Thursday, 15 January 2015

Looking For Some Ab-spiration

I've mentioned a couple of times that I want to create a mini circuit (or two) that I can do at nights just to target some muscle groups.  I have had lower back problems in the past - I've slipped discs in my back three times, and it is totally debilitating.  Basically the only relief (in my situation) was to lie flat on my back for at least a week, taking pain killers and anti-inflammatories.  Even going to the bathroom causes intense pain.  In fact, that's actually how I slipped discs one time.  But that's a whole other story.

Because of my lower back issues, I'm much more conscious in the last few years of building a strong core.  When I was young and stupid, I didn't believe the professionals when they said it was what I needed to do.  But since I've been getting back into serious exercise, I haven't had any back problems (fingers crossed!) since, and I attribute a stronger core to that.

I don't want to rest on my laurels though, particularly because after slipping discs even once, you are more susceptible to doing so again.  So one area I want to target for my mini workouts is my abs.  My goal is to strengthen my core (back and front).  A far off dream is to actually have abs to show off.  I'm a LONG way off that, but it's kind of there at the back of my head for something I'd love to attain one day.  And I know that's not just about having strong muscles - diet and body fat are huge factors too - but I figure strengthening my core is a good start.

We all know the basic crunches and planks that strengthen your abdominals.  I do these and some slight variations as part of my NROLFW workouts - here are some of the workouts I've done.  But I want to find new exercises to challenge and target my core in a new way, so I went on the hunt for some inspiration and some new (to me) core exercises.  I thought I'd share them with you in case you want to try something new too.  I've split the exercises into the areas of your abdominals that they target.

Rectus Abdominus

This muscle covers the area from sternum all the way down to the pelvis bone.  It is used to pull the upper torso to the hips.  Key exercises to work this muscle are:


These muscles are on the side of the waist, and include the internal obliques, transverse obliques, and external obliques.  We use them to twist your torso.  Key exercises to work these muscles are:


The intercostals are between the side of the rib cage. It is used when you flex the torso and twist from side to side.  Basically, this is the muscle group that elevates and depresses your ribs.  Some key exercises to work these muscles are:


This muscle is found between your front abs (rectus abdominus) and latissimus dorsi - the muscles that wrap around the back of your rib cage.  Their job is to pull the scapula (shoulder) forward and around like in the motion of throwing a punch.  Some key exercises to work these muscles are:

There are lots of variations to these exercises too!  Using benches - incline or horizontal, using dumbbells or barbells or kettlebells, doing single arm / leg or double arm / leg.

I also read that you don't need to do heaps of reps like we used to be told.  No need to do 100 situps!  You can do three sets of 8-15 reps, with short rests in between, to really help build muscle.

Now I just have to pull this into some kind of sequence ... oh, and do it regularly! :)

What is your favourite abdominal exercise?  Why?  Do you do core strengthening work regularly?  

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