Fitness HEALTH & WELLNESS recent-post2  >  When the Six Pack of Your Youth Becomes a Keg – Midsection Exercises Part 2

When the Six Pack of Your Youth Becomes a Keg – Midsection Exercises Part 2

When the Six Pack of Your Youth Becomes a Keg – Midsection Exercises Part 2
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By Michael Spitzer

More Midsection exercises. Today – leg raises and hyperextensions.

Leg Raises

leglifts

 

 

 

 

 

leg raise

 

Starting Position

Lie on your back on the floor. Form a triangle shaped cradle with your hands and place them beneath your buttocks to offer lower back support. Extend your legs straight out with your knees only slightly bent.

Movement

While exhaling, slowly raise your legs using your lower abdominal muscles until they are not quite perpendicular to the ground. While inhaling, slowly lower your legs until your heels are just 1-2” off the floor. Do not allow your heels to touch the floor. Once again slowly raise your legs to the top position. Repeat this movement for the desired number of repetitions.

 

Comments

In the movement description for this exercise, you will notice it mentioned that your heels should not touch the floor at any time during your repetitions. Additionally, we stress not letting your legs rise all the way to a 90 degree angle. Our goal is to keep tension on the lower abdominals during the full movement and duration of the exercise. Resting the heels on the floor or raising the legs until they are at a perfect 90 degree angle, will take the workload off the abdominals.

Toning the lower abdominals is important but often neglected by many people who only focus on doing sit up motions. In fact, most people experience weakness and sagging of the lower abdominals with age. The lower abdominal region around the navel is where many people complain they first notice “belly bulge”.

Hyperextensions for Lower Back

hyper 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hyper

 

Starting Position

I want to make a special cautionary note that people with a history of lower back or disc problems should consult their doctor before performing this exercise.

Lie face-down on the hyperextension bench. Secure your ankles under the support pads. Lean forward such that your upper thighs rest on the main padding. Be sure the pad is not too high. Your waist should be able to freely bend forward from the hips. You should not be placing any pressure on the lower abdomen or laying on your stomach in any way. You should only feel your weight being supported by the upper thighs. Cross your arms in front of your chest.

Movement

While exhaling, slowly bend forward at the waist as far as you can while keeping a slight arch in your back. Your back should not be bowed during this movement. At the bottom position, you will be suspended with your head near the floor. Once you have reached the bottom, slowly raise your upper body until the legs and torso form a straight line similar to when you are in a standing position. Do NOT exaggerate the upwards movement by raising yourself too far into a backwards bend. You want to bend fully forward, but only rise to a straight position.

You should feel the work being performed by your lower back. You may also feel the hamstrings of the rear leg contributing to the effort. Beginners may not be able to complete the desired number of repetitions of this exercise at one time. Start with as many as you can do using proper form and work up to the desired number of repetitions.

Comments

The Hyperextension is an excellent exercise to strengthen and improve stability in the lower back. This movement directly works the spinal erectors with secondary benefit extending to the glutes and hamstrings.

For many individuals who suffer occasional back problems, but have no diagnosed spinal or disc damage, the cause is often a weakness in the spinal erector muscles. As the name implies, the spinal erectors primarily function to extend your torso. They also allow you to straighten up when leaning forward. When contracting, these muscles assist in keeping your torso stable.

Often times when somebody says “my back went out”, they may not have any actual structural flaw in the vertebrae or discs but are probably experiencing a fatigue in the spinal erectors.

Allow me to relate a personal story. When I was in my 30s, I went thru a period of many years where I was not eating properly or exercising regularly. I was working 7 days per week, 12-16 hours per day trying to build a new business with some partners. It was the typical tough entrepreneurial business start-up. During times like this, we sometimes fail to take care of ourselves as we throw everything we have into the venture.

One day, a chair broke as I was sitting down. I hit the floor with a force that sent a jolting pain shooting thru my lower back. For the next few years, whenever I would do yard work or other extended physical activity I would get to the point where I could hardly stand up straight.

At times, the pain was so bad I would be on my knees on the floor. On other occasions, I was just trying to find a comfortable way to lie on the floor to rest my back.

The Doctors confirmed that I had no serious damage, yet the problem with back pain and frequent weakness continued. Around that time I heard about hyperextensions being used by physical therapists and professional boxers as a way to strengthen the lower back. I started doing this movement several times per week in an attempt to rehabilitate and strengthen my own lower back.

I have continued performing this motion 2-3 times per week over the years. Today, 20 years later, I have no lower back problems and actually feel better than I did in 1993. I can spend a whole day pushing a wheel barrow around the yard laying sod and bags of red mulch on a one acre property and have no lower back discomfort. As a younger man two decades ago, that kind of heavy duty yard work would have left me crippled and hurting for several days.

To summarize …
The hyperextension is a great exercise to strengthen the spinal erectors and may help you avoid ever facing lower back problems. For those people who already suffer from lower back issues, this movement may be beneficial in diminishing discomfort and restoring functionality.

But again, due to the unique medical histories we all live with, you should discuss with your doctor if this exercise is a good idea for your personal condition.

S

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