Seven Ways to Chiseled Abs
It’s time to say “See ya!” to the sit-up.
By Matt Bralick, FitMe Wellness
The most universally hated abdominal exercise of all-time has to be the sit-up. Digging your tailbone into the ground over and over again and wrenching your neck in an feeble attempt to help your abs do the seemingly impossible task of gracefully pulling your shoulders up to your knees . . . this is the best old-timey fitness experts could give us?
For all of that pain, sit-ups only work the abdominals in two directions, and do not engage your obliques or transverse abdominis, limiting the amount of core strength that you’re truly building. It’s important to build a core routine that doesn’t require the sacrifice of back pain for ab gains, so here are some core exercises that will allow you to say “See ya!” to the sit-up.
Planks and Side Planks
Planks are possibly both the least challenging and most challenging core-specific exercise, both physically and mentally. From an extended push-up position, go down to your elbows, keeping them in line with your shoulders. Keep your back straight, butt down, and remember to breathe! Hold for one minute.
From the plank position, shift your weight so that you are resting on your dominant arm. Twist your entire body so that your other shoulder points towards the ceiling, maintaining a straight line from your shoulders to your feet. Hold for one minute, switch sides, and then repeat! Again, remember to breathe!
Crunches with Pulses
Start by lying flat on your back with your feet flat on the floor (or elevated in the air with knees bent). Perform small contractions of your abdominal muscles to raise and lower your torso a few inches, keeping your hands behind your head for comfort to offer slight support (no pulling!). Aim for about 100 crunches.
Another variation of these is to start by sitting on the floor, knees bent and feet tucked under a couch. Sit up straight and slowly lower your your torso back until it creates a wide V-shape with your legs. Stop in this position and begin to make small pulsations with your upper body for one minute.
These will not only work on your core strength; they will also improve your balance. Start by sitting on a mat with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place one hand behind each knee, slowly lean back, lifting your feet to a hover, a few inches off the ground. When you find the sweet spot where you are balanced, try to extend your legs into a straight position, forming a V-shape with your body. Hold for 10 counts.
Begin this move in the same wide V-shape as V Holds. Swing both arms over to your right side and twist your torso to follow. Pulse in this position, making small twists to the right, and back to center. Switch sides to the left and repeat. Aim for 10 reps on each side to start.
A time-tested classic, these help to engage the oblique muscles. Start by lying on your back, knees bent, feet in the air. Interlace your fingers behind your head for gentle support, and start circling your legs in a bicycle-like motion, bringing opposite elbow to knee. Continue for one minute.
Lie on your back, feet in the air, legs straight. Place arms slightly out to your sides for support. Maintaining control, drop both legs over to the right, reaching for the ground. Keep your hips still and facing up toward the ceiling. Bring the legs back to center, then drop them over to the left side. Bring them back to center again, and repeat 10 times.
Lying on your back, legs straight, tuck your hands under the small of your back for support. With your legs straight and together, raise feet off the floor toward the ceiling. In a controlled manner, lower legs back towards the floor, without arching your back. Repeat 10 times. •