Gone are the days of repetitive crunches and sit-ups! If you’re looking for flat abs and a strong core to support your spine, you should be working your transverse abdominal region. This region is small and often overlooked because we think that crunches and sit-ups are all we need to sculpt our abs. But to keep our spines safe and stable, the transverse abdominals are what need to be strengthened. This is accomplished not by thousands of crunches, which create the vanity abs, but by tightening the core and the muscles of the pelvic floor, it literally acts as a corset for your waist.
In Pilates, ballet and yoga classes, ab workouts involve a lot of breathing. That sounds crazy and irrelevant, but try a plank and exhale deeply. You’ll feel your abs contract and with each exhale you’re tightening your transverse abs and creating a flat tummy. Visualize your belly button reaching your spine as you breathe out. You’ll feel your abs contract immediately.
If planks aren’t your thing (I know they’re not my favorite), consider lying on your back with your knees up at 90 degrees, legs and feet parallel to the ground. Then, exhale completely and bring your belly button into your spine. Hold that contraction in your core and slowly bring your feet to touch the ground, but make sure to let your abs do all the work. If you feel that your back is arching, press your lower back to the ground and get rid of the space between you and your mat. When you keep your lower back on the ground and breathe out as you move your toes to the ground, it will activate your transverse abs and fire up your core. The hardest part is keeping your back from arching and not letting your legs do their job.
Another exercise to try is the C-curve. Sit up tall on your rear with your knees bent out in front of you. Cup your hands under your thighs and relax your shoulders. Slowly roll back as if someone has punched your lower stomach, and make sure that your body is curved around the punch. While you roll back, exhale, keeping the curve in your spine. Visualize your body creating a “C” shape and not a “V.” When you keep your back straight, it will only hurt your spine and won’t work your abs! Hold the C-curve and continue to exhale while bringing your belly button to your spine. If you’re looking for a challenge, lift your arms above your head and slowly curl back an inch and then come up an inch, all while holding the contraction. You are guaranteed to feel the burn.
The best part about these exercises is that they are easy to do in the comfort of your own home. They don’t require large machines or even any weights to be effective. Try adding these exercises to your workout regimen, and I bet you won’t be disappointed.
By: Michelle Chang | Image: Source