You may want to check if you have been doing a certain exercise correctly. Unfortunately, so many people waste their time with exercise simply because they aren’t doing an exercise correctly, not to mention risking personal injury.
I have been in the health and fitness industry for the past 18 years and to help you get it right, I will talk you through the exercise in the way I would instruct a client. Try it out and make sure you feel it in the right places. Maybe even practice an exercise in front of the mirror.
The most abused exercises in my experience are abdominal exercises. First and foremost, don’t work your abdominals 100 times a week and then ignore anything to do with your posture. Your abdominals are being trained continuously as you pull in your tummy muscles when walking or sitting. This is an essential basis for doing a good abdominal exercise.
Basic abdominal crunches – A workout for Abs (effective for beginners and people whom exercise regularly). This exercise covers a lot of the basic instructions essential to make an abdominal exercise effective.
Lie with your back on a mat. Have your feet flat on the floor and pull the heels as closely as possible towards your buttocks (this cuts out using your hip-flexors and now enable you to use your abdominal muscles only). Support the head with one hand whilst you slide your other hand towards your knee. Before doing anything pull your tummy muscles in (as if you are trying to do up a tight pair of jeans or “pull your belly button to spine”) and then contract your pelvic floor muscles.
Slide your hand towards your knee on a strong out-breath and repeat ten times. Reach for your maximum point each time. After 10 reps change your hands over. Rest and repeat the whole set 3 times. If you want to increase the intensity increase the repetitions or add 10 tiny pumps on the top of the last contraction.
Abdominal muscles: there are various abdominal muscles. The ones that run across your middle horizontally like a belt are called the transversus abdominals. Those are ones you want to pull in as often as you can to support your back and posture. The ones in your waist are called your obliques and they function as rotators and make you bend to the side. Don’t work these too much. Lastly, there is your rectus abdominis, which runs across the front of your body from the bottom of your chest bone (sternum) to your pelvis (pubic symphysis).
Basic Plank (for beginners, or people with back/posture problems):
If at all possible lie sideways on to a mirror on your front. Bend your knees, bringing the feet towards your buttocks and cross your feet. Place the elbows underneath the shoulders so you come up in a sphinx like position. When ready, balance the body on your elbows and knees, lifting the rest of the body away from the mat. It is essential that you pull in the abdominal muscles away from gravity. Keep your head in line and make sure you form a diagonal line from head to knees. Check your posture in the mirror whilst you hold this pose. If possible, hold for 10 seconds. Breathe! As you get stronger, elongate your time holding the position.