wants flat, toned abs, not just if you are a new mum or mum! The
problem is most people do not know how to get them.
to text books and numerous fitness magazine workouts and some health club
classes ab exercises revolve around bent knee sit ups, twisting bent knee sit
ups,curl ups and crunches. And these have been the ab training exercises
people choose for generations.
What do you currently do or have you done in the
past to flatten your abs and tighten your tummy?
- Fifty crunches or sit-ups/day...and you
didn’t get results and may have hurt your neck and back from it
- Held the plank...without
understanding that it needs to be flat (the area between the shoulders and butt
resembles a sagging hammock)
- Used the latest ab
- Shoulder presses...while balancing or sitting on a swiss ball or
bosu (half an inflated sphere)
So what’s the problem
with these exercises?
- Fifty crunch lady – she is just working her abs,
rather than her whole ‘core’, in only one direction
(up and down) at a low intensity. If she has diastasis she will be further widening
the gap between her abs (following pregnancy and childbirth) putting her back
under further strain.
- The plank with bad form isn’t effective, however performed with good technique being
completely straight from shoulder to toe, without flexing the lower back means
this is one of the best exercises to work the whole core.
- The latest ab gizmo (don’t be fooled, bodyweight exercises are better)
- Shoulder presses on a swiss ball or bosu – great if
you are rehabilitating from an injury otherwise you’d be
better doing them with your feet on the ground and heavier weights as it provides
more challenge to your abs and core (assuming you adopt good posture throughout the exercise)
Why Crunches and Sit-Ups don’t get your flat abs
and what you can do which will work!
Spot reduction doesn’t work and in the case of
crunches and sit-ups, it can hurt!
Research from a study at a State University in
Ohio tested how effective sit-ups were with 71 men and women split up into three groups. One
group didn’t do any sit-ups, another did three sets of 20 sit-ups three times a week
on non-consecutive days. The last group did sit-ups six days a week. The difficulty of
the sit-up was increased every four weeks. The
researchers were surprised by how ineffective the exercise proved to be. None
of the three groups showed any strength gains, muscle tone or reduction in waist size
or body fat percentage. Therefore the group which didn’t do any sit-ups got the same
results as those doing 60 sit-ups per day, six days a week. The
research authors stated "This finding suggests that training the abdominals
levels short of fatigue is inadequate to produce strength gains," So, a
abdominal exercise needs to be employed to effectively exercise your abs, reduce
belly fat and waist size.
research from the University of Waterloo revealed that sit-ups can cause back
problems. According to Professor Stuart McGill (IDEA fitness Journal article – Jan
2010) "Realize that the spinal disks can bend only so often before
damage ensues," So a crunch or sit-up is almost replicating the exact movement
to cause of bulging or herniated discs of the lumbar spine. Therefore doing
hundreds of reps is going to put your lower back at grave risk!
So what should you do..to protect your back and flatten your abs
true function of your abdominal muscles, core and pelvic floor is stabilization
in different directions (and not just lying on your back!). So why does movement
forwards and backwards lying on your back dominate abdominal workouts? Exercising
the abs and core standing is more functional as we are standing when we need to
abs to be strong to lift, bend and carry our babies or little ones. You want a stable core, mobile hips, and a strong
but not over worked or too flexible lower back
best way to strengthen abs and improve core stability is via pillar stability
holds - front and side pillars/planks,
hip extension holds, and all fours opposite arm and leg reach variations. Plus
it is better to focus on quality and form rather than quantity.
10-Minute Home Sample Core Stability Workout in
We are going for perfect form and quality for the best results. So aim to do each exercise for 10 second with 3 secs rest and repeat 6 times.
This is better than doing 1 set of
a 60-second hold, which can be too difficult and tricky to keep with good technique!
- Front Pillar/Push-up Hold
- Left Side Pillar Hold
- Right Side Pillar Hold
- Hip Extension or on all fours opposite arm and leg reach Hold
- Knee Raise Hold (standing)