Having functional abs is important for activities of daily living. Take a look at this functional approach to training your abs.
First, warm up with 2–3 minutes of low planks and slow, controlled supine spinal-flexion and prone spinal-extension exercises. Next, do the following five exercises. You will need Gliding™ discs or anything that slides easily on the floor (paper plates or furniture sliders, for example). Perform each move for 45 seconds, with a 15-second transition time, for a total of 5 minutes. Repeat once and then finish with a 2- to 3-minute cool down.
• Sit with thoracic spine extended, knees bent.
• Place one disc between knees to engage hip and spinal stabilizers, and hold another disc between hands.
• Rotate thoracic spine right and left. Keep arms chest-height, centered with sternum.
Prone Plank/Mud Crawl
• Start in plank with disc under each foot.
• Have elbows directly under shoulders, arms parallel and aligned.
• Extend legs and hips; spine is neutral.
• Brace core, and gaze at fingers.
• “Walk” forearms back four steps, then forward to original position.
• Modification: Move back and forth only two steps or simply hold plank.
• Sit with knees bent, stacked to R side, weight shifted slightly to R hip.
• Place disc under R hand, R arm fully extended.
• Slide disc R, abducting R shoulder. Use obliques, lats and shoulder adductors to slide disc back to original position.
• Switch sides at halfway mark.
• Modification: Decrease range of motion.
Prone Lat Pull
• Lie prone, arms extended, shoulders flexed overhead, each hand on a disc.
• Let legs be extended, slightly abducted and laterally rotated.
• Lift abdominals, then use lats and abs to slide arms under shoulders.
• Keep shoulder stabilizers engaged by depressing scapulae and staying broad through chest.
• Slowly lower body back to floor, abdominals engaged.
• Modification: Focus on lifting abdominals away from floor
• Sit in V-position, thoracic spine extended, knees bent, legs adducted.
• Have both arms straight, hands on discs.
• Roll straight down and back, flexing spine one vertebra at a time until lumbar spine and bottom back ribs are on floor. Simultaneously slide arms to sides, slightly above shoulders.
• Use abdominals and obliques to roll up (peel spine off floor) to original V-position.
• Progression: Roll to side-lying position and then return to V-position. Regression: Decrease range of motion.