Abs From Hell Workout
Abs. Another way of saying "boredom".
You crunch and crunch. Shoulder into knee. Watch the hands
-- if you can see your elbows, you're pulling on your head! Pretend
you have an egg under your chin! Booooorrrring! However,
our clients want, almost to a woman or man, to do them after just about
any kind of class, be it step, aerobics, interval, whatever. And
it seems, sometimes, that we simply run out of ideas for making them interesting,
fun, and, above all, effective.
The Rectus Abdominis, like almost every other
muscle in the body, is composed not only of STO (Slow Twitch Oxidative)
fiber, but also of FTO (Fast Twitch Oxidative), and FTG (Fast Twitch Glycolytic),
fibers -- the "Strength" fibers. Why not approach working the RA
in much the same way we approach working every other muscle -- that is,
not just in endurance (STO) mode, but in strength (FTO/FTG) mode, as well?
Here's one way...
To provide a back-safe, challenging workout for
the Rectus Abdominis. Most people in average health, with no chronic
back problems, should be able to do the exercise without harm. Fatigue
should take place in fewer than 20 reps in any given mode, to properly
"hit" the FT muscle fiber.
This exercise is performed on a step bench with
one or two sets of risers. You will also need a pair of dumbbells
of a weight which will cause fatigue when doing biceps curls, at about
20 reps. For the leg-lift portion, you also need a medium-to-high
weight ExerTube or other similar handled surgical tubing. The handles
should be large enough to use as "stirrups" on the feet. You
may wish to use a mat of a size to fit the top of the step bench, or a
The Protocol - Leg Lift Portion:
1. Pass the ExerTube under the step bench, toward
one end of it.
2. Sit on the end of the bench and slip the handles
of the ExerTube over your feet like "stirrups".
3. Lie supine on the bench, get comfortable, upper
body is relaxed.
4. Extend the legs up, crossing them at the ankles,
if you find that more comfortable.
5. Press your heels toward the ceiling (pelvic tilt).
2 counts up, 2 counts down, for 8 reps.
6. Increase to 1 count up, 1 count down for 8
7. Change to 3 counts up, 1 count down for 8
8. Repeat from 5 ..7 for 2 more sets. Remove
the tubes and get ready for it!
The Protocol - Abs
From Hell! Portion:
Note: This exercise protocol is not
for beginners. Be certain that your clients are adequately advanced,
and understand how to modify all movements to suit their physical condition.
Show modifications using lighter, and no weight, and using only partial
ROM instead of the full sit-up. If you wish to use this protocol
with a less-experienced class, you might wish to use resistance tubing
passed under the bench as above, in place of the weight, and to only perform
the crunch, without going to full-upright position.
1. Lying supine on the step bench, put the soles
of your feet together and drop your knees wide apart. This keeps
the hip flexors pretty much out of the initial lift, and minimizes, to
some extent, the stresses on the lower back.
2. Using a weight which is significant for you (I suggest a dumbbell
which would cause fatigue in biceps curls at about 20 reps), hold the weight
in a modified "head-crusher" position, as shown.
3. Begin the crunch by lifting shoulders off the bench. Do
not extend the arms until the shoulders clear.
4. With the shoulders off the bench, extend the arms until they are
straight. This not only adds intensity to the crunch, it also works
the triceps quite nicely.
5. (Optional isometric hold of the abs, while the hip flexors
do most of the lift) -- Continue rotating the weight forward out over your
pelvic region. The weight will act as a counterbalance, allowing
you to perform a full sit-up, while minimizing strain on your back.
Be sure to maintain foot position, with the knees apart, as this will assist
some clients in minimizing tendencies to twist the body during the lift.
If you do not wish to have the class do the isometric part, simply reverse
to 3 - 2 - 1, and continue the crunches.
6. (Optional part) -- Once you have reached full sit-up position,
reverse the process: Lower the upper body, keeping arms extended
and the weight over the pelvic region. Then, with the shoulders held
off the bench, retract the weight to the modified "head-crusher" position.
Lastly, lower the shoulders to the bench.
Intensity Is The Key:
If the correct level of weight has been chosen, fatigue will set in
within 10 to 20 reps, to the point that the shoulders can no longer be
lifted off the bench. When that point is reached, put the weights
down and perform normal, un-weighted crunches for the remainder of the
session. Don't let the "die-hards" continue with lighter weight --
excessive crunches like this can cause sore lower backs - remind them that
you want them back in your class, uninjured!
The most intense form of this is to simply perform positions 1 and 2.
The triceps extensions and full sits are things you can do to add some
Options for Less-Experienced
You may replace the heavier weights with a single, lighter dumbbell,
perhaps held in one hand while the other hand supports the neck and cervical
spine. An ExerTube or Dynaband may be passed under the bench, over
the shoulders, and held just above the collarbone with one hand, in place
of the weights. Adjust the exercise appropriately to the fitness
level of your class, and to explain and demonstrate modifications!
Get 'Em While They're Hot!
The muscles, that is. Before you let your clients continue on
to the next step, have them stretch. I use the words, "Stretch it
out, long legs, long arms. Draw your abs in tight. Now, relax
and take a deep breath! Reach out a little further, now let it out
and stretch one more time..." Have them hold the stretch for 15 to
30 seconds, for best effect.
Soreness? You Bet!
The "Abs From Hell" protocol will cause DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle
Soreness) in the regions of the Rectus Abdominis, near both the upper and
lower attachments, particularly the upper, just under the sternum and ribs.
Be sure to tell your class to expect it, because the first time it happens,
it can be quite disconcerting!
Opposing Muscle Groups:
Since we're working the abs through full ROM, and using resistance
at a high percentage of 1RM to ensure hitting the FT fiber, it's a good
idea to also work the Erector Spinae. I suggest bent-over deadlifts,
using the same weight you used for the crunches. Don't overdo it
-- 5 or 6 reps are probably quite enough. Be absolutely certain that
your clients use proper form for this one, and that none of them have any
type of chronic back disability. If you're not certain, lose the
weights and use resistance tubing, or nothing at all.
Click Here For Free World Fitness Magazine Subscription
© 1997 - 2015 WorldFitness.org
Site Map 1 | Site Map 2 | Site Map 3