Ab workouts are horrible. Some types of ab workouts do more harm to other areas just by the design of the movement (strain on the neck, weakened pelvic floor, overuse of hip-flexors etc. etc.). And they’re horrible. I will never have a “six pack”. In fact, I usually just refer to my abs as “my ab”…singular. A day or two after a workout that involves abs you can usually hear me whining like a two year old every so often about how “my AB is sooooooore“. Because, have I mentioned? AB WORKOUTS ARE HORRIBLE! And crunches are the devil. Just saying. So when I go to the gym or go play volleyball, I try to focus on movements that are multi-functional.
- Squats – If you’re not fully engaging your core here YOU’RE NOT DOING IT RIGHT. Your core needs to be tight all the way from the top to bottom and back up in order to maintain balance and help prevent back strain.
- Standing Long Jumps and/or volleyball block/approach jumps – These are my favorite. Most people think when you block/hit a volleyball your just jump straight up. But in fact, your body makes more a C formation, just like when you land in a long jump. In each of these movements your feet are behind you at one point, only to end up in front of you prior to completion. It’s these movements that contract your abs/core. And let me tell you, it doesn’t take many reps to start feeling sore if your ab has gotten a bit fluffy.
- Hanging Leg Lifts – Whether you do a full on toe to bar or just knee ups, these can engage the abs hard core. You can overuse your hip-flexors here, so be careful. Arms, legs, abs…this one has it all.
- Planks – Oh, the variations of planks are seemingly endless! This is another one that you KNOW if your core is not engaged the entire time then you’re just not doing the movement correctly. Just to list a few…
- Walking Plank
- Side Plank
- Reverse Plank
- Planks with Shoulder Touches
- Single Arm/Leg Plank
- X Plank
- Medicine ball halo – These always attack the my obliques and different variations will help with balance!
Much like the rest of my chaotic life, most of the time what my workout will actually be is pretty tentative right up until I walk through the gym door. I know this is HORRIBLE, but I hate to plan. It stresses me out. I feel a sense of freedom with nothing is locked down or set in stone. The one thing I do know is that I don’t do workouts specifically targeted to abs. Maybe that’s wrong, but it beats the alternative of not working out at all!!