By Tricia Y. Petrinovich
No, really. I dropped something on the floor. Can you get it for me? And yes, thank you, I am that lazy. But that’s not why we are here. We are supposed to be talking about abdominal exercises. The abdominals are usually located in the middle region of your body, unless they moved to Florida for the warmer weather. Mine are below my boobs and above the button on my jeans, however, if you haven’t purchased denim in the last 15 years, then your abs are below the button. And no, in this case your abdominals didn’t move, the button did.
Last month we talked about how to engage your core, which has little to do with skywriting a proposal and more to do with exhaling to summons your transverse abdominis to come to work, similar to the way I told you to pick up my crap in the last paragraph. If you need a refresher on what I said, feel free to click on the Archives button below and find the June edition of The Abdominal Chronicles. Go ahead. I’ll wait. (Insert whistling of Jeopardy theme or nails tapping on the desk.)
I also mentioned a few ways to work your core while standing, but your abs love to be laying down. Don’t we all? So here are some ways to whip them into shape from the floor:
- Bicycle Crunches. If you want to give your gut a gripe (in a good way) try this one. Lie flat on the floor, lower back pressed to the floor. Lace your fingers behind your head, but don’t use any actual needles or thread as you will be crying soon enough. Bringing your knees to your chest, rotate your upper body to meet your opposite elbow with that knee. Have them shake hands and say hello. Two things to watch out for: make sure you have engaged your core and are not just creating a “pooch” belly which is what happens when you engage them incorrectly, or if you eat a Shih Tzu for lunch. Always work in slow, controlled movements.
- Sandwich Crunches: This is not the technical name, but it’s what I call them because you are essentially folding yourself into one and, if you do enough of these, you don’t have to feel guilty about eating a Dagwood-sized hoagie when you’re done. Lie on your back, arms overhead. Then raise your legs and arms at the same time and in a slow controlled motion until they meet when they are straight up in the air. Then slowly lower them back to the floor. Rinse and repeat. P.S. What are your abs doing this whole time? That’s right, staying engaged. Will they ever get married? Probably not. They have a fear of commitment.
- Planks: I really wanted to leave this one off. Because yes, I hate these. But dang it, they’re effective, and I know you want to do them with me so we can hate them together. This time you will start on the floor, resting on your hands and knees, facing your carpet. First, stare at it closely and ask yourself if you remember in which decade you last vacuumed. Next, step your feet out until you are straight and your body looks like a (wait for it)…plank. (I’ll bet you never saw that one coming.) Your alignment is really important. Your spine should be parallel to the floor, not arched or sunken. Your derriere should be in line with the rest of your body, not sticking up. And your face should be contorted into horrific pain (this part doesn’t take as much work). Now, do absolutely nothing. Just sit there and hang out, and try to recall all the lyrics to the Bee Gees songs. It will feel like four years have gone by, but really, it’s only been about 2.3 seconds, because planks put you in a time warp. Try going at least 30 seconds, if you can maintain proper form. And work your way up over time, to a minute, then two or more. Or, just rock the 2.3 seconds and remind yourself it isn’t quantity, but quality that counts.
A word of admonition: Start slowly. Do focus on quality movements and worry less about reps. Over time work up to 10 then 20 or more of the crunches, and a minute or more on the planks. What I like to remind myself is that anything I do now that I wasn’t doing before now, just actually happened. Which is merely an unintelligible way of saying that something is better than nothing.
Now….has anyone seen my Shih Tzu?