Functionally Fit Abs
By: Tawny Clark, MEd, ISSA
Long gone are the days of doing tireless sit-ups and crunches. We want movements that are going to mimic our activities of daily living, and help us perform them with ease, i.e. putting away groceries on the top shelf of the cupboard. In today’s world of hustle and bustle, when are you ever lying on the floor during your everyday life anyway? Not only are the following moves functional, but they hit all four abdominal muscles: the rectus abdominus, internal and external obliques, and the transverse abdominus.
This ab circuit is also perfect if you are rushed for time because it only requires you to work at one station in the gym. You will be working at the cable weight stack with the rope attachment. Or if you are at home or in a hotel room, bands are just as effective.
Exercise #1: Back-facing Kneeling Cable Crunch
Position the pulley to the highest point on the cable machine. Start on your knees facing away from the cable machine. Grab the ends of the rope overhead so that your upper arm is perpendicular to your shoulder. Make sure you are far enough away from the weight stack so there is tension in the cable. To initiate, contract your abdominals as you hinge forward at the hip, keeping your core tight and back straight until your hands come to the floor. Slowly, reverse the motion keeping constant, controlled tension on the cable so the weight never touches the stack. Repeat for a total of 15 reps. Without resting, move to exercise number two.
Exercise #2: Standing Cable Horizontal Chop
Position the pulley between shoulder and chest height on the cable machine. Start standing with feet slightly wider than shoulder distance apart with knees slightly bent while drawing your belly button toward your spine. This will activate the transverse abdominus and stabilize the torso. Grab both ends of the rope with your arms fully extended and perpendicular to the cable machine. Be sure that you are far away from the cable machine so the weight is off the stack. Now, keeping the arms straight, body upright, and hips square, rotate 180 degrees away from the machine. Slowly, reverse the motion keeping constant, controlled tension on the cable so the weight never touches the stack. Repeat for a total of 15 reps on each side. Without resting, move to exercise number three.
Exercise #3: Standing Cable Chop (low-to-high)
Position the pulley to the lowest point on the cable machine. Start standing with feet slightly wider than shoulder distance and in a squat position. While keeping your spine straight, draw in your belly button and reach across your body with straight arms to grab the rope with both hands positioned above your knee. Now, keeping the arms straight, rotate through your core pulling the rope away from the stack up over your opposite shoulder. Slowly reverse the movement back to the start position while keeping constant tension on the weight stack. Repeat for a total of 15 reps on each side.
After completing all three exercises, rest for one minute. Repeat the entire circuit three to four more times. You are now well on your way to not only a six-pack, but living a functionally, fit life too! MS&F
*Photos by JamesPatrick.com