WARNING: ab exercises can be hard on your neck and shoulders so be sure to 1) stay relaxed and 2) imagine your neck straightening and your head pulling up and out of your shoulders. At the same time you should feel your shoulder blades lowering away from your neck. Imagine that you are spreading your shoulders apart and lengthening your spine at the same time while you keep rule #1 in mind which was of course….RELAX.
One of the most effective exercises for your abs is the bicycle. Studies show that these movements effectively target both the abdominis and and the oblique muscles.
Lie flat on the floor and press your lower back into the floor. Place your hands beside your head. (Do NOT clasp your hands behind your head as this will increase your chances of placing stress on your neck) Raise your knees to approximately 45 degree angle and slowly touch your left elbow to your right knee (while straightening your left leg), then your right elbow to your left knee. (while straightening your right leg)
1. Lift your shoulder blades off the floor too, not just your head and neck
2. I usually try to picture a string pulling my forehead straight up to the ceiling.
3. Look up not forward.
One of my favorite exercises for your stomach is the full vertical crunch. Not only does this exercise work your abs but it also trains your core for explosive movements which will help almost any activity that you are involved in.
Lie flat on your back and settle your lower back into the floor. Place your hands beside your head and engage the abdominal muscles. Slowly raise your knees till your legs are at a 90 degree angle to your body. Now straighten your legs so you feet are pointing up. Slowly raise your shoulder blades off of the floor and at the same time press your heels toward the ceiling.
1. Your body creates a “U” shape during this exercise.
2. Make sure you look up and raise your forehead to the ceiling. (Watch Your Neck)
If you really want to push your ab workout to a new level try an exercise ball. When doing exercises on the floor the legs come into play but doing ab exercises on a ball makes the abs work more and the legs work less. Most traditional ab exercises that are done on the floor can be done on a ball with some slight modifications and they usually are more effective on the ball.
Lie flat on the ball and position the ball under your lower back. Either cross your arms over your chest or place your hands beside your head. Slowly contract you abs and lift your entire upper body off of the exercise ball. Slowly lower your body back onto the ball and roll your back into a slight back bend. This will help stretch your muscles as you exercise.
1. Do NOT let the ball roll under you. It should stay in one place
2. Picture pulling the bottom of your ribcage down into your hips.
3. The more air a ball has in it the harder the exercise will be.