Fitness: Best Supporting Action

Building a stronger midsection will make your whole body feel better.

Doing abs exercises to get rid of your belly is an exercise in futility. Consider this: To burn off a pound of weight, researchers estimate you would have to crank out 250,000 sit-ups.

That would take you roughly seven years at 100 crunches a day. It’ll take your son less time to complete his rank requirements for Eagle Scout! But there are better reasons for exercising your abs than losing a little middle jiggle.

Your abdominals and lower-back muscles, collectively called your core, are involved in just about every move you make. This girdle of muscles supports your spine so you can crawl out of bed in the morning and stand erect.

Whether you pick up a baby or a sack of kitty litter, you call upon your core muscles. When you do a J-stroke with a canoe paddle, you rely on your abs. While standing at attention during the Scout Oath or Pledge of Allegiance, your core muscles keep your posture arrow-straight. And if you complain of a bad back, chances are that weak core muscles are part of your problem.

In fact, in a study at California State University, people who followed a 10-week core exercise program reported 30 percent less lower back pain.

Back pain or not, your core is critical to being an active Scouter. So, work these exercises into your fitness routine twice a week to flex and strengthen this pivotal area of your body. Start with one round of eight to 10 repetitions, taking about 30 seconds of rest between exercises. After a month, try to do the circuit without any rest between moves. In two months, try for a second circuit of these exercises after resting one minute between rounds.

Jeff Csatari is the best-selling co-author, along with David Zinczenko of The New Abs Diet Cookbook: Hundreds of Power-Food Meals That Will Flatten Your Stomach and Keep You Lean for Life.


LEG-LOWERING DRILL

1. Lie on your back on the floor with your arms out to your sides and palms up. Keeping your feet together, bend your knees to 90-degree angles and raise your legs until they are over your hips.

2. Bracing your abdominals, press your lower back into the floor as you slowly lower your legs. Take three to five seconds to lower your feet to within an inch of the floor or until your lower back starts to arch. Allow your heels to touch and then raise your legs back to the starting position. That’s one repetition.

Do 8 to 10.


SUPERMAN

1. Lie face down with your arms extended straight out in front of your head, palms down.

2. Lift your arms, head, and chest while also lifting your legs. Hold that position for two seconds and then lower to the starting position.

Do 8 to 10 repetitions.


SINGLE-LEG HIP RAISE

1. Lie on your back with arms out to your sides and palms up. Bend your left knee and keep that foot flat on the floor. Straighten your right leg and lift it until your right thigh is parallel with your left thigh.

2. Raise your hips upward, keeping your right leg elevated and your body straight from shoulders to your right foot. Squeeze your buttocks and abdominals as you hold this position for two seconds. Release to the floor and repeat.

Do 8 to 10 repetitions and then repeat the exercise with your right knee bent and left leg elevated straight.


 

SIDE PLANK

Lie on your right side with your legs straight. Prop yourself up with your right elbow and forearm. Contract your core as if preparing to be punched in the gut.

Raise your hips until your body forms a straight, diagonal line from your feet to your shoulders. Rest your left hand on your hip. Hold this position for five seconds, breathing deeply, then release and repeat four more times.

Repeat the five-rep exercise while on your left side. If this move is too difficult with your legs straight, try it with your legs bent and knees on the floor


 

GOOD MORNING FOR LOWER BACK

1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold a broomstick or empty barbell across your shoulders behind your head, resting on the trapezius muscles of the upper back.

2. Lower your upper body while pushing your hips back until your back is nearly parallel with the floor. Pause a second, then lift your torso up and return to the standing-straight position.

That’s one repetition. Do 8 to 10.

Model: Juan Castillo

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