If you are tired of the same ab exercises that you always see in fitness magazines, training your abs from an upright position can give your workout a fresh perspective. Since you often move and play in a standing position, doing countless situps and crunches on the floor can even be counterproductive to your athletic performance. Consult your physician before beginning any new exercise routine especially if you experience any back pain.
Training your abs shouldn't involve isolating just those muscles. Different layers of abdominal muscles perform different roles in movement. They are part of your core muscles -- including your hips, back and parts of your thighs in addition to your abdominals -- that work together like musicians in a rock band to produce a hit song. The deep abdominal muscles assist in belly breathing and provide support for your body to maintain balance and resist the pull of gravity. The outer muscles, including your rectus abdominus (the "six-pack") and obliques, provide movement in different directions.The best ab exercises are those that involve your entire body.
Kneeling Chop and Lift
Although the chop and lift won't make your abs burn like chili sauce, it works all of your ab muscles, especially the deep ones. The chop involves moving your arm down and across your body diagonally, while the lift involves moving your arm up and across your body. By not moving your torso during the exercise, your core is working to anchor your body in place to allow more freedom of movement in your shoulders and arms. To do the chop, set the height of the handle on a cable machine to the highest level. Kneel on the floor and hold the cable with two hands. Chop down and diagonally toward your hip without rotating your torso. To do the lift, set the height of the handle to the lowest level and assume the same position as the chop. Grab the handle with both hands and move your hands up and across your body toward your head. Do each exercise for three sets of eight to 10 reps per side. For the chop, set the weight to about 20 to 30 pounds. For the lift, set it to 15 to 25 pounds.
Explosive power comes from your core, and overhead throwing requires your deep abdominal muscles to brace your torso during the movement. When you hold a ball over and slightly behind your head, your outer abs stretch slightly to generate force. As you throw, they contract and work with your deep ab muscles to protect your organs. Stand about 10 to 12 feet away from a sturdy wall and hold a 6-pound medicine ball over your head. Take two steps forward quickly and throw the ball at the wall at the same time. Catch the ball after it bounces off the wall and then the ground once. Do three sets of eight to 10 reps.
Twisting movements also work your entire core, especially your back extensors and obliques. Stand with your feet about shoulder-distance apart and hold a 6-pound medicine ball in front of you. Turn your torso to your right as you swing the ball to your right. Pivot your left foot and hip as you turn. Then turn your torso to your left as you swing the ball to your left. Pivot your right foot and hip as you turn. Perform three sets of 10 to 20 swings.
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