THE “BATTLE OF THE BULGE”
This was a significant battle in World War II and I don’t mean to mock it or underestimate its importance. It’s just that millions of people of all ages, ethnicities, nationalities and genders are fighting a waist line battle every day. It’s worth the fight for these reasons:
- To reduce back pain
- For better posture
- To build overall strength
- To improve sports performance
- For better balance
Here are some more reasons to build a strong core. Actually, they are infinite, or seem so.
- You will live longer
- You will support your spine better
- Your self – image and confidence will improve
- As a senior, you will be less likely to fall
- You will burn more calories when resting
- Less fat around the waist will decrease your chances of developing heart disease or high blood pressure
- You will lessen stress on joints – hips, ankles, knees
- You will be less likely to develop a hiatus hernia
- Pregnant women will have less difficulty with labor and post – pregnancy recovery
THE “SIX PACK”
We are not speaking of beer (which may be more to the point than it may seem). Take a look at the “washboard” abdominal region of the above lady.
This is the ultimate look of core muscularity. It comes from a program of muscle development, good nutrition and cardio training. My next article will highlight cardio training more specifically. Think of working out your heart, lungs and circulatory system – running, walking, bicycling, etc.
I personally like to work my “abs” every day without fail. My waist line has decreased to the point that I am discarding old pants and shorts – in more than one time period in the last few years. Actually, I take them to Goodwill or similar organizations, one of which comes by to pick up items at my front door.
My main goal is to develop the iconic “six pack”. I am almost there and only need to lose about 5 -6 pounds to meet this goal, or so I tell myself. This is not easy since I am also told that this becomes increasingly difficult with aging because we retain subcutaneous fat more readily. My research tells me that older people even in their forties can still develop a six pack. Thanks for nothing!! (I am somewhat older than that).
This is what a male six pack looks like.
Here is an image of abdominal anatomy. For purposes of the ensuing paragraphs, I will simply make reference to upper abdominals, lower abdominals and external obliques (the side muscles that are sometimes referred to as “love handles”.
Here is my favorite bodyweight program for abs, especially the lower abs. This only takes 6 minutes. I have been doing this daily for over a year. It is a high – intensity 6 minutes, so don’t underestimate it.
In my opinion, the third movement, called the Butterfly Crunch, is the best part of this routine. My ribs were sore from the “Butterfly Crunch” after I did it for the first time. But the real value of this 6 minute routine is the intensity of going at full speed for the entire set of movements. You are allowed a 10 second rest after each of the first 5 sets. After the 6th, you may want to go to bed for the rest of the day (only if you are a beginner, and I am not serious).
The Bicycle – lie on the floor, with hands behind your head, legs straight and slightly raised. Bring one knee up and touch that knee with the opposite elbow. Then alternate with the other side.
Leg raise – lie on the floor with legs out straight in front. Raise your legs, then engage your hips to drive your knees over your head. This is the same exercise as the second set in the 6 minute program above, called the Reverse Curl.
Plank – lie on the floor, on your toes and forearms. Hold that position, with tight core. This is an isometric exercise. Try for 30 seconds as a beginner.
Plank crawl – from the above plank position, move by little steps by your toes and forearms. Forward, backward and sideways.
Knee to elbow – lie on the surface and support yourself by your hands and toes, arms straight. Bring one knee up to the opposite elbow and hold briefly. Then do the same with the other side.
Twists – sit in a comfortable chair. Facing forward, twist from one side to the other. Do as many reps as you can, building up slowly. I do at least 100 of these. They can be done quickly. This is for the external obliques.
Side plank – see the below image. Form a “T” position by placing one hand on the floor, palm down. Raise the other hand as shown. Tighten up your core as you stay put for a few seconds. Then repeat with the other side. This works the external obliques.
Russian twist – sit on the floor, knees slightly bent and back at 45 degrees. Place the resistance cord over both feet and hold handles (or the cords) with tension. Then twist your core to one side and hold briefly. Then twist to the other side. Keep facing forward as you twist. This works the external obliques.
Torso twist – stand with the center of your cord beneath your feet. Feet at shoulder width, hands gripping the handles and raising to shoulder height. Then twist side to side. This is also to engage the external obliques.
Seated crunches – attach the resistance cord to a sturdy door (always buy the door attachment when purchasing resistance cords). Attach toward the top of the door. Sit on an exercise ball, ottoman or small bench, facing away from the door. Bring each handle across your shoulders and grip in front of your chest. Pull downward as you bend at the waist. This is for the upper abdominals.
Here is a great source for resistance cords at a reasonable price. Note other options also, but be sure to include the door attachment.
Overhead side bend – hold a dumbbell overhead in your right hand. Place your left hand on your left hip. Bend to your left, keeping the right arm straight. Feel the tension in your right external oblique. Then return to your starting position. Use a light weight, 5 – 10 pounds. Do a couple of sets for each side.
Plank dumbbell switch – begin in a high plank position (straight arms, palms on floor, on toes). Place a dumbbell outside your left hand position. Grab it with your right hand and place it to your right hand side. Then grab it with your left hand and place it back to your left hand side. Keep alternating like this for a minute. Keep back straight. See images below.
Butterfly crunch with weight – on floor, with knees bent and hands behind neck, shoulders slight above the surface….hold a small dumbbell in both hands. Then raise your knees and your upper body together. This movement is shown without a weight in the link in my third heading above, “BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES”. It is the third set in that sequence. It is tough without added weight. Be prepared when using weight.
Seated crunch – this is one that I do, though it isn’t listed in the Bullworker manual. Sit in a wooden chair, with the Steel Bow positioned vertically between your legs. Press down from the top handle and hold briefly. Be sure to use the nonslip pad at the base of the Steel Bow. Use the resistance spring appropriate for your level of progress. Do reps until you get tired. I do at least 50 with the medium spring. Bullworkers are versatile. This one works for me.
Seated lower ab raise – this is another one that I do, specifically for the lower abs. Sit in a chair with the nonslip pad securely placed on one knee and the lower handle of the Steel Bow placed vertically on that knee. Raise that knee against the resistance for 10 – 12 reps. Then repeat with the other knee.
Upright resisted crunch – with knees on the floor and back straight, place the Bow Classic away from your body and in a vertical position, lower handle on the nonslip pad. With straight arms, press downward on the upper handle for 10 – 12 reps.
Bullworker offers a myriad of strength building exercises and quality products. Here is the entire Bullworker line.
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