Over the past two weeks, the world has watched its best athletes stretch themselves to the limits of human capacity. Records that were once thought to be unimaginable and unobtainable are regularly broken during practice sessions.
The talented young men and women competing in London are the fastest, strongest and smartest competitors this planet has to offer. But their gifts come at a price - behind every amazing display of athleticism lies thousands of hours of grueling physical practice.
While each sport requires specific training regimens to rise to the top, most coaches and players can identify one critically important common denominator in the recipe for success – a strong core.
The word core has taken on a broad definition over the last ten or so years and has come to include a number of different body regions. But the one area that is perennially a problem for both athletes and gym-goers alike is the stomach.
It’s true that a washboard stomach with a chiseled six pack may not be a realistic goal unless you’re an Olympian, but you can strengthen and tone your core and tone up using the same exercises they do, so read on to see the top five ab exercises you can do in a gym or at home.
Crunches over a physio ball may be the single best abdominal exercise readily available to do at home or in the gym. Allowing for maximum elongation and contraction of your abs with your spine supported, ball-crunches can make your abs pop and should be a staple of any sto
Torso twists wi
th a medicine ball or a pulley system work your obliques and that notoriously hard-to-target “love handle” area. Using light weights and keeping your trunk stiff, twist from side to side using only the muscles of your trunk. Keeping your hips still will help you feel the burn on the sides of your core.
Leg lifts not only work your stomach, they work your hips and thighs too. Lying on your back with your feet and knees extended and together, lift them together as high as you can. Lower them slowly to the floor and repeat. If a standard leg lift is a bit too difficult at the start, bend your knees a little – it will make the exercise easier.
Standard crunches are the mainstay of most abdominal programs. Lie on your back with
your knees bent up and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head to support your neck. Pick a point on the ceiling and lift your chest up to it without moving your low back.
“V” sitting is a Pilates exercise that works nearly all the muscles of your core and your thighs at the same time.
Sitting on the edge of a gym bench or your bed at home, lift your legs off the ground and place your arms out straight in front of you. You should be balanced on your sit-bones and shouldn’t feel stress in your lower back.
Gloucester resident Joe DiVincenzo is a physical therapist and clinical specialist in manual therapy. He writes “On the Mend” weekly. Questions may be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.