Can you strengthen the abdominals while in a seated or standing position? Yes! We are all familiar with working on our abdominals by lying down and curling forward, but stop and think about what you do in your everyday life. How many times a day do you actually curl up from a lying down position? Probably once—to get out of bed in the morning! There’s nothing wrong with strengthening the abs this way, and it does particularly work the rectus abdominus, the most exterior of the abdominal group. When you curl and add torso rotation you are also working the internal and external obliques, your natural girdle that God gave you. A group of diagonal abdominal muscles that wrap around the torso.
But did you know that you can also strengthen these muscles in an upright position either standing or seated? Here are a few exercises that we added to our Body & Soul Fitness workout. Give them a try and see what you think.
The Oblique Crunch. Standing with legs shoulder width apart, reach up, then set the shoulder blades back and down, upper body activated, then consciously contract as you lean to the side, bending the elbow on that side slightly and bringing the knee on that side up slightly toward the elbow. Then release back to upright position. Do 12 repetitions, thinking about the abdominal muscles moving the torso, letting the elbow and knee follow. Repeat, leaning and crunching to the other side. Once you have mastered this movement pattern, add a light weight in one hand, on the side you are leaning to. Move slowly as this will change the balance factor as well as adding resistance.
Option: Keep both feet on the ground and perform the same side lean, start without a weight and lean to the side, keeping the hips still, return to center. Do 12 repetitions to each side. Be careful to not let the hips pop out to the side. Use them as a stabilization factor. When you are ready, hold one light weight end to end above your head, with the ends of the weight firmly in each hand. Lean again, keeping the head between the arms, only as far as you can while keeping the hips still. Do 12 repetitions to each side. This can also be done in a seated position with the hips squarely placed on a stable chair.
The Airplane Crunch. Stand with feet in parallel stance, then touch one toe slightly behind you, hinge forward slightly at the hip to avoid arching the back, and extend both arms forward, while balancing with the one foot behind you. This is your starting position. Consciously contract the abdominals and bend the knee lifting the foot off the ground, while pulling in both arms, bending at the elbow, for the ‘crunch’. Finish the move by extending the arms forward, and releasing the leg back into ‘airplane’ position with your toe down for balance or off the ground to add a balance factor to the exercise. When you have mastered this movement pattern, add a light weight in your hands, held end to end with one end firmly in each hand. This works the rectus abdominus. Do 12 repetitions then change legs. Do one or more sets.
Keep in mind that these are ‘thoughtful’ exercises that you need to perform while consciously thinking about contracting the abdominals. Since you don’t have assistance from gravity, you need to stay focused to get the maximum workout! I hope you enjoy this creative new way to work the abs!
President, Body and Soul Fitness