KNOW HOW TO CREATE CORE WORK EVERY DAY
Know how to create core work every day, is part of a calisthenic movement series, running on the Live Fat and Fit blog. It will explain crunches, sit ups and how you can add simple core work to every single day!
THE ABS PURPOSE
Your abdominals are a group of 4 muscles that sit between your ribs and pelvic floor. They are in the front of the body and have 4 really important tasks. Learning how to do one of these tasks really well, will isolate the core and give you core work you can do every day.
Your abs ….
- Support your trunk (imagine your spine without them).
- Allow movement of your trunk (no muscles, no movement).
- Hold your organs in place (internal abdominal pressure).
- Abdominal muscles participate in the breathing process (pushing upwards on your diaphragm muscles).
TO SIT UP OR CRUNCH?
Sit ups and crunches are both effective ways to work your core. Over the years, we hear less about sit ups because they have a higher risk of neck strain. Sit ups, are without a doubt, a FULL abdominal workout, as you reach way down into your abdominal muscles to sit yourself up.
If you have not worked your core before, starting with crunches is the best choice!
SIMPLE AND UNCOMPLICATED
Crunches can be simple and straight up OR they can be modified, to work you abs in many ways.
The basic crunch is best performed while lying flat, knees bent and arms in a comfortable position. I hesitate at the beginning to tell people to put their arms behind their head, because the tendency is to pull yourself up too quickly, with the arms and strain your neck. Look WAY up towards the ceiling, keep your nose pointed up, tighten your abs from bottom to top, hold them there, BREATHE and use them to lift your upper body up off the floor. This may only be a centimetre at first, but this will increase, as you gain strength. Your first attempts may feel like you are only lifting from mid back and up and that is okay TOO!
The lift comes from the tightened abs and lifting, while NOT CURVING your spine. Keep your body straight from hips up.
When you feel you have the basic crunch mastered and have built yourself up to 2 sets of 12 reps, then you can start adding variations for both added muscle work and fun! There are many variations available that can be easily found online. I like Health.com’s 5 Crazy-Effective Crunch Variations. All are done without equipment and easily modified. They even show you standing core work.
Full sit ups take progressive work, ensuring that you are being very careful with your neck. Keep your entire core tight when doing sit ups. You can start with you feet under something to help you to isolate your abs for your sit up. First time, grab your hamstrings from the back and come up, but BE sure to release slowly, as this is part of the workout! Getting abdominal control on your release, will help you towards being able to execute a full sit up carefully. You can put your hands extended over your head, moving them forward towards your knees, in line with your upper body, as you sit up, giving you momentum, but you REALLY need to protect your neck. Baby steps and persistence will keep you safe.
Take a look at this man’s neck, he is watching a computer screen for guidance, BUT, it is causing him to bend his neck during his sit up. This was chosen as an example of what NOT to do! If you can not isolate your neck properly and keep it straight, then DO NOT DO sit ups. Crunches and other exercises, will work your core very well!
THE ABDOMINAL WORK YOU CAN DO ANYWHERE …
Every single day you must breathe. In order to breathe, we activate our core abdominal muscles. We can learn to do this MINDFULLY and build abdominal strength and control, while we are breathing …ANY WHERE, ANY TIME!
Go back into the Live Fat and Fit Blog and read an article entitled The Breathe And The Core. Our breath is such a powerful and useful tool. Obviously, we need to draw oxygen in to live, BUT, learning to manipulate the way we take in air, can help to calm us too. IT CAN ALSO help us to control our abdominal muscles, so as to strengthen them. I will not repeat the details here. GO! READ! Learn about how you can work your abs while at work or anywhere else for that matter.
Practice tightening your abdominal muscles, from bottom to top, while breathing. Learn to push out more air and feel your abs move, as you fill and empty your lungs!