98, 99, 100!

Are you spending a good 20 minutes doing ab exercises every workout?  Are you doing the same 3 over and over again?  Can you do all those exercises 100 times without getting tired or sore?  Well it’s time to change your workout and improve your movements.  Here are two simple abs that will make you wish you had never read this article!

 

Ab Roll-ups.  This is a full body movement and is as much about cardio as it is about abs.  There are three levels (and more but we’ll stick to the basics here) to this movement, so just in case you feel like you’ve mastered it there are plenty of ways to make it more difficult.

 

  • Level 1: The basic ab roll up will include you, a mat, a medium sized medicine ball (6-10lbs) and some open space (in case things don’t go exactly to plan)
    • First- Laying on your back pull your knees up towards your chest, rolling into a ball (but not so much that you roll yourself all the way backwards)
    • Second- Throw your legs down with some umph and plant your feet about shoulder width apart, make sure to roll your spine as you come down so your butt doesn’t smack the floor.
    • Third- As your upper body pops up off the mat, thrust the medicine ball out in front of you (the extra weight will help add more forward momentum and make it easier to stand up)
    • Fourth- with your butt down and chest up (think great squat form) stand up quickly.
    • Fifth- come back to the floor the same way you went up and as soon as your butt hits the mat pull your knees to your chest and repeat steps 1-4 The first rep is always the hardest as you start with no momentum.  So if you don’t make it up just continue your roll and try again.  Shoot for a set of 5
  • Level 2: If you’ve mastered that movement know it’s time to get rid of the medicine ball.  You can instead (if need be) start your roll with your arms over your head on the mat and as you throw your feet down to the mat shove your arms out in front of you and use that momentum to help you up.
  • Level 3: If this is still to easy perform the same movements but this time cross your arms tightly over your chest.

 

In all of these movements it’s important to strive for good form when you go to stand up.  Make sure that as you begin to stand that you have your hips under your shoulders (chest up butt down) and that your spine is extended and not rounded.  Ultimately shooting for 10-15 reps is plenty, as you’ll notice that your abs and your cardio will both be taxed and it becomes fatiguing quickly!

 

The second ab exercise I’d like to share with you is a basic Plank with an added bonus of a shoulder touch.  Make sure that you are always engaging your abs in your plank before you add movement.

 

  • First- Start in a plank from your hands and toes.  Your shoulders should be directly over your hands or if you’d like to work a little harder putting your shoulders in front of your hands will engage more abs.
  • Second- make sure you get a good pelvic tilt so that your abs get turned on, you should immediately feel your stomach muscles engage once you have done a correct pelvic tilt.
  • Third- Pull your right hand off the floor and touch your left shoulder, hold for 2 seconds.  As you pull your hand off the floor you need to make sure that your hips stay facing the floor (they don’t turn with your arm), to help maintain this squeeze your glutes.
  • Fourth- place your hand back on the floor, re-check your hips (facing the floor, abs engaged, shoulders over hands) and then pick up your left hand and touch your right shoulder.  Again, hold for 2 seconds.  Shoot for a set of 5-8 reps each arm

 

It is extremely important that you maintain a flat plank (hips stay even with your shoulders, not popping up), there is little to no rotation as you move your hands, and that you always maintain weight in your hands.  Hold the full 2 seconds, this is not a rushed exercises.  In fact, the slower more deliberate you are the harder this exercise is.

 

The next time you go to do your 500 ab crunches replace a set or two with one of the above exercises and see how you do.  If it’s still too easy find a trainer and I can guarantee we can make you work harder!

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