Wednesday, April 25, 2012

To Strengthen the Abdominals

THE way to flat stomachs isn’t through doing hundreds of sit-ups. Core exercises — and sit-ups are among them — are for strengthening the abdominal muscles, not to flatten the tummy.

To flatten the tummy, you need to burn fat and that is done through cardiovascular exercises like running, cycling or swimming.

That said, core exercises (one’s core is the area between the upper and the lower body) are very important, not for aesthetics alone. Strong core muscles reduce the risk of injury, especially on the lower back.

Always do core exercises at the end of your workout because this is when you are exhausted, so you know how strong or weak your core muscles are.
Here are five core exercises you can do at home:

1. Back stretch
In a crawling position, with your head facing down and your stomach contracted, arch your spine upwards. Then look straight and curve your spine downwards. This helps stretch your lower and upper back.

2. Alternate bridging
In a crawling position, straighten your left leg and right arm. Hold for 30 seconds, then change to the right leg and left arm for the same duration. Do this three times. Remember to contract your stomach.

3. Plank
Contract your stomach and balance your weight on your arms — from wrist to elbow — and on your tucked-in toes. Hold this position for one minute.

4. Side plank
A harder variation than the plank, you have to balance your weight on one arm with your legs one on top of the other. Your body, the mat and your arm must resemble a triangle and you can only do this with your back straight.

5. Bridging

This is like plank, but instead of balancing your weight on your arms, it’s on your palms. Make sure your body, from shoulder to leg, form a straight line. You must not bend your back. Hold for one to two minutes and repeat twice.

(Hoesni Rahmat is a physical trainer)

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