Lastly we have the obliques which help rotate the body from side to side and help you bend from side to side mmmm oblique crunches. They also are key in helping you balance when you perform exercises on a single leg. My top three are oblique crunches, saxon side bends, and rocky twists off of a stability ball.
Oblique crunches can be done off of a roman chair or stability ball. Lie on your side, with your hips positioned at the top of the ball. Stretch over the ball to “load” the muscles. Place your hand by your chest and proceed to like you would lying on your back, but instead you are on your side. Inhale down, and exhale at top. Go about three-quarters of the way up, hold for two seconds and lower back down slowly. Once your done with one side, switch and do the other side. To increase difficulty, raise you hands out overhead a little more. Next is saxon side bend, hold two light dumbbells just a little overhead.
Keep your abs in and knees a little bent. Proceed to lean oblique crunches to the right as far as you comfortably can. Pause and come back up. Exhale and lean to the left and repeat the same movement. This exercise also works the quadratus lumborum, a deep low back muscle that is often tight and weak on most people. You may experience a little soreness the next day or two after you do these. It’s okay, as long as there isn’t any sharp pain. And lastly the rocky twists: You may need a partner, or a way to fasten your feet. Sit on a ball lean back a little, push your hips forward so that your butt is underneath you. Hold a medicine ball or weight out in front of you, and proceed to rotate to the right. Pause for two seconds and then come back to straight position and exhale. Inhale and rotate to the left, just like as you did to the right. Make it harder by extending your arms out more, or adding more weight.
As far as repetitions are concerned, try to work in the 8-15 range. Recent oblique crunches research suggests you’ll do more benefit with heavier weight and lower reps then with extremely high reps and very light weights. Be very cautious though that you don’t put your spine in a position where it can be damaging. Take your time and do the exercises properly before you add the weights and lower repetitions. You may want to do some higher reps for a while to get used to the movements and get your body accustomed to the training. I would recommend training the abs 2-3 days per week MAXIMUM. They need rest and recovery like your other muscles. Next time I am going to cover something called stabilization for your “core” area. The core are the deep muscles that go from the neck to the navel, front and back. They are vital in giving your body function and health, particularly the spine.
Brian A. Gurneak is a Master Level Personal Trainer with over a dozen year in the exercise/fitness arena. He specializes in group and individual training and has been a drug-free competitive bodybuilder since 1994 and professional fitness model. For further information visit http://www.completephysique.info