Abdominal sculpturing is one of the most popular reasons people workout. Burning off belly fat and toning the surrounding areas is what gives the upper body that desired lean physique. Whether you’re going for the chiselled look, or simply want a flatter stomach, abdominal workouts are the best way to go about achieving this.
Unfortunately, and as some of you may already know, a lot of traditional abdominal workouts are actually really harsh on the back, particularly the spine. Sit ups and crunches for example, push the curve of the spine into the floor, creating potentially damaging pressure on a very delicate area.
There is then also the heightened risk of an abdominal hernia, particularly when training too hard or carrying out reps in the wrong posture, which is surprisingly easy to do. To add to the downsides of crunches and sit ups, the possibility of over-strengthening hip flexors and other muscles that attach to the lumbar vertebrae is a common occurrence. When these hip flexors become unbalanced, they create tension as they pull on the lower spine, resulting in lower back pain which will affect proper posture.
When it comes to aiming for that toned abdomen, you want to throw all the traditions right out the window. The military, the body builders, the local circuit training, and any other practice that uses either sit ups or crunches is not doing you any favours. Especially when other exercises create the desired results much more efficiently whilst strengthening core muscles evenly, and protecting surrounding body parts (like the spine).
Abdominal workouts Nº1
Plank & Side Plank
Planks and side planks train the core muscles and abdominals equally, which is the perfect way to prevent imbalance in opposing muscle groups. A good plank will activate the entire body. It’s really a full-body workout. When practicing a side plank, a lot of the focus is directed to the obliques, so it’s the go-to workout if you want to burn off a few layers from the “love handles.”
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Abdominal workouts Nº2
This is the heaviest workout of the four. Requiring the use of dumbbells or kettle bells, it adds dramatic strength and stabilisation to your core, back muscles and obliques. If you don’t have much upper body strength to begin with, go easy and practice nailing planks before going hard on the renegade rows.
How to video by Chris Freytag:
Abdominal workouts Nº3
Always do this one on a well-padded mat to help protect the knees. This is a great exercise for strength and stability around the lumbar spine, and is a perfect addition to a Yoga routine or post-workout stretch montage. The bird dog is like a cross between a plank and the Superman featured as our fourth top abdominal workout on this list.
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Abdominal workouts Nº4
The superman exercise, also known as ‘flying superman’ is a popular yoga pose. It’s primarily a lower back exercise which engages and stretches the muscles all the way from your calves to your rear deltoids. Of course, it wouldn’t be in here if it didn’t also strengthen the entire core and abdominals.
How to video by XHIT Daily:
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