Tutorial: SummerABS Stretch Back
This is the first and the primary exercise of my SummerABS workout. When executed properly, this fundamental exercise will teach your body to naturally work your abs in flattening ways; with emphasis on working from the bottom of the muscle rather than the top, which has until now been the norm. When doing it this way, the whole muscle is always engaged; this makes all the difference and is the foundation of what I will teach you here with SummerABS. The results speak for themselves; flatten that lower pouch and define your midriff.
I will be spending a fair amount of time going over the form for this exercise both here and in the video; staying accurate to the technique and posture with this exercise sets the stage for success with all subsequent SummerABS exercises and beyond. I want to build for you a solid foundation for the series to come, for future core exercises and a path towards continuous abdominal improvement.
Like all SummerABS exercises, the proper form is vastly more important than the number of reps; a maximum of ten reps, in two to ten sets. Remember that more is not better; if your abs feel fully engaged and you are executing the motion and the breathing well, that is what is important. Stand up between each set and see if you feel a “drawn-in, taller” sensation from deep inside without tucking your pelvis under. If so, you have found that SummerABS feeling.
In the video, we are demonstrating this exercise on a Physio Ball (Also known as an exercise ball, fitness ball, stability ball, etc.). If you find yourself feeling a little anxious due to instability, you can substitute the exercise ball with a Bosu-ball instead.
While it is not ideal to do this exercise on the floor without an exercise or Bosu-ball, you can still use it as a means to practice proper breathing techniques for when you do not have access to either. If you have a folded yoga mat, a large pillow, etc. you can position yourself on it as if it were the ball or Bosu; it will not be the same, but it will still provide results.
Proper Posture, Technique and Tips
- Take a seat on the ball, and walk forward until your lower back is on the ball. Lie on your back over the ball from your buttocks to head, making sure your back stays flat along the curve of the ball, so that your abs can be isolated.
- Reach your hands behind your head, folding them at the place where your neck meets your skull.
- Relax your neck and upper shoulders; pull the outside of your shoulder blades down towards your waist.
- Keep your elbows slightly in front of your ears, enough so that you can easily see them in your peripheral vision.
- Place your feet slightly wider than your hips with your knees tracking directly over the middle toes. Bend your knees at about a 90-110 degree angle.
- Start to exhale as you initiate in the lower abdomen at the very lowest point of your abs and make a scoop. Fully exhale as you come up, concave from the pubis going towards your solar plexus. Aim for coming up 20 degrees past flat and keep this solely in your abs; do not lift your body off the ball.
- While performing the above motion, squeeze your glutes without tucking your pelvis under and come up, allowing your abs to fall in. A helpful visual for this motion is to imagine a souffle falling in. Hold the position for a second or two at the apex of the motion, and concave your abdomen even further.
- Stretch back over the ball, returning to the position where you are lying over it, inhaling throughout this motion.
- If at any point during this exercise you feel discomfort in your back, reposition yourself on the ball by either walking forward or pushing yourself back over the ball.
To get back up from the ball when finished with a set, reach your arms forward and walk your way back up.
Remember to keep a strong focus on your breathing throughout the exercise.
Summer: Juicy Couture
Meegan Descheneaux (Demonstrator): H&M
Stay tuned for even more SummerABS exercises in the weeks to come, including full workouts!