other leg and alternate 10 times. Maintain a firm core without tilting the body during both of these exercises.
- Bicep Curls on Ball with Hip Hike (see photo): Sit on exercise ball with ONE foot on the floor holding exercise band and the other foot 4-6 inches hiked up off floor. Hold band in both hands, tighten abd muscles and slowly bend elbows up toward shoulders. Lower slowly and switch foot to hold band on floor after 5 – 10 repetitons. Focus on trunk core stabilization while performing this exercise by keeping trunk stable. Eventually, this can be performed standing on a Bosu ball with two feet, then advance to one leg. If possible, perform in front of a mirror for feedback.
- Trunk Rows/Lats on Ball with Hip Hike (see photo): Sit on exercise ball with ONE foot on the floor and the other foot 4-6 inches hiked up off floor. Attach exercise band to inside door knob and hold in both hands. Tighten abd muscles, pinch shoulder blades together and performing a “row the boat” movement. Return slowly and switch feet after 5-10 repetions. Focus on trunk core stabilization while performing this exercise by keeping trunk stable. Eventually, this can be performed standing on a Bosu ball with two feet, then advance to one leg. If possible, perform in front of a mirror for feedback.
Model: Samantha Snead
Photos: Jen Hnatko
NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”