Six reasons to train your abs nowWith these special exercises, you’ll cut a ripped figure on the beaches and improve your overall health
If you preferred to work out at the dinner table during the winter months instead of the gym, now’s the time to start transforming your bacon belly into a washboard. Not only will you look better on the beach and feel more comfortable and confident but well-trained abdominal muscles also promote good health.
Apart from getting that perfect summer topless look, here are five more reasons why you should work that core and a few simple exercises to help along the way.
1. Improve yourself in your sport
A core workout, which essentially strengthens abdominal, back and pelvic floor muscles, makes you better in all strength or speed sports, according to expert Stuart McGill, professor of spinal biomechanics at the University of Waterloo. Strong torso muscles allow you to transfer more strength into your extremities meaning you hit harder and shoot firmer.
EXERCISE: FOREARM SUPPORT
In the prone position, support your forearms placing your elbows under the shoulder joints. Your feet should touch the ground with your toes. Then raise your hips until your body forms a line, and build tension. Face downwards as you perform the action. Beginners should hold the position for between 30 and 60 seconds. Once you’ve progressed, choose a time between one and two minutes. Abdominal pros should go until failure. Repeat three times.
2. Get better balance
Trained abdominal muscles help to stabilise your body and improve your balance, whether in sports or in everyday life. This reduces your risk of injury and allows you to move more efficiently.
Lie on your back, angling the legs at a 90-degree angle and place your arms next to your body. Raise your pelvis until you form a line from the shoulders to the knee, tensing the belly and bum muscles. Hold this position briefly, then lower the hips to the ground before lifting again. Repeat as often as you can.
3. Counteract back pain
If you sit a lot in the office with little movement, you’ll probably know all about back pain. By training the abdominal and back muscles, you’ll learn to effectively bend them or, if your back is already aching, counteract the pain.
EXERCISE: SIDE SUPPORT
Go into the side position and lean on one arm; place the other arm on the side of your torso. Stretch the legs and pull your toes towards your knees. Then raise the buttocks so that the trunk and legs form a straight line. For a variant, stretch the upper arm in the air. As with the forearm support: 30 to 60 seconds for rookies, one to two minutes for practising, and open-ended for experienced. Repeat this with each side three times.
4. Protect your organs
Your belly doesn’t just look good with a six-pack, it also protects vital organs. With core training, you also protect your spine including the central nervous system from the demands of everyday life.
The classic crunch. Lie on your back and raise your legs at a 90-degree angle. Lift your arms and hold them above the floor. Roll your torso advanced enough that the shoulder blades lift up from the ground. Repeat the exercise slowly until your belly muscles go limp.
5. You live longer
A washboard stomach also extends your life, according to researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota who conducted several studies on the topic of waist measurements. Men with a waist circumference of 109 centimetres or more have a 52 per cent higher risk of premature death than men with a waist circumference of 89 centimetres or less.
Lie on your stomach, stretching the arms forward. Now lift the left arm and right leg. Hold, then lift your right arm and left leg. You can also raise both legs and both arms together. Perform these exercises in quick succession. Beginners should perform the exercise for 15 to 30 seconds, intermediates for 30 to 60 seconds and experienced athletes should only stop when nothing else will work. Repeat three times.