You can create workout routines that are perfect for your baby boomer body armed with any of 6 exercise design principles. This post is the last in a 5 part series on creating the best workouts possible for the over 50 exerciser. (You will find links to Parts 1-4 at the end of this post).
Apply insider strategies professional fitness leaders use to give yourself the gift of life-enhancing fitness programs that are low risk, yet high reward. Let’s maintain function and expand, not shrink our world as we exercise.
We boomers — born between 1946-1964 — want to enjoy the second half of life actively, comfortably, and energetically. Yet we have five to seven decades of accumulated aches and pains. Do joint issues limit your ability to do certain activities? I know knee arthritis has forced me to make numerous activity changes, especially this past decade. Years of sitting, driving — of living life in front of our bodies — may have produced forward head misalignment, rounded shoulders, hunched posture, overly stretched or weak backs. While not elderly, frail, nor sedentary, we boomers are probably feeling the effects of the passing years.
Which brings us to the final program design principle in this series. In some ways you could argue that I saved the best for last. Yup, All About Abs!
Another, more technical way to word that is:
Challenge yourself to select abs exercises that involve no crunches. While the traditional crunch has its place and value, the last thing we 50-70 year olds need is more forward rounding. Nor is a 6-pack a primary goal for us. Instead, perform moves that keep your head on the mat or that have very little opportunity to forward flex the neck.Challenge yourself to select abs exercises that involve no crunches Click To Tweet
Work with, not against the anatomical reality of the abs: the Rectus Abdominis, Transversus, and Obliques are endurance, compression, and posture muscles. They are not designed for power (in contrast with the glutes and quads, which are power muscles, for example). Therefore emphasize postural, endurance and compression aspects of the abs. You may especially appreciate improving posture as you strengthen your core.
How many of us baby boomers already have forward head thrust, tight necks, rounded shoulders? Probably most, if you are typical older adults. When selecting abs exercises, simply ask yourself whether a given move exacerbates the above problems, is neutral, or counteracts them. The last option is ideal.
A few primary examples of suitable compression abs moves for boomers are planks and the reverse curl or reverse curl with an oblique rotation (bringing the right hip towards the left ribcage, for instance).
Another great option is the “Marching Abs” move where the upper body stays on the mat throughout. Legs are bent at 90 degrees at the knees; hips are fairly open with the feet close to the ground. You march the feet, holding the knee angle constant, alternating right and left foot marches. Depending on core strength and back issues, you may decide to march the feet from the ground to about a foot from the ground — the most challenging version. If you have trouble maintaining great form or have difficulty maintaining alignment, march in space. Draw your knees closer to your chest, close down some of the hip angle, and march with your feet anywhere from one to two feet from the ground.
Truth bomb — Ab exercises alone won’t work to whittle any waistline fat. You probably already know that spot reducing is a myth. However, having a stronger core, better posture, and less back pain are all yours when you add abs to your workout program. Especially the kinds of core and abs exercises we’ve been talking about that minimize neck flexion and maximize the way your body performs and feels (versus simply how it looks). Do check out what our Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50 offers. For one, you’ll get a LOT of great examples of moves that suit older adults and don’t depend on zillions of crunches. For you visual and kinesthetic learners, the program offers 23 videos of ab exercises as well.
To get to the whole kit and kaboodle of the “Create the Best Workouts” blog post series, click on the links below that take you to Parts 1-4, Principles 1-5. You can go in any order really.
ACTION: DON’T subscribe if you are not interested to receive weekly news on how you can make your second half of life an active one. Who needs one more email to delete from the inbox? However, if you DO want professional, insider strategies that will help you achieve your workout goals, this is your moment. Enter your email in any of the subscription boxes. See you weekly thereafter!
Kymberly Willliams-Evans, MA
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
An example of this mystery property in action is the reverse ab curl, aka a great and safe core exercise.
Before getting to our video and the answer to this intriguing Abs question, take a look at our recently released program: “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50” (over 23 videos, 10 modules, popular abs questions addressed). Check out the link if you want a stronger core and better abs. Moving on now to reverse curls.
Sing Along: We Got the Abs Right Here, The Method’s Oh So Dear, And Here’s Some Ladies Gonna Make it Very Clear. Can Do, Can Do, We Both Know That You Can Do (this exercise).
We’ll give you a hint. Then you can try the reverse curl exercise in our video that targets your lower fibers and strengthens your entire midsection. No neck flexion required. No crunches or planks involved. This is a fun and safe ab exercise.
Read This Hint
Kymberly: When you train your biceps, your hand moves towards your shoulder. But you don’t bring your shoulder to your hand, right?
When you target the hamstrings, for example, you contract the heel towards the buttocks. But you don’t bring your hiney to your heel.
Alexandra: Just wondering – what am I training if I ask a handsome guy to move his hand toward my shoulder?
Kymberly: Now picture a crunch and a reverse curl. In the former you lift your upper body in the direction of your lower body. With the reverse curl you … wait for it, wait for it .. you bring your lower body, or hips, towards your upper body.
Work in Both Directions
In other words, you can work the abs from the top down or the bottom up. Given the spine’s joint structure, you can train the abs in both directions. Double bonus, just like having twins answer your active aging questions!
In our 35 years each of teaching fitness on several continents, we know most people prefer to target the lower fibers when doing abs exercises. That means choosing exercises that contract, compress, or lift your hips towards your upper body – whether sitting or lying down. If that is your goal as well, then give this move a go. You’ll get so toned you’ll want to get out your white boots and fringe vest and go-go.
Watch This Video to Work From the Bottom, Up and Become Tops!
Just to make sure you really understand how to do this move, we’ve shown both correct and incorrect form.
We love subscribers. Hook your friends. Share this post. Have them subscribe so they can keep up with you.
The obliques come in two flavors: external and internal. We have a nifty graphic and a video demo of oblique crunches (no ball needed, and do NOT read that in a pervy way) in our previous post “Wrong and Right Way to do Oblique Ab Crunches.”
The external obliques run diagonally, forming a V in front. Imagine you’re putting your hands into a vest or front coat pocket. The internal obliques run at right angles to your external obliques and form an inverted V. Put your hands on your hips with your thumbs in front and fingers behind, pointing down as if putting your hands into back pockets.
Grab your mat or towel (or marginally clean area of your rug) and stability ball, and follow along with us in this video that demonstrates the right and wrong way to trim the waste from your waist![youtube]http://youtu.be/dpB3vA57zaw[/youtube]
What is your favorite exercise for the obliques? Trainers & instructors, feel free to add a link to your posts on this topic.
Side-to-Sidle on over to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness. Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please also follow us on google++Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.
Photo credit: Hey Paul Studios (blue & red corset)