Two to four times a week. Depending on your strength-training regimen, you might need to concentrate on your core only one or two days a week. Here's why: If your program is primarily free weights, you are simultaneously working the core through stabilization. If your program is founded in resistance machines, you will need two to four times a week. Design your abdominal workout by choosing a variety of exercises, combining spinal flexion, rotation and lateral flexion exercises.
Target muscles: Abdominals and low back
The resistance machine pictured here is a safe and effective way to perform guided ab crunches; the hanging leg raise uses your own bodyweight to challenge your low back and abs; doing crunches on a stability ball (aka balance ball, exercise ball, Swiss ball) intensifies the crunch while supporting the low back; training with a medicine ball (slamming it to the floor or into a wall forces the core to contract and produce power); bosu ball is an unstable piece of equipment that demands stability from your core to stay balanced.
How will this help me?
Abdominal conditioning will benefit you in many ways. The muscles of the core make it possible to stand upright and walk, run and play. These muscles help you control movement, transfer energy, shift your body weight and move in any direction. A strong core distributes the stresses of weight-bearing movement and protects your back.
Find meanings of these fitness terms at www.cindysays.com and www.ymcawv.org: powerhouse/core, core strength, six pack, multifidus bracing, stability ball, erector spinae, rectus abdominis, shoulder girdle, bosu ball.
NEXT WEEK: Heart-smart exercise
Cindy Boggs, fitness presenter, author and Activate America director, has been an ACE-certified coordinator/instructor since 1989.
Send your questions about fitness, training or health to YMCA of Kanawha Valley, 100 YMCA Drive, Charleston, WV 25311, or e-mail cindys...@aol.com.
Look for Cindy's fitness advice book, "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World" on her Web site www.cindysays.com or contact the YMCA, at 304-340-3527.