You don't need fancy gadgets or a gym membership to get your abs and obliques stronger. With resistance tubing -- simply a strong, elastic rubber tube with handles on each end -- you can do exercises that move your body in different directions, giving your core a challenge that you do not get from doing traditional abs exercises.
Horizontal rotations work on your balance and center of gravity. Tie the middle part of the tubing to a sturdy hook fixed to a wall at about the height of your chest. Stand with the right side of your body facing the hook and with your feet about shoulder-distance apart. Grab the tubing's handle in each hand and pull the tubing by turning your torso to your left, pivoting your right hip and foot at the same time. Perform three sets of eight to 10 reps per side.
Stationary Chop and Lift
The stationary chop and lift work on core stability while moving your arms in diagonal patterns across your body. The more stable your core is, the more force you can produce and control, says West Virginia-based physical therapist Gray Cook, co-founder of Functional Movement Systems. Loop the middle of the tubing to a hook secured on a wall about one foot above your head. Grab the handles in each hand and kneel on the floor, with your right side of your body facing the hook. Pull down and diagonally toward your hip without rotating your torso. For the lift, loop the middle of the tubing to a wall hook secured near the floor. 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. For each exercise, do two to three sets of eight to 12 reps.
Dynamic Chop and Lift
The dynamic version of the chop and lift involves turning your torso and moving your hip and legs at the same time. Your obliques work with other muscles in your torso and hip to turn while the deep abs muscles keep your balance and alignment. Using the same setup as the stationary chop and lift, do each exercise from a standing position with your legs about hip-distance apart. When you do the chop, turn your torso to your left as you pull down and across your body to your left hip. Pivot your right hip and foot at the same time. The same concept applies when you do the lift. Do two to three sets of eight to 12 reps per side.
Push and Pull
Besides moving your torso, your abs and obliques stabilize your body when you perform pushing and pulling movements. Loop the middle of the tubing around a wall hook at chest height. To do the push, grasp the handles in each hand and face away from the hook. Stand with one foot in front, exhale and push the band in front of you. You should feel your abs automatically brace to keep you upright. Inhale and gradually bring your hands close to your armpits with your elbows close to your body. To do the pull, face the hook and stand with one foot behind you. Grasp a handle in each hand, exhale and pull the handles toward your armpits, drawing your shoulder blades together. Inhale and extend your arms in front of you. For each exercise, perform two to three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
- Essence of Program Design; Juan Carlos Santana
- Functional Movement Systems: Introduction to the Chop and Lift
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.