Need an ab workout for men?
What you need to know...
Research has lead us to 3 very important core training methods...
1) Anti-extension, 2) Anti-lateral flexion, and 3) Anti-rotation.
Nowadays, exercising into repeated flexion (particularly loaded sit-ups and crunches) is a no no.
It turns out that exercises that work spinal flexion, extension, and rotation really aren't that effective after all.
In fact, these types of workouts likely cause more harm than good.
Aside from the meat heads that hammer away at thousands of crunches trying to get that shredded six pack, the average Joe that spends hours every day hunched over at a computer screen (in spinal flexion) just creates more postural problems going into even more flexion with sit-ups and crunches.
I want a six pack. If sit-ups and crunches aren't the answer, then what is???
1. Focus on neutral spine with motor control.
2. Improve your T-spine mobility.
3. Get stronger and more stable.
An ab workout for men needs anti-extension, anti-lateral flexion, and anti-rotation movements.
This isn't an old school ab workout for men philosophy.
Who are these exercises for?
Anyone suffering from flexion intolerant back pain. Typically, it's the computer guy.
It's usually athletes and experience lifters that develop the opposite problem of extension-based back pain.
These exercises work your abs without extending the spine. Actually, they are working to prevent the spine from extending.
Remember, the focus here is to keep "neutral" spine.
Anti-extension exercise is any exercise where you are actively trying to prevent the spine from flexing.
What you'll get out of this...
Lie on your back with knees, hips, and ankles all at 90 degrees. Position your arms straight and perpendicular to your torso. Flatten your lower back against the floor.
Maintain this position as you contralaterally lower your limbs in a controlled manner, as you effort to resist extension.
Empty the air out of your diaphragm as you lower. And as you are exhaling, keep the ribs down.
Once the air is completely out, there's nothing there to support the spine but the stabilizer muscles.
Maintain the proper spinal position and allow the surrounding muscles to do their work.
While keeping the lower back flat against the floor, breathe into the back and return to the start position. You should feel air fill up in your belly, chest, and also back.
Repeat the movement with the opposite limbs.
These exercises work to prevent lateral flexion (side bending).
To accomplish anti-lateral flexion, you need to stay completely upright with absolutely no leaning.
Carries provide a high level of abdominal and hip muscle activity that reinforces good posture.
The suitcase carry works to correct asymmtries in the trunk, hip and shoulder girdle.
What you'll get out of this...
Keep your chest up while locking your rib cage down. Slightly shrug so you aren't being pulled down into shoulder depression.
Try other variations of this exercise such as waiter carries, bottoms-up carries, and kettlebell carries.
Before you start, establish a more ideal shoulder girdle posture. Do this by adjusting the scapula position and firing the deep cervical flexors.
Scapula Position: Posterior tilt, adduction, external and upward rotation. Maintain this position throughout the carry.
Activate the deep cervical flexors. This is important for improving overall stability.
You want to complete this exercise staying completely upright with absolutely no leaning.
If you're unable to maintain perfect posture, then the load is too great (or the carry is too long).
If you're compensating with an extreme lean, then the load is too heavy.
An anti-rotation movement prevents rotation at the lumbar spine.
These techniques can be peformed on the floor or standing. From the floor they are less challenging because the floor provides more stability.
Gradually progress to a more challenging standing position.
It's important to understand that core muscles are more about anti-rotation than rotation. Rotation comes from your hips. Some rotation may come at the thoracic spine (upper back).
Think about stable core and stable lumbar spine.
The chop is a high to low movement pattern. Your inside leg is up while your outside leg is down.
Start inline for the half kneel chop. Pull then push. Make a distinct pull then press action.
It's an anti-rotation exercise in that you're resisting being pulled away. Pull the cable then press it downward.
The lift is a low to high movement pattern. Your inside leg is down while your outside leg is up.
This movement is a pull then press. You're teaching your body to stabilize against diagonal forces. Pull the cable then press it upward.
Tall kneeling push pull
This is one of the best anti-rotation exercises. Some say it looks like a press then a row. Well, that's because it is.
You're stabilizing against rotational forces. You're pushing and pulling as the load is trying to rotate you. Glutes are firing. Core is firing.
Push and pull your arms. Don't rotate your torso.
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