BEST AB EXERCISE IN 30 SECONDS OR LESS (ISSUE 107)
By Diane Gold
Best ab exercise in 30 seconds is so simple, protects the back, is adjustable based on fitness level and can be done by almost anyone. It doesn’t take equipment or getting in shape to do it. It’s sexy for trainers, gym buffs or never-work-out-ers. And it’s practical.
THE REASON FOR THE BEST AB EXERCISE
The reason I’m giving it away is simple and timely. Here’s the story.
I saw a photo and exercise routine one of my (actual) friend’s shared on a social networking site. My friend is an avid athlete and 30-year yogi, which means she is strong and fit. She communicates with many people who are also strong and fit. So when she shared a plank photo and instructions for a plank exercise, starting with 20 seconds per day, she was probably directing it to the fit crowd. I immediately responded to her post with an EXTREME CAUTION comment because…
A plank is a stationary exercise where we maintain a flat horizontal position, emulating a piece of plywood, holding ourselves off the floor using our abdominal muscles. If we have abs from regular correctly executed workout, whether in martial arts, swimming, gym-ing or dancing; this exercise may be a wonderful treat.
Most people are attracted to an interesting workout photo that gets passed around. What was missing, and I’m not pointing fingers, was a super big warning sign. Having owned an active martial arts school for over 15 years, I have heard many stories about injury due to improper workout. I have helped show many a newbie student why proper alignment is everything and that haste can cost precious training time as we heal from beginner, didn’t-follow-directions injuries.
It is extremely easy to hurt the back doing the plank exercise, even though it is a wonderful technique if we have the abs for it. It’s whether or not they are strong enough to hold our entire body upon command. And that is what today’s exercise is about. Back Injury
YOGA AND TAI CHI
Any time extreme fitness is done, injuries abound. That includes yoga, even though it is a spiritual non-martial art. Typically, it’s because people are holding one position. If they have been taught proper alignment, they have a great chance of never being injured. Without it, many injuries occur. In 2010, the Consumer Product’s Safety Commission reported 7,369 yoga injuries. Many of them were back injuries.
Let’s state here that most of the time, experienced teachers in any discipline who understand movement will make certain to teach basics before any aggressive movement exposes the student to harm. There are many inexperienced teachers out there in every discipline, and they don’t understand the importance and the essence of basic training. They also may minimize safety as a priority.
I just read an Indian newspaper that said that tai chi is taking over yoga. I’m not sure on what it’s based or how valid it is. I do know, from having taught tai chi for over 15 years, that tai chi is a non-rigid, flowing way. Each movement, like time-lapse photography, is always new as we, the creator of the movement, are always changing. This liquid movement and traditional dedication to basics are two reasons tai chi is known to be safe with few injuries.
EFFICIENCY AND SIT-UPS
Most of us want efficiency and want the shortest road toward what we consider perfection that we can take. That means we would like to bypass any frills and get right to the real work. Yet, some exercises, worldwide, put, at least, 50% fluff in them.
Take the sit up. Most people know the sit up to involve 90 degrees of movement: from a sitting up position to a lying down position. Wrong! Ehhhhhhhnnng! Unnecessary.
Much of the 90-degree sit-up is wasted time and energy, hurts the back and doesn’t do what we want it to do. And, it’s so stressful that we stop doing sit ups shortly after we begin because we don’t love them or we are already feeling twinges in our back or side. Soooooooo many people injure themselves with sit-ups because the exercise is designed to strengthen the abs without protection for the back.
So, what’s the answer?
DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME FOLKS?
I was so moved by seeing the plank exercise without any qualifying comments and by knowing how harmful it can be to the unsuspecting newcomer or restarter that I was moved to reveal this one simple secret that protects the back, is quite adjustable to people who are just starting out and can be challenging to advanced movers and shakers.
You know the warning labels on new equipment that says,
“Don’t try this at home, folks?”
I really wanted to say that, then ease into why the plank exercise can be dangerous if not done properly. Since most people don’t understand that the strong abdominal plate (the core) allows us to hold our back in a plank-like position, the caution lights would be appropriate on this plank exercise.
BEST AB EXERCISE IN 30 SECONDS OR LESS
Instead, here’s the best ab exercise in 30 seconds or less. It is designed for safety and effectiveness. If you need a towel under your coccyx or want a towel or mat, do it! The harder the surface, the better, though.
1) Lie down on the floor with knees raised at shoulder width apart, feet flat on the floor.
2) Place the arms across the chest, elbows flat on the body. This will protect the back from strain.
3) Adjust the legs so that the distance between the knees and the belly button is the same or more than the distance between the knees and the toes.
4) Press the lower back into the floor from the belly button/abs region throughout the exercise. This will protect your back from curving the wrong way or straining.
Now comes the adjustable part.
5) Keeping the spine as straight as possible with the back pressed against the floor, lift the shoulders a comfortable amount off the floor.
6) Breathing normally through the nose, hold the position for a comfortable amount of time.
a) If 10 seconds works, immediately lower the shoulders at 10 seconds and stay with back pressing into ground in rest position for 15 seconds.
b) If 20 seconds works, immediately lower the shoulders at 20 seconds and stay with back pressed against the floor in rest position for 15 seconds.
c) If 30 seconds works, immediately lower the shoulders at 30 seconds and stay with back pressing into ground in rest position for 15 seconds.
7) Do not do sets. Do it once, and you are finished for the day. Write down the amount of time you lifted the shoulders and repeat that amount of time for 6 more days.
8) After the first week, you can increase the amount of time, if you wish, but you must maintain that increase for the rest of the week.
9) Do not exceed 45 seconds for the first 21 days.
The important thing is following through with the best ab exercise on a daily or every-other-day basis. That’s why we don’t increase the reps on a regular basis or worry about how fancy the exercise is. Consistency is more important than duration. Getting started is more important than anything.
If you would like 1:1 discussion as you are doing this exercise, please contact us and include a phone number. If you are not certain why we have given a certain instruction, it is probably a safety feature, but feel free to ask.
1) Do the exercise for 7, 14 or 21 days, once a day, and tell us what it has done for you.
2) Keep a written or digital record of your work.
3) Pass this on to 1 other person, or, at least, the warning about the plank exercise, if nothing else.
4) Take your time, following the directions. Proper alignment is worth it.
WORK WITH US
If you would like to set up a consult or ask a question about your situation, please go to our Contact Us page at http://warriorsofweight.com/contact-us. Even if you are confused about your situation, you are welcome to reach out here. Please include the best time to contact you.
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DIANE GOLD, AUTHOR
Diane Gold, Founder of Warriors of Weight, Turning Habits Into Health, is a mentor in tai chi, kung fu and meditation, a music, fitness and stress expert, dedicated mom, studying plant-based nutrition and habit change.
Today’s essay is about the best ab exercise, but it really focuses on the importance of body alignment. She says,
“An exercise doesn’t have to be fancy to work. It has to be efficient. Any exercise can be easy if we are strong and if we pay attention to alignment details. Most people work from competition or some other ego-driven goal. Others work to get to know themselves.
“Whatever our objective, the instructions in this piece will save a lot of wasted energy and serve us well.
“Once we are familiar with how to do the technique, it can become part of our everyday routine. Because it’s an adjustable exercise, it can stay with us throughout our lives. May it be fun and keep us healthful!”
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