This month we will be keeping tabs on your New Years Resolutions, in
order to empower you, help you to stay on track and give you some
great tips for keeping your promise to yourself.
Empowering Resolutions: How To Do A Proper Sit Up
The proper sit up can be easy and very effective in strengthening
your abdominal core.
The Abdominals are composed of several muscles: the Rectus Abdominus,
Transverse Abdominus, and the External and Internal Obliques. The
Abdominal muscles sit on the front and sides of the lower half of the
torso, originating along the rib cage and attaching along the pelvis.
The Rectus Abdominus flex the spine (bringing the rib cage closer to
the pelvis). This is seen in the abdominal crunching movement. The
Transverse Abdominus acts as a natural weight belt, keeping your
insides in. This muscle is essential for trunk stability. The
Internal and External Obliques work to rotate the torso and stabilize
Exercises that work the abdominals include abdominal crunches, side
crunches, leg raises, abdominal sit-ups, cable crunches, hanging leg
raises, side bends, ab machine crunches, Swiss ball crunches and
decline board sit-ups.
The idea is to do a set of exercises in succession in order to
exhaust the muscle groups to muscle failure, meaning to the point
were the muscles are worked where you cannot do another rep.
Do not stop between sets. Connect all the sets together. Stopping
between sets allows the muscles to recuperate and this takes twice as
long to reach your goal of muscle failure.
Overkill is often the end results of those who are not sure what they
are doing. Increase the intensity, decrease your repetitions. By
doing half the amount of sit ups you do now, only more intensely,
will produce a more significant result. Try going up slow and down
Your number one priority is to protect your back, neck and spine from
over twisting, strains and pain. There should be no pain, when doing
sit ups any where else in your body. In fact, the word "pain" is not
appropriate. When doing sit ups, you should feel an exhaustion in the
muscle groups of the abdomen or "burning sensation". You are working
the muscle group and there should be a sense of this, but this should
not be considered pain.
Everyone's body is different. You have to listen to your body. What
exercise is appropriate for one person, may not be for another.
You want to consider working the three major muscle groups when doing
abdominal work; lower abs, upper abs and obliques.
Lay on the floor.
Place your finger tips behind the back of the head (not the neck).
Lightly touch the finger tips to frame the occiput or little bone
that protrudes from the back of the skull. Do not lace the fingers.
Do not carry the weight of your head in your hands. You should be
able to do a sit up, without your hands touch your head. The work in
raising and lowering the abdominals should come from your center core
Imagine a tennis ball ALWAYS under your neck. There should always be
space between your chin and your chest. When raising up for a sit up,
imagine the chin open and a straight line from the back of the spine
to the top of the head lifting you up as if you were laying on a
board. One line. Always keep your elbows back in the same line as
your ears. Take a moment to picture this in your mind.
Pull the abdomen to the floor. Engage the abdomen from your center
each time you sit up. You do not have to sit up very far. Just enough
to really feel the abdomen engaging in the lift.
Exhale on the crunch, slowly. Inhale as you move back down, twice as
slow. This is called working the "negatives". This is were the
extra "burn" comes from and ultimately your best work.
Always keep the lower back on the floor. This will always guarantee
the protection of the lower back and spine.
A basic crunch is ultimately working the entire abdomen, your center
core, as well as your upper abdomen.
The lower abs, which seems to be the hardest for most people and
often the most neglected (as you can tell when you are walking down
the street and see others around you) is essentially as easy as the
other areas to work.
Simply place your two fists under the back of your buttocks, on the
floor. Keep the lower back securely on the floor at all times. Raise
your knees to your upper abdomen, keeping them as close to your body
as possible. You only have to slightly raise your tailbone off the
floor to benefit from the work. But, hold the lift for two or three
seconds before you lower your tailbone back to the floor. The
movement should be very small. Keep your knees together and in place.
Do not allow your legs to move all over the place. Remember, tight
and compact. Keep it small.
Obliques should be done by crossing the body over the midline, the
center of your body. Bend your knees and place them flat on the
floor. Lightly touch the finger tips to frame the occiput. A
variation of this is to place one hand on the back of the head while
the other hand slides along the side of your body, palm up, as you do
each sit up. Pull the abdomen to the floor. Engage the abdomen from
your center each time you sit up, crossing the midline with your
opposite arm and chin. You do not have to sit up very far. Just
enough to really feel the abdomen engaging in the lift. Exhale on the
crunch, slowly. Inhale as you move back down. Do all the oblique
crunches on one side, then switch to the other side.
An effective goal is about 30-40 crunches in each position, without
stopping in between.
After your sit ups, stretch the feet and hands in opposite directions
on the floor as if you are trying to pull the abdomen apart.
You are on your way to a healthy, strong abdominal core.
Do not forget that no matter how many sit ups you do, you will never
achieve those ripped abs if you do not complement your ab workout
with cardiovascular exercise and a proper diet. Diet is just as much
a part of fitness as exercise, and what you eat will affect every
aspect of your workout. A proper diet also influences the results of
you fitness plan, since it helps build muscle and decrease the
percentage of fat in your overall body weight.
Andrew Pacholyk, MS, L.Ac
Therapies for healing
mind, body, spirit
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