Spinal Extension Exercises - balance out your abs exercises
Six packs and flat stomachs are, for many people, their aesthetic goal through fitness. But are they sabotaging their chances of achieving them by focussing too strongly on abs exercises without putting in the work elsewhere.
In day-to-day life, we spend much of our time in a forward, slouching posture - especially if you're a desk worker. Combining this slouched posture with high reps of abdominal exercises such as crunches will only act to increase your poor posture (and hide the abs that you're trying to show off!).
That's why we've put together these Spinal Extension Exercises to balance out your abs:
Bridge - this isometric exercise is a good entry level exercise to work on your spinal extension; keep pushing your hips up and squeeze your glutes to make sure you maintain good form and increase the stretch on your abs. If you feel it's not stretching you out - squeeze your shoulder blades together and you'll stretch your abs and pecs.
T-raise with Swiss Ball - exercise balls can be really useful for spinal extension exercises, you can add weights to this T-raise to in increase the resistance and workload for the muscles in your upper back and shoulders. T-raise exercises will help stretch out your pectoral muscles in your chest and improve your posture.
Crab - people often struggle with the crab if they have not been including flexibility and spinal extension exercises into their fitness routines. It's like the big brother of the bridge and is an excellent spinal extension exercise. To get started, you can support yourself on an exercise ball to help progress to the unsupported crab.
Helene C demonstrating the unsupported raised crab: note she is increasing the stretch on her abs by going onto tip-toe
Cobra pose - yoga postures usually come in pairs, the cobra pose compliments the downward facing dog pose and works to stretch your abs whilst strengthening the muscles in your back. Making sure your training includes complimenting exercises will ensure you have well balance muscle distribution.
Want a bigger Challenge than the Cobra pose? Check out the King Cobra pose which stretches out your abs and quads by lifting your feet round to touch your head - definitely one which requires a warm up first!
- Foam Rolling - using a foam roller after a workout or on a rest day it an excellent way to reduce muscle tension and help recovery. It's also an exercise tool which works with complimenting movements and is especially beneficial to reduce tightness which may cause you to have poor posture. Here's an awesome infographic from Greatist on How to Foam Roll like a Pro!
How do you balance your abs workouts? Share your tips in the comments below!
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