Training abs is thought of as something as simple as crunches, sit ups, and twists, but your abs do much more than that.
The abs, obliques, and lower back muscles work together to give your spine the strength it needs to lift weights than are comparable to picking up an entire herd of infants. Infants come in herds, right? Roughly 20-30 infants is considered a herd in my books.
Your abs do a lot. A lot.
As an example, they're involved in squatting, deadlifting, rows, and bench press in some way or another. They just hold your spine together under a series of heavy stresses, but that's no big deal. They also look cool when you get really lean.
But let's talk about the part where you can make them look better and help yourself not get hurt doing other stuff.
A good starting point for most people, if they're not already living in a hunched position, is the deadbug.
The ideal deadbug will be slow, controlled, and almost robotic looking. Here's an example:
The trouble most people have with this version is the control portion. It may come down to simply not understanding the mechanics of the movement or they could be struggling with "feeling" the abs working in the exercise.
The rib cage and lower back will ideally stay pressed into the ground or mat below while the leg moves outward. The opposing leg doesn't move until the first leg comes back to the starting position.
This technique eliminates the likeliness of the hip rolling forward and pulling the lower back into an extended or upwardly curved position.
That should help improve the technique and you feel your abs working harder while doing the deadbug. If you still can't feel anything, add a kettlebell into the mix.
The kettlebell adds downward pressure onto the rib cage, helping you push your back into the ground causing the abs to contract harder in a shortened position.
Some technique pointers to consider:
- Place the kettlebell over the breastbone instead of the face (for obvious reasons) and by placing it further down the rib cage, you get pulled forward slightly making the distance between the ribs and hips smaller. This is one of the main purposes of the rectus abdominis (the 6 pack muscle).
- Extend one leg at a time
- Pause for 1 second at the fully extended position
- Keep the opposing knee pressed towards the chest, but not letting the hip roll back
- Pause again when back at the starting point to reset
James Harris is the founder of Titanium Strength Systems, as well as the head writer and coach. He trains online and in person in Chilliwack, BC. For more info on James, read the "Meet the Staff" page.
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