Torso and Abdominals
The torso and abdominals supplement the work of your back in creating a strong central core of the body. Each relies on the other for support so having worked the back, ensure that during the same session, you work on the other areas in order that development is uniform. The benefits? Toning and better posture.
Let’s start with stretching of the torso and a position sitting cross legged, palms flat to the floor on either side to provide both stability and promote good posture. Raise your right arm so that the bicep is resting against your ear and bend to the side, holding the position for 10 seconds and completing 10 repetitions. You should be feeling the pull along the length of the upper body. Repeat the drill for the left-side.
Opening up both back and torso can be achieved through the back stretch. Sit down, legs bent at the knees, feet flat on the floor. Reach down and wrap your arms around the back of the thighs. Breathe in, push up and back so that the torso and shoulder blades open up and the abdominals tighten. As you breathe out, release the abdominals and relax back into the starting position. Repeat for 10 repetitions.
Tighten the Abdominal MusclesThe most common form of abdominal exercise is the sit-up. Execute it by lying down with knees bent, feet flat on the floor and the first two fingers of each hand resting against the temples. Tighten the abdominal muscles as your raise your body upwards, keeping both your shoulders and neck straight and relaxed to prevent both tension and the temptation to bend the torso upwards towards the knees. Remember to return to the starting position slowly each time as this makes the muscles work harder.
Curls also target the abdominal muscles. The easiest is the standard movement: lie down, bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor, hands flat on the front of the thighs. Then tense your abdominals and use them to raise your body so that your hands travel slowly and steadily up to meet the knee caps. Then equally slowly and steadily, lower yourself back to the starting position. Ten repetitions are suitable as an initial target.
Keep Your Head and Neck RelaxedThe oblique curl involves adopting the same starting position as the curl but with both hands resting on the right hip. Tense the abdominals and raise so that your left shoulder comes up and over towards your hands. Remember to keep your head and neck relaxed and lower yourself back into position slowly. To exercise the right side, simply reverse the movement.
Finally, the reverse curl, which as the name suggests, involves bringing the knees up to the chest. Lie on the floor, legs raised and crossed at the ankles, hands by your side with the palms facing downwards for support. Contract your abdominals, push your backside into the floor and bring your knees up towards your shoulders. Again, a series of 10 reps should be ideal for starters. As well as a relaxed head and neck, ensure you don’t try to force the action by pushing your hands into the floor or swinging your legs to add momentum to the movement. If your hands are attempting to influence the movement, simply turn them so that the palms are facing upwards.