Ab Curls - they're probably the most well known abdominal exercise, but did you know they're not always the most effective?
Done incorrectly, Ab Curls can place unnecessary strain on areas like the pelvic floor, lower back, neck and linea alba - the connecting tissue for our rectus abdominis, or six pack muscle. It may surprise you to learn that body weight moves are actually proven as some of the best ways to target your abs. This is due to balance required when performing such exercises - one of the primary functions of our core is stabilisation.
A sore neck, over use of the upper abdominals and not enough activation of the obliques, lower abs, and transverse abdominis or even conditions like abdominal separation or a weakened pelvic floor can all be reasons to get creative with your core work; and while Pilates has 101 creative, fun and effective modifications of the ab curl, with unique add ons that can guarantee better form and of course - a bigger burn - some days, we want more than the predictable roll on to our backs and hands behind our heads when it comes to getting ab work in.
The three moves below offer fantastic core activation, as well as using body weight resistance - providing an additional burn for the upper body. Try doing 10 reps of each exercise for three rounds. Enjoy!
Holding your body in a hover above the floor in a four point kneeling position and your toes tucked under, gently lower your knees to the mat before lifting back up. Ensure you're able to maintain a neutral spine, elongated neck and engaged core. Bonus points for releasing your pelvic floor when lowering your body, and squeezing it on upon lifting!
Holding your body in a hover above the floor in a four point kneeling position and your toes tucked under, move forward in a crawling position moving opposite sides of your body: left hand, right foot - then right hand, left foot. You can crawl forward several paces before returning backwards. Ensure you're able to maintain hip stability - imagine balancing cups of tea on your back!
Holding a plank on your forearms, tuck your tailbone under to engage your glutes and lower abs. Slowly start to dip your hips from left to right, moving your mid section in a semi circle shape. Don't drop your head, and watch for dipping through the lower back.