Before we get into theexercises, let’s be clear on something. The main purposes of the abs and other “core” muscles are NOT to make you look good on the beach, but rather to help stabilize your spine, set and maintain a solid lumbar-pelvic relationship and resist motion when we’re stationary (standing, sitting, etc.) or moving so that we can maintain optimal and non-damaging positions. And while health and performance should be the aims of incorporating “core” work, if you also have an aesthetic goal to get “ripped” or “shredded” so that your abs are visible, just doing a million crunches isn’t going to get the job done. In fact, you’ll need to move more and tailor your eating habits to adjust the energy in vs. energy out balance enough to get down to 10 percent body fat or below. That said, here are three exercises that can help you better engage the muscles needed for that first set of health-related purposes, as well as helping you achieve your “look good” aims:
Toes to Bar
Exactly what it sounds like. This gymnastics-derived move is a frequent part of CrossFit WODs because it not only requires core control and strength, but also pulls in your ability to organize your shoulders in an overhead position and hinge without your trunk collapsing like an imploding star. To do the toes to bar:
—Stand under a pullup bar and reach both arms overhead
—Being sure to put your pinkies over the bar and lock your thumb around it, grab the bar with an overhand grip
—Point your toes and squeeze your butt, and pin your shoulder blades back and down
—Rock your pelvis backward so you swing a few inches back behind the bar, while maintaining your grip
—Counter-swing forwards and explode from the hips
—Use the momentum to swing your legs up until your toes touch the bar
—Being sure to maintain hollow body position (toes pointed, body arched like a banana but stable), swing back to the position in step 4
—Repeat as many times as you can while keeping your form solid
Check out this video to see toes to bar in action.
Hollow Rock See-Saw
As we just mentioned, the hollow body position is fundamental to optimal movement. To test the integrity of this position, you can add some movement to the equation with the hollow rock see-saw. Here’s how:
—Lie down on your back
—Keeping your legs straight, raise your feet a few inches and point your toes
—Extend your arms behind your ears and raise the top of your torso off the ground until your shoulder blades are no longer in contact with it
—Hold the position for 20 seconds. If you can’t do it, then you need to just work on sets of your longest hold for a couple of weeks until you can.
—Once you can maintain the hold for 20 seconds, let’s add some movement. Hold the step #3 position but tilt your body forward by pushing your legs down (keeping them straight)
—Teeter totter backward until your shoulder blades almost touch the floor, but not quite
—Rock back to the position in step 5 and repeat for 20 to 30 up-and-down rocking cycles. Too easy? Then add more volume or decrease the rest between sets. You can also pull your knees toward your chest and hold them there (like you were doing a knee raise from a pullup bar) instead of fully extending your legs.
Watch this video to nail the hollow rock
So called because it mirrors the position you need to take while crawling up a snowy face – minus the actual exposure to extreme weather and risk of death – the mountain climber requires both stability and motion. You can also scale it by increasing the speed and by changing the direction your legs move from forward and back to across your body to target the obliques (side abs). Here’s the low-down:
—Get yourself into the top of the pushup positon. Make sure your shoulders are positioned above your hands and your forearms are vertical.
—Screw your hands into the ground (left hand counter-clockwise, right hand clockwise) to create stabilizing torque at the shoulder
—Lift your right foot and move it forward until your right knee crosses your belt line
—Return to the starting position and repeat with your left foot. Start with 10 reps on each side. On the next set, try crossing the knee toward the opposite hip.
Dial in your mountain climber technique with this video
Source: The Inertia