Ok, so I’m assuming that by this point you can hold the Hollow Hold for a minute, or close to that. If not, then you should probably focus on that, and perhaps add a few of these, but I use the Hollow Hold as a measuring stick to know where your ab strength is at, and to give you the practice pulling in your ribs, because that is actually the shape you want to have for a plank or for pushups…
Hollow Hold with Arm Lift Sit on floor in Hollow Hold position (described in an earlier post). Since you can hold for 60 seconds with arms down by knees, bring arms up so hands are at ears and arms are bent. Pull elbows back so they are in line with shoulders. (It should feel like you just made “wings”). Now work on holding the hollow. Start with 10 seconds and work your way up to a minute. I’m betting a lot of money at this point that you sat up a bit. Lean back. Round your chest/shoulders in again. Go back to the basic position, then slowly bring up your arms…don’t fall….
Crunches: Here’s another one that most people do wrong. The point of a crunch is NOT to use the hips as a pivot and bounce up and down. Most people do this, especially on a stability ball, which simply shows that your butt/hips can bend. Great. But that’s not ab work. Lie down on your back on the floor with legs bent and feet flat on the floor. (Do not tuck your feet under something; that only brings in leg muscles.) Bring hands up to collarbone as if you are adjusting a shirt/collar (arms bent, hands in middle/front of chest). Squeeze abs downward as if you are pushing — labor? a bowel movement? (gross, I know, but it’s roughly the same muscles involved). THEN WHILE STILL PUSHING DOWNWARD lift chest up off ground about 3 -5 inches. Do NOT look at your belly while doing it; keep head neutral. All crunches should really be a four-step process. Squeeze, lift, come down, relax.
If you’re doing it right, it won’t really matter how strong you get, since an isometric is involved. The stronger you get, the stronger you will squeeze, so you will still get tired quickly.
The goal here is 25 – 30. At that point you should be feeling those abs. If not, squeeze harder and make sure you are lifting WHILE squeezing.
Arch ups: Many people focus on abs as “core”, forgetting about the back. Lie on the floor on your stomach. Keep your head neutral, looking at the floor. Place your arms at your sides/hips on the floor, with palms touching the ground. Again, this is a multi-step process: 1. squeeze butt cheeks together 2. Lift shoulders together (as if you are squeezing your shoulderblades together) and lift your chest/upper body up off floor. Make sure you are still looking at the ground — don’t lift/arch your head/neck. Make sure your toes are still on the ground. We are lifting the upper body, not the legs as well. 3. Relax and return to the ground.
Again, try for 25 – 30, though you’ll start with 15-20.
Side Sit-ups: Lie on your back as if you are doing Crunches. Then slowly drop both knees to one side while still bent. Your back will be twisting, and depending on how flexible you are, you may have a shoulder lift off the ground a bit. The goal is to keep both shoulders on the floor. So your bent legs will be to one side, and your upper body will be mostly flat on the ground. Then squeeze abs and attempt to sit up. You may need to extend your arms and “reach” towards your feet. Do 10 – 15 per side.
I will try to post a video link to these shortly.