As trainers, some common complaints/problems we hear about are i) back pain or ii) someone wanting to shrink their stomach/trim away their mid-section. Often times, the two are related. A heavy mid section or poor anterior flexion (when your hips are tilted forward and your butt kinds sticks out like a duck) can pull your spine and back into painful positions. (See photos.)
The first reaction most people have is to think ‘OK – I need to work my abs’ – this is not wrong thinking, however doing a bunch of crunches or sit ups each night won’t necessarily get you the results you want.
First, you have to look at your nutrition. (..Bet ya didn’t wanna hear that?! but it’s true.) What are you eating everyday? Do you have a big belly that is causing you problems? (If you need help with your nutrition you can download our FREE nutrition guide HERE. It’s filled with basic dieting options, sample meal plans, grocery lists, and other tips for success.)
If your nutrition is good, then it’s time to start looking at your ab routine. There are multiple layers when it comes to your abs – some that give you a ‘six pack’ look and others that actually support your spine and provide stabilization. Here is a break down:
- Rectus Abdominal. This muscle is what we’re seeing when we see someone with a ‘six pack’. It runs along the front wall of our abdomen and can be worked through flexion and extension (Exercises: Crunch, Sit-Up etc.)
- External Obliques. This muscle runs along the sides and front of our abdomen and are used during flexion and rotation. (Exercises: Russian Twist, Bicycle etc.)
- Internal Obliques. This muscle also runs along our side but is located underneath the external obliques and runs in the opposite direction. Also used in flexion and rotation. (Exercises: Same as above.)
- Transverse Abdominal (TVA). This muscle is the deepest of abdominals and is located underneath the external and internal obliques and wraps around your spine to protect the spine and provide stability. (Exercises: Planks, Ab Rollers, Heel Drops etc.)
If you suffer from back pain it is likely that you need to work your Transverse Abdominal muscles (the ones that support your spine and stability). These muscles tend to weaken with age and also during pregnancy.
Below is a simple at-home workout routine to strengthen these muscles. So you too can have a waist like Arnold..
Side Note: Some the greatest bodybuilders of all time were known for their famous ‘vaccum pose’. They repeatedly worked their transverse abdominal muscles to create the smallest waists possible at all angles – and it seemed to have worked.. if you’re looking at the same pictures as I am above. #thumbsuparnold
\\ Simple At-Home Transverse Abdominal Workout //
Exercise 1: Ab Draw Ins
// Start by laying on your back in a neutral position with your stomach relaxed and your feet flat on the floor.
// Next, draw your belly button into your spine as much as you can. Think about sucking in your stomach as much as possible and hold for 10 Second.
// Relax for 5 seconds and repeat for 10 reps.
// After 10 reps, relax for 30 seconds and repeat to complete 3 rounds.
// Start with your back on the floor with your legs 90 degrees in the air.
// Keep your back and hips on the ground and alternate tapping your heels to the ground one at a time.
// Complete for 10 reps on each leg.
// Rest for 30 seconds and then complete 3 rounds.
Exercise 3: Stability Ball Roll Outs
// Stand on your knees and place your hand flat on the stability ball in front of you.
// Slowly lean forward and let the ball roll up your arms to about your elbows while keeping your core and hips tight. (Don’t let your hips drop towards to floor or sit too high up.)
// Slowly roll back in to the starting position.
// Repeat 10 times. Rest for 30 seconds and then complete 3 rounds.
// Start with your hands on the floor in a push up position and your feet on the ball.
// Slowly roll the ball in and bring your knees towards your chest. Keep your core tight and hips even. Try to let your body rock from side to side.
// Repeat 10 times. Rest for 3 seconds and then complete 3 rounds.
// Place your elbows and toes on the ground while lifting the centre of your body in the air.
// While keeping your body in a straight line, push your heels forward and shift your weight to your elbows.
// Then rock back and push your heels to the back of the room.
// Rock back and forth like that 10 times. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat for 3 rounds.