We often focus so much on getting six pack abs (which, frankly, are simply not in the genetic cards for most of us), we forget the importance of a strong core in daily life. Yes, we want our abs to look good but if you want a strong, stable spine, you need more than crunches.
In fact, you may want to forget entirely about crunches since they aren't very functional. Think about it - how many times do you crunch your abs in the average day, beyond your workouts? Now, think about how many times you do rotational movements - Twisting to put on your seatbelt, turning around in your chair to answer the phone, turning around in the car to shout, "You will stop hitting your sister or I will pull this car over!"
Those twisting motions are part of every day life, so it's important to work those 'sidd-to-side' muscles to keep you strong and injury free. Below are some of my favorite rotational exercises:
Seated Torso Twists: Sit with knees bent holding a medicine ball or weight (mine is 4 lbs, but you can use a heavier one if you like). Lean back, keeping the back straight and rotate to the left, taking the medicine ball towards the floor. Come back to center and rotate to the right, repeating for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.
Seated Rotations: Sit tall on a ball or chair and hold weight (I'm using 8 lbs) at chest level, shoulders relaxed. Keeping the hips and knees facing forward, rotate the torso to the right as far as you comfortably can. Focus on squeezing the muscles around your waist. Rotate back to center and then to the left, keeping the movement slow and controlled. Continue alternating sides for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.
Woodchops: Attach one end of a resistance band to a sturdy object and hold the other end, taking a few steps away to create tension on the band. Rotate the body, keeping the arms straight and bringing them across the body in a diagonal. Rotate the hips and knees as you turn to avoid injuring the joints. Rotate back and repeat for 10-16 reps before switching sides.
What are your favorite functional ab exercises? Leave a comment and tell us about it.