If you hear ‘ab exercise,’ you may think of the dreaded Sit-Ups or Crunches. What if we told you you could have rock hard abs, a flat stomach and (most importantly) a strong, functional core….without doing a single Sit-Up?
Our members know that at Valeo, we rarely (if ever) do sit-ups or crunches. Why, might you ask?
We train the core, instead, in the way it works while you are moving in everyday life…that is, your abs need to stabilize your spine (think bracing your stomach as if someone is going to punch you) and your abs need to provide rotation(think the diagonal motion your stomach muscles make while walking or running).
==> We avoid flexion of the spine, especially weighted flexion, as this is a recipe for spinal compression, tightening the likely already-tight hip flexors and creating or worsening a diastasis recti, especially post-pregnancy. <==
Here are three exercises you’ll see us commonly performing in the gym and, while NO ab exercise will affect how much fat is on top of the muscle (only overall calorie burn + stellar nutrition will do that), it can make the stomach muscles, specifically the body’s natural ‘brace’ called Transverse Abdomonis, more taught, resulting in the flat stomach many crave.
1. Standing Single-Arm Chest Press: with a resistance band or weighted cable behind you and feet in a staggered stance (opposite foot forward from whatever hand has the handle), punch the handle forward. You’ll feel your abs doing two things: 1. Resisting extension: the weight wants to yank your torso back; you have to create tension in your abs to stay upright. This is not a pushing-out of the stomach; rather a drawing it taught, as if bracing for a punch and 2. Resisting Rotation: since only one side of your body is resisting the weight, the other side has to work against that twisting. Keep your shoulder square when pushing your arm – don’t twist back and forth. Remember; tension is what creates stronger muscles. Never lose that tension or brace while you are doing an exercise and your abs will be lit!
2. Farmer’s Walk (2-sided) or Suitcase Carry (1-sided): also called “I can carry all the groceries in one trip, dang it!” lol, this move is more than an upper body or grip strengthener. As you carry the heavy weights at your side, your abs have to react by again, bracing to protect your spine. The stronger your brace, the stronger the energy and strength transfer to your limbs. Next, try this move by carrying only one “suitcase” – a totally different kind of challenge because of the role anti-rotation now plays. Your obliques, in particular (the diagonal muscles of the stomach) are working hard to not make you twist toward the heavy weight. So, next time you’re carrying groceries or in the airport lugging your bags, count it as an ab workout!
3. Hardstyle Plank: we all know the plank; that is, isometrically (without movement) contracting your abs while facing the ground. To elevate this move, create tension in nearly every muscle of your body by imaginingtrying to touch your knees and elbows together. By forcefully drawing them towards each other, you’re squeezing the quads, the butt, the abs and the lats (side of back). Hold this tension (without holding your breath), ‘zipping’ the knees and elbows toward each other. You won’t be able to hold it very long(if you’re doing it right!) but that’s the point – you’re getting tons of bang for your buck in a short time and teaching the right muscles to work and get stronger.
We hope you enjoyed these 3 unconventional exercises and remember – the core is used in almost every human movement. So brace that stomach and make EVERY exercise an ab exercise!
Jess + Team Valeo
6-Week Transformation Challenge
The (Even More) Awesome Challenge sign-ups are happening now for both members and non-members! Join us at the Kickoff Meeting on January 24 to learn more and then start your six weeks of intentionally Moving More, Eating Well, Sleeping Deep and Stressing Less on January 28. We’ve got a fun points system, a 20+ page workbook chock full of Exclusive Workouts, Valeo Meal Guidelines, Toxin Cheat Sheets, Meal Timing Recommendations, Snack Tips and more.
Learn more about The EMAC here.