We all want great ABS! Don’t get me wrong…the ABS curl, or “crunch”, is a great exercise for toning your ABS. However, most of us are doing them wrong and may not see the “slimness” we are looking for.
Strong ABS are key to good posture—and good posture is sexy. More importantly, strong ABS are key to good performance. For a little kinesiology here: our ABS are the key muscle group of our CORE–aligning and stabilizing our torso so we can move with ease and do our favorite activities like skiing. Also, I like to point out the mind/body/spirit benefits of fitness. So here it is–strengthening our Core has the psychological effect of strengthening our self-esteem…how do I know? Slouch for a moment and notice how you feel. Now stand tall in good posture and see if you notice a positive difference.
So how to get flatter ABS, you ask? When doing ABS curls most people try to see how far up off the floor they can bring their head and shoulders and also try to impress themselves with 100s of reps. The problem is the faster you curl and the higher up you come, the more likely your ABS push out. They can become a bit rounded as result. Rather than trying to come up high in a curl it is better to focus on how far down, or how flat, you can press your ABS-Wall* toward your spine while you curl. I call this technique Activated Position (AP-see below). The key is to move through the curl slowly and fluidly and not to come up any higher once you see your ABS begin to push out. When done properly, you should fatigue much, much faster. With the right form and technique it only takes a few sets of reps to get the best conditioning.
You can see this series of ABS exercises on the Queen Is You Exercise page.
Part 1—Activated Position-AP
- AP is the ‘posture’ you hold while doing your curls—once you put your body into “activated position” you will not release from it until you have finished all your curls.
- Lie on the floor with your knees bent and both feet flat on the floor. (Step 1)
- Place your hands behind your head—your hands are only to cradle for your head and neck. Be careful not to pull on your head at any time. Your ABS do all the work. (Step 1)
- KEGEL is KEY (we will highlight the KEGEL in a future post). Contract your Kegel muscles and feel the floor of your pelvis become tight. Then feel this contraction sensation draw up inside your torso from your pelvic floor toward your navel as if you were closing a zipper and zipping it up. You will feel your lower pelvis muscles (lower belly) flatten and even create a slight pelvic tilt–tailbone begins to slightly lift off the floor. (Step 1)
- Holding the Kegel contraction, flatten your ABS Wall* by compressing your navel to the floor. You will feel the front of your torso flatten and your pubic bone pulling toward your breastbone and your breastbone pulling toward your pubic bone. As a result your head and upper back come slightly up off the floor. Be sure not to pull your head up with your arms. Let the work in your ABDS dictate how far you come up by how far they flatten down. (Step 1)
Part 2—Adding the ABS Curl
- Holding the AP position, curl your torso a bit more—bring your pubic bone toward your breastbone and your breastbone toward you pubic bone a bit more by flattening your ABS Wall a bit more. The curl will be very small. Remember the Key is to come up only as high as you can while your ABS stay flat. As soon as they begin to push out, you have gone too far. (Step 1,2,3)
- Do as many reps or curls as you can without releasing AP until you become fatigued–do 3 sets of * reps through Steps 1,2,3. Then release all contractions and tension and relax completely–Step 4. After a 30-45 second rest, try another set. 3 sets of 8 reps–each rep through Steps 1,2,3–should tire you out completely. Keep in mind it is NOT about how many reps you do but rather about proper form and technique and holding AP through each rep.
ON-THE-GO FITNESS TIP: You can work on conditioning your ABS all day long by practicing Activated Position anywhere–at your desk, in a board meeting, in your car, in the grocery line! Standing/sitting tall, do a Kegel contraction and flatten your ABS Wall by pressing your naval toward your spine. And be sure to take a moment to focus on how much better and more confident you feel when you stand/sit in good posture as compared to when you slouch. You think more clearly, communicate better and become more productive. YAY! for the power of fitness!
Please let me know if you like this POST and especially write me any questions or comments you might have. I would love to hear from you!
Enjoy a more balanced, stable, powerful you!!