What’s The Big Deal About Abdominal Exercises?







Abdominal exercises help strengthen your abs and provide trunk (core) stability. Your core is where all movement in your body originates. The abs help support and protect the internal organs and aid in breathing, especially exhaling. Also, these muscles work with the back to control trunk motion, such as twisting and bending.



Starting Exercises

If you have not done any ab exercises recently then you should start with a few easy movements. These exercises will prepare you for more intense ab exercises. Once you feel comfortable with these exercises you can move on to some of the regular exercises.

Keep your movements smooth and slow, and do not overexert yourself. Ensure when you do abdominal exercises that you support your back as much as possible. As with any exercise, when you do abdominal exercises, you should warm up beforehand.



The Standing Leg Raise

The standing leg raise will help to strengthen and tone the front of the thighs and also will increase hip flexibility. It also helps with balance, and it's a good idea to use a chair or table to help with the balancing. Remember to stay within your comfort zone and keep your movements smooth and fluid.

  • Stand upright with feet together, place one hand on the back of a chair or table to balance.

  • With your left leg slightly bent, raise your right leg out in front of you up to a height that you are comfortable with. Try to keep your right leg straight.

  • Hold your leg out in front of you for 2-3 seconds.

  • Lower the leg back to the starting position.

  • Repeat 5 times with the right leg.

  • Now do the raises with the left leg, 6 times, keeping the right leg slightly bent throughout.

    If you find this exercise easy then increase the number of repetitions of the exercise. You can also start holding the raised leg out in front for a longer and longer period of time.



    Stomach Tuck

    The stomach tuck will help to tone the lower stomach area, and can be done anytime, anywhere. Using this exercise for a few weeks is a good base for Crunches.

  • Sit upright against the back of a chair.

  • Breathe out and at the same time suck in your stomach.

  • Hold your stomach in for 2-3 seconds keeping your stomach held in as much as possible.

  • Breathe in as you release your stomach.

    It is really as simple as that. Try it out on the bus or last thing at night before bed.



    Waist Twists

    The waist twist is a good simple exercise that helps you firm up and tone your waist. The exercise is low impact and a nice gentle warm up before adding Crunches into your daily workout.

  • Sit fully upright on a chair with feet flat on the floor slightly apart.

  • Place your fingertips so they are touching the top of the shoulders, so the arms are bent at the elbows.

  • Slowly twist the elbows, arms and shoulders as if you are turning to look over your shoulder. Let your head follow around with the upper part of your body.

  • Throughout the turn keep your abdominal muscles tensed.

  • Once you have reached as far around as is comfortable, slowly rotate back around to the opposite side, then return to the starting position.

  • Do a total of 5-6 repetitions.


    Regular Abdominal Exercises

    Reverse Crunch

  • Lying on your back on the floor, hold onto a table leg to help keep your torso against the floor throughout the exercise.

  • Keep the knees slightly bent.

  • Pull your pelvis and legs up slowly so that your knees are above your chest.

  • Slowly return to beginning position.



    The Crunch

    The crunch is one of the most basic but most effective workouts for the abdominal muscles.

  • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor, legs bent at a 45 degree angle and hands resting underneath the neck.

  • Make sure you press the small of your back into the floor throughout the duration of the exercise to guard against back injury.

  • Lift the back and head off the floor and push the chest up toward the ceiling. The feet, buttocks and small of the back remain on the floor.

  • Lower back to the ground and into the starting position.

    The amount of repetitions you do will really depend on the strength of your stomach muscles.



    Best Abdominal Exercises

    A number of fitness experts and studies say that two of the best abdominal exercises are the Bicycle and the Crunch on an exercise ball.

    Bicycle

  • Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground.

  • Put your hands beside your head. Bring your knees up to about a 45-degree angle and slowly go through a bicycle pedal motion.

  • Touch your left elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee.

  • Breath evenly throughout the exercise.


    Crunch on an exercise ball

  • Sit on the exercise ball with your feet flat on the floor.

  • Let the ball roll back slowly and lie back until your thighs and torso are parallel with the floor.

  • Contract your abdominals raising your torso to no more than 45 degrees.

  • To work the oblique muscles, make the exercise less stable by moving your feet closer together.


    Remember, abdominal exercises are easy to do and don't usually require equipment. Abdominal exercises are one of the most important types of exercises you can do for your core. And your core is where all movement in your body originates. Your core is of utmost importance for your overall health related fitness.





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    Recommended Resource Sites

    Exerstrider - Walking poles from Tom Rutlin. A good site for poles and information about pole/nordic walking.



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    PowerSystems.com This is another site similar to Perform Better. They have a great variety of exercise equipment that you may find difficult to get at regular stores.




    ActiveForever.com This site has equipment that is more medically based. It may be a good alternative if you're looking for physical therapy equipment or other things that a medical person may have recommended.

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    Buy.com This site really has little to do with fitness or nutrition, but it is one of my favorite sites. They carry everything from electronics to books. Their prices are some of the most competitive on the internet, and they often offer free shipping. If I am looking to buy almost anything, I check them out first. This link is only for US and Canadian buyers.

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