Want sexy abs? San Diego movement & mobility chiropractors share 6 exercises to build a strong, deep core and a healthy spine.
How do I get six-pack abs? It’s what everyone asks at some point (at least privately). However, as a chiropractor, I want us to protect our spine for the long-haul AND get our washboard on.
But KNOW this about that sexy 6-pack: it's the farthest musculature from your spine and the least likely to protect your spine.
The following 6 exercises will unwrap that washboard you’ve been wanting, while strengthening your spine for real-world demands.*
THE STRICT SIT-UPS
Sit-ups are rarely seen these days and mostly for varying reasons. Why?
- We got sloppy with our form (e.g. curling of the spine).
- Repetitive curling of the spine might not be a good long-term strategy.
- We think its basic and not advanced enough for core goals.
However, the STRICT sit-up demands a fixed, neutral spine and helps us build two awesome training variables: hip hinging and deep core awareness.
Try it for yourself:
- Tuck your toes under something and keep a long neutral, fixed spine.
- Take a deep inhale and hinge straight up. Exhale at the top.
- Inhale deep as you descend slowly with that same neutral, fixed spine.
- If you start to round your back on the way up or down take a break and reset. Form is EVERYTHING.
We need trunk stability to carry awkward, heavy shit around. When carrying something heavy, the trunk acts to resist movement at the hips and low back. If the trunk is weak we risk underlying ligaments and discs to injury. Think of that time you attempted to lift and carry your over-stuffed suitcase out of a hotel, and WHAM... deep spinal spasms.
- Grab a weight, something heavy enough that after 50 yards you'd have to set it down.
- Walk in a straight-line while bracing your core and keep your shoulders engaged.
- Try to minimize movement or sway at your pelvis.
PALLOF PRESS PROGRESSION
Basic human movements like rolling, crawling, and pulling ourselves up, first require trunk activation and functionality. One of these trunk functions is RESISTING rotation. If the core is weak, rotary movements can shear and strain connective tissue.
- Holding onto a cable or resistance band play with as many hand, foot, and hip positions as possible while maintaining a strong core.
- See progression below ninja and get creative with resisting movement at the core.
If you have ever trained gymnastics, one of the first holds that are mastered is the hollow-body. This position maximizes trunk & core strength so that we can transfer energy from the lower extremity to the upper. Start your trainings with this exercise to get more power when lifting, squatting, jumping, sprinting or whatever you love to do.
- Cross one-hand over the other, same for the feet. Lift and scoop out the front line of your body by pressing the lower spine into the floor while moving your naval towards your spine.
- Breathe and hold strong for 10 seconds. Go longer as you level-up.
- Keep your neck protected by a slight tuck of the chin.
- Progress to a clean hollow-body hang.
3-POINT AND 2-POINT PLANKS
Professional athletes develop core strength as a foundation for endurance training. The 3 & 2 point planks are a fun way to prep for endurance training by connecting the trunk to the opposing extremity.
- Get in a strong plank position with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Pick up one limb at a time withOUT rotating your trunk.
- Move and play towards lifting the opposing limbs.
The core is a link, transferring energy from the legs to the arms. Notice this when you’re winding up to kick or throw a ball? How about swinging a golf club? Thus a stronger core organizes more effective, mobile use of your arms and legs. The med-ball toss is a fun way to experiment with the core, acting as both an engine and a braking mechanism.
- Grab a smiling stranger, as fluidly, as possible, try tossing and receiving a heavy med-ball.
- Focus on the strength of your core and the transfer of energy at your center.
- Increase the distance between your partner as you improve.
You want sexy abs. We want you to have a spine that will last a 100 years. Try these exercises and you can have both!
*These exercises are for those who are pain free. Those experiencing pain should seek evaluation & treatment from a sports chiropractor, PT or PCP.