Targeting the Abdominal

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 16,247
    Fitness Expert Jonathan Reff discusses targeting the abdominal muscles.

    Jonathan Reff

    Jonathan Reff is personal training director at Somafit, an upscale fitness studio and spa, as well as owner of Jonathan Reff Personal Training. Through Jonathan Reff Personal Training, Jonathan brings personal training and gym design to your home.

    Jonathan has been personal training in New York and the Washington D.C. area for over ten years. Jonathan holds certificatons from N.A.S.M. (National Academy of Sports Medicine) as well as A.C.E. (American Council on Exercise). In addition, Jonathan holds a second degree black belt in Olympic Taekwondo, a martial art in which he was nationally ranked at one point. Jonathan has worked with elite level to novice in both fitness and Olympic Taekwondo.

    Jonathan believes a healthy lifestlye is achieved through a healthy and happy mind and body.

    Please enjoy this video and feel free to contact Jonathan with any questions.

    Hi again, Jonathan here. Today, we are learning about weight loss through exercise and diet and we are going to get started on our abdominal push in or the workout our the dreaded abdominals or dreaded stomachs. Now, before we get started, I want to explain a little bit, the abdominals for both men and women I would say if, I were asked a number one problem spot for population s, general population s, stomach would be a and we need to speak a little bit about the anatomy of the stomach and how it works, it s biomechanics, how the muscles lay underneath your skin.

    So, basically the abdominals are broken up into four parts, five including your lower back which, when we speak about core which the core has become such a catch phrase these days. When someone is talking about the core, they are really talking about your abdominals as well as your lower back and even some of your hip flexes which would be your lower legs, but we are not going to talk about that today. So, talking about our abdominals, we are going to get started with our upper abdominals which is the uppermost portion of your stomach and right underneath your ribcage which we most know as our solar plexus.

    Then when we move down on Rectus abdominis which is the name of the muscle to our lower abdominals, from our lower abdominals, we move to obliques. There are two types of obliques, we have external obliques that move on a diagonal or lay on a diagonal in front of the body and our inner obliques that lay parallel to the ground. Then, that fifth part again would be the muscles of our lower back in our lumbar curve.

    Now, we are going to get started, we are going to just one piece of equipment here which is a stability ball, very easy to purchase either online or at your nearest retailer, but a great piece of equipment to have at home, very, very versatile. I would say virtually, hundreds of uses on this stability ball. We are going to work our way up to using the stability ball, we need to first determine that we are at a certain strength level to even be able to use this safely. So, I am going to roll this ball away, I am going to come down to lay on to the mat, I am going to take my feet in front of me, hip width apart. I am laying against so that my back is totally flat back, neck, shoulders and head, all resting comfortably on the floor.

    As far as my spine is concerned, I am in neutral position. Now, my lumbar curve which is the curve of my lower back which this section right here, I am going to maintain that curve just slightly. I don t want to over-accentuate or press it down on that too much because that, the tendency there is to injure the lower back or strain or pull something and we certainly, certainly don t want to do that. So, we are going to maintain ourselves in neutral spine, we are going to gently take the hands behind the head, I am going to interlace the fingers to capture my skull with my hands relaxed and elbows spread wide, I am going to get ready to strike my first crunch, my first abdominal crunch. We are going to do that by taking a deep breath into the nose. Now, as I take a deep breath into the nose, my stomach essentially is going to expand. Now, this is a big counterintuitive because we want to our first stop when we are exercising is to stay tight and while it s good to have a contracted stomach and tight abdominals. We need to breathing in a proper manner to make it as efficient as possible. So, I am going to keep my hands behind my head, I am going to breathe in and just slightly relax my stomach, just slightly. Again, as I exhale here, I am going to raise my forehead towards the ceiling. I am going to repeat that again. I am breathing in slowly on the way down and exhaling on the way up as my forehead is taken up towards the ceiling. Now, we are going to name the two parts, we are naming the forward motion, my positive motion and the downward motion, my negative motion. Now, on the positive, I am going to be exhaling again. As I exhale here though we are going to really engage the abdominals and you want to think about pulling your navel towards your spine or sucking your navel into the stomach.

    So, again, what causes that or what s how that feeling is brought about, that sensation is brought about by the abdominals, contracting and pulling that front of the stomach towards your spine. Now, again we are pulling the stomach in, but we are not manipulating the spine in anyway or pushing down on the spine and that s where your abdominals really come into play. Your abdominals are like that safety net that s going to protect your back. Now, the point at which you fatigue here and your abdominals stop working, you have then entered not so safe area, where your back is working a little too much. So, you need to be aware of that and not only when you are working abdominals or exercising in general, once you fatigue and your stomach is relaxed, it has a mind of its own, we need to stop and take a rest before we hurt ourselves in anyways we perform.

    So, now that I have established to that TVA, that Transverse Abdominus Activation from the floor, we are going to then move to a more challenging exercise on the stability ball. Now, I am seated on my ball and you will notice that my posture is from my waist up is long and against spine neutral. I am going to slowly take my both hands to either side of the ball, then slowly walk my feet out, so that I would begin to low to lay down on to the ball. Now, I am going to do this in such a way that my lower back, my lumbar curve gets support almost immediately. Now, if I reverse it and I were to do this too slowly, the more time my lower back spends in the air, the more tendency I have to be injured or strain something.

    So, we want to once we get comfortable on the ball, fairly quickly roll out so that the lower back is protected and guarded. Now, once my lower back is on the ball, you will see that half of my backside is on the ball, the other half is off. I am going to gently take my hands behind my head, elbows spread wide and again, breathing into the nose, I am going to exhale and pull my forehead towards the ceiling. Now, the idea with this even though it looks similar to that what, which we did on the floor, is that the stability is a lot of the stability from the floor that I had on the floor is lost by being on the ball. So, my stomach has to work twice as hard and I am also engaging the muscular churned anatomy of my hips, of my lumbar pelvic hip complex and I am really working hard and feeling a good burn here in my abdominals.

    I am working both lower and upper abdominals, if I wanted to go ahead and move to obliques or the side of the stomach, I could just add a twist. Again, as I am breathing, the upward motion for the most part is always going to be the positive, as a rule of thumb, the positive motion and the backward motion and the negative motion. So, I am breathing in, exhaling, breathing in, exhaling, regardless of whether I am moving forward or twisting side to side, that breathing is paramount, so that you are really working your abdominals as much as they can possibly be worked. That s about it for abdominals today. We are going to be moving on to circuit training, I hope to see you guys there.