Photo by Ljupco Smokovski at iStockphoto
Do you spend hours every single day doing sit up after sit up and wondering why you still look the same and have a bad back at the same time? Without a doubt the abs are the most popular muscle to exercise and people can spend longer training it than the other muscles of the body but it is very important to remember that it is a muscle like any other and not any more important so they all need to be worked equally. Instead of focussing on just the abs, focus more on the core which surrounds the whole of the waist and like a belt keeping everything pulled in. Here is my guide to working all angles of the core:
The abdominals are made up of 2 regions, the upper and lower and are most commonly worked. Performing crunches will work the upper abs due to curling forwards while reverse crunches, which is where you raise your knees towards your nose contract the lower abdominals.
The obliques are often known as the love handles on the sides of the abdomen and their role is the stabilise the spine and allow the body to twist from side to side. The obliques are also made up of two regions (internal and external) and are important to work to have that great flat, strong abdominal look. To work these you can perform twisting exercises, the most popular called the Russian Twist and can be performed on the floor or on a stability ball. The other way is to do side bends so you are crunching one side and stretching the other meaning you hit both areas of the obliques.
3. Lower Back
This is an area that is heavily neglected and is vital to work to ensure a strong, tight core and posture. The best ways to work this area are through back raises, deadlifts and also isometric exercises which I will come to next. The lower back is the most commonly injured area for 2 reasons, 1 is that people overwork the abs and neglect this area and 2 is due to working mainly sat down jobs causing strain on the lower back.
4. All in one
You may be reading this thinking that all sounds like a lot of work so the good news is that there is a way to work all those areas of the core at the same time. Firstly if you keep your belly button pulled in and sat in a tall posture with your shoulders back in everyday life then your core will always be working anyway. However if you are in a gym or exercising at home you can perform isometric exercises to work the whole core. Isometric is where the muscles are contracting but you are not moving at all as you would in the other exercises mentioned above. The plank is the best example of this where you hold the position keeping your waist pulled in and a good straight line posture and this will enable the abs, obliques and lower back to all be working.
So there you have it, if you want to get that strong, tight, toned mid section vary your workouts training all these areas and you will notice a big difference.
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