The first month of the New Year sparks the optimal motivation to get in shape (or better shape), and who doesn’t long for a flat stomach and washboard abs? However, when working towards a certain body goal, especially a toned abdomen, it’s important to be mindful of the exercises you choose. The old fashioned sit-ups and crunches should be avoided, and core-strengthening exercises that activate various muscle groups should be used instead. Crunches and sit-ups get results, but also commonly cause lower back pain by loading the spine, and even running the risk of prompting an abdominal hernia due to strain.
Dr. Stuart McGill is a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo in Canada. In the lab, McGill and his colleagues have shown that one of the quickest ways to damage the lower back is to load the spine while repeatedly bending it back and forth. Which is remarkably similar to what is going on when you perform a sit-up or crunch. ––– travelstrong.net
For the healthiest way to get toned abs, try these 3 workouts that you can do at home (or anywhere for that matter), without any equipment needed! Though an exercise or yoga mat is always useful.
Fab abs Nº1
Hollow Body Hold
This is a foundational pose that requires you to brace your abdominal muscles and create total-body tension. It’s an exercise all gymnasts learn when they first begin their training, and is an immensely beneficial work out. Using the hollow body hold will improve your ability to perform pull-ups, handstands, squats and literally any other full-body movement. GMB Fitness explains:
Fab abs Nº2
Three Plank Variations
What I love about planks is how simple and painfully effective they are, and also how they managed to become an internet prank sensation starting in 2011 and carrying all the way through to 2016! Performing plank variations is a great option if you’re just beginning your fitness journey, or if you simply prefer to keep your routine minimal. Here’s the problem, a standard plank soon becomes too easy too quickly, so when building up your core you need to make sure you alternate poses for a bit more of challenge. Amy Dixon from Bowflex demonstrates beautifully with two helpful models:
Fab abs Nº3
Similar to planks, this exercise might look easy but causes fatigue in a matter of seconds! If you’re not feeling the burn, you’re not doing it right. The good news is the longer you practice them for, the longer you’ll be able to add reps, and the fitter you’ll become! One of the most important things to keep in mind when practicing the dead bug, is to ensure your back is constantly flush with the ground and your movements are very slow and controlled.
As Amanda Edell states in her Howcast video below, make sure your breathing is synchronised with your movements.
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