Six-pack midsectionCebu Daily News
Dos and donts
•Do zip up your abs all day long. Whenever you get a free moment, look down. Are you allowing your abs to pooch outward? Pull them in, Imagine that you’re zipping up a corset starting at your pelvic bone. As you zip it up, your tummy pulls in and up. The more often you zip up your abs, the less often you’ll need to remind yourself to do so.
•Do protect your back. Do this by keeping your lower back pressed down to the floor and bringing your navel toward your spine during any type of abdominal crunch or exercise.
•Do exhale through the nose at the proper time. You need to exhale whenever you contract your abdomen during your exercise. If you inhale on a contraction you’ll press your tummy out, Exhale on the way up, scoop and hollow and feel as though you’re deflating a balloon.
•Do stay consistent. Fortunately, your abdominal muscles respond quickly to toning no matter what your age. You must work your abs and back at least three times a week, particularly after age 40, to keep them fit and firm.
•Don’t focus only on your abdomen. You need a total body conditioning program to shed fat effectively.
•Don’t get discouraged. Abs work can feel tough, especially in the beginning. Short of getting out of bed, few movements in life mimic the abdominal crunch, so your abs get little work throughout your natural day. They may well rank as the weakest muscles in your body. Just do your best. As a general rule go until you start to feel the burn, and then do two more.
•Don’t rush. The more slowly you do each exercise, the more effective the movement.
•Don’t ignore stretching. These routines all takes in 20 minutes or less. Don’t try to shorten them even more by skipping the stretches. These stretches help you to make the most of your abdominal work by allowing you to recover between exercises, helping you to work each movement to your fullest potential.
1. Roll down
A. Sit on your mat with your legs bent and feet flat on the mat. Sit tall, extending the crown of your head toward the ceiling to create a nice, long, flat back. Gently grasp your thighs with your hands.
B. Starting from your tailbone, slowly roll back toward the floor one vertebra at a time as you exhale and bring your tummy in and up, forming C shape with your spine and creating length between each vertebra. Once your head reaches the mat, reverse the direction by curling upward one vertebra at a time as you inhale, starting with your neck, and then your upper back, then middle back. then lower back until you return to the starting position. Do 8 to 12 repetitions.
2. Pulsing crunch
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on your mat. Raise your feet as you keep your knees bent, forming a 90 degree angle between your thighs and your torso. Extend your arms at your sides so that they are parallel to, but a few inches above the floor, Press your lower back into the mat, tighten and contract your abs, and exhale as you slowly raise your shoulders off the mat, bringing your fingertips past either side of your buttocks. Keep your head in a neutral position. Inhale as you lower slightly, then exhale as you reach forward with your fingers again, pulsing up and down without lowering your shoulder blades onto the mat. Do 8-12 repetitions.
3. Single-leg Stretch
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on your mat. Bring your left knee toward your chest. Tighten your abs, exhale and extend and raise your right leg off the floor only as far as you can while keeping your back flat against the mat. Place your right hand on your left knee and your left hand on your left ankle. Inhale as you flatten and tighten your tummy and raise your shoulders.
Switch legs, without lowering your head to the floor as you exhale. Press outward through your toes and make the movement as smooth and controlled as possible. Continue to alternate your legs and hands moving with your breath, until you’ve completed 8 to 12 repetitions.
4. Twisting crunch
Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the mat. Place your fingers behind your head with your elbows open to the sides. Exhale and lift your right shoulder toward your left knee. Inhale as you lower your shoulder. Then exhale and lift your left shoulder toward your right knee. Continue to alternate from right to left, repeating until you’re done 8 to 12 repetitions. Throughout, keep your elbows open out to the sides not closed around your head. Relax your head back into your fingers, trying not to use your hands and arms to yank your upper body toward your knees.
5. Twisting crunch on ball
You can do the same exercise on a stability ball, increasing the challenge and benefit of the exercise. Sit on a large stability ball. Walk your feet away from the ball as you slide your back down the ball, stopping once your lower and middle back press against the ball. Place your fingers behind your head with your elbows open to the sides. Exhale as you lift your left shoulder to the right. Inhale as you lower to center and then exhale as you lift your right shoulder to the left. Continue to alternate from left to right. Repeating until you’ve done 8 to 12 repetitions.
6. Full body reach
Lie on your back with your legs extended. Extend your arms overhead. Bend your left knee and place your left foot on the mat. Exhale as you reach through your right arm and right leg. Then exhale and switch, bending your right knee and reaching through your left arm and leg. Continue alternating for 20 seconds adding more and more length to your body.
More from this Column:
- Turn stress into strength
- Six-pack midsection
- Six-pack midsection (First of two parts)
- The benefits of walking
- Lower back pain