How do you get “wash-board” abs? The IFPA “Ask-A-Trainer” section has received more questions on the abdominals than any other muscle group. Hopefully, you already understand that you can have the world’s greatest washboard, but if it is buried under several pounds of “loosely-packed-muscle” no one will ever know. Therefore, the first step will be for you to get your percent of body fat down, for most people, below 10%. Refer back to your IFPA Sports Nutrition or Personal Trainer manuals for information on reducing body fat, while maintaining lean mass.
Now for the fun part – abs exercise; as a former gymnast I have an arsenal of abs exercises that just aren’t designed for mortals. I will however, share with you the Jim Bell – Ultimate Stability Ball Crunch. Refer back to FitBits of April 30, 2004 for selecting the correct stability ball size for your height.
Start the exercise in supine position on the ball. Legs should be positioned wide apart, feet flat on the floor, knees bent at 90 degrees. Lay back to a comfortable arch (arch across the top of the ball to the comfortable limits of your spine’s full range of motion (ROM), (you should feel a relaxing stretch, completely free of pain). Head should be back in contact with ball, arms straight and stretched back, hands clasped over head. Hips should be down with lower back arched to a comfortable stretch. Suck your gut in as far as you can, attempt to get your belly button to touch your backbone (this is a visualization technique – if you can actually get your belly button to your backbone I want to see a picture! And, rights to the MOVIE!). The really tough part will be keeping your gut sucked in throughout the entire movement. This is critically important, sucking the gut in works the Transverse Abdominis and the Multifidus. These two muscles are the keys to a strong core. By increasing the stability of the lumbar spine you can increase athletic performance, reduce and possibly eliminate low back pain. None of these improvements can happen if you can not learn to suck your gut in while performing this exercise.
Begin the movement with a slow controlled crunch. Lift the arms, head and shoulders while simultaneously lifting the hips (again: suck the gut throughout the entire movement). It should take 10 seconds to go from relaxed to fully contracted. From the fully contracted position slowly turn your head, shoulders and arms to the left. You will perform a Russian Twist to the left taking 5 seconds to twist to your ROM and 5 seconds to return to neutral. Repeat the motion to the right. Remember to stay fully contracted with gut sucked in. Now lower slowly back to fully arched position.
The crunch part of the movement works the Rectus Abdominus. The Russian Twist part works the Internal and External Obliques.
If you can do more than 10 reps, add resistance by holding a dumbbell or plate in your hands. If you have a great deal of difficulty sucking in your gut, I suggest you practice that movement several times throughout the day while sitting, standing or lying down. You can practice the movement in bed, in the shower, sitting at your desk or while driving. It’s a great ab exercise, all by it’s self.
News on Nutrition:
I had an opportunity to sit down with John Gilman, CEO of Gilman Nutrition and Mitch Weintraub, CEO of Natural Fitness Concepts and designer of “The Trainers Edge” software (custom integrated nutrition, training and supplementation software) last week at IFPA Headquarters. I always enjoy conversing with these two giants of our industry. Not only are they fun to talk with, they always bring me the latest and newest insights to supplementation and nutrition. We covered way too much ground to list here, but I wanted to put out some bullets for your education.
– Aspartame, the primary sugar substitute of most diet sodas may be a cause in “Gulf War Syndrome.” Recent investigations have uncovered the possibility that the desert heat (above 92°) re-heating of the soda inside the body (remember body temp: 98.6°) may cause the aspartame to form a toxin inside the body.
– Chocolate is now believed to have more disease – fighting antioxidants than virtually any other food source.
– Switch to brown or green tea instead of coffee. John recommends 3 cups of green tea per day. He believes that the high levels of antioxidants could prevent much of what ails us.
– And for those of you that took eggs out of your diet for health reasons – put them back in. John said that recent research has indicated that the Choline in eggs has actually improved memory in test subjects.
John will be presenting on supplementation at the Conference. I cannot emphasize enough, John is a brilliant biochemist that will provide more insight into supplements than you have ever heard anywhere.
Mitch Weintraub will be presenting on how to take this new found information and helping you profit from it. Mitch will create strategies for you to help your clients with their goals by utilizing new technologies. Using these technologies will decrease the time it takes for your clients to achieve their goals and increase your profits.
WIN – WIN strategies are the only way you should conduct your business.
Jim Bell, CEO IFPA