This weekend’s challenge focuses on the transverse abdominis, a deep core muscle that tends to be neglected in favor of the more obvious and superficial “abs.” Despite its understated nature, the transverse abdominis plays an indispensable role in stability and balance.
Today’s exercise also targets the femur and its head, areas of keen interest for those who have taken bisphosphonates (which increase the risk of femoral fracture).
The Femur And Core Strengthening Leg Lift builds strength and stability; but don’t let the term “leg lift” scare you. While highly effective, today’s exercise is not the grueling experience that traditional leg lifts can be. In fact, exercising to the point of significant pain is actually counterproductive, while some muscle soreness is actually a good sign.
We’ll explore this apparent paradox and more in this weekend’s challenge.
Let’s get started!
The transverse abdominis is sometimes called the “corset muscle” because of the way it wraps around the waist. When it contracts, it gently draws the tummy and sides inward and lifts the torso as it stretches the vertebrae upward.
The transverse abdominis is a rather thin muscle that lies deep in the torso. It runs from the lower spine to the front of your abdomen, connecting to the crests of the pelvis and lower ribs in between. It is one of the larger core muscles and is essential for trunk stability as well as pelvic and spinal alignment.
The Femur And Core Strengthening Leg Lift targets this core muscle. In addition, it’s a low-impact move that works the hip joint and thigh, toning the muscles that run along the femur itself and hold the head of the femur firmly in the hip socket. As I am sure you know, bisphosphonate drugs such as Fosamax and Boniva weaken the femoral neck – the bridge of bone that connects the top of the femur to the head, or ball – greatly increasing the risk of an atypical fracture.
As you get ready to do this weekend’s challenge, bear in mind that it’s important to move slowly and keep your abdomen down as you perform this exercise. This ensures that the transverse abdominis gets utilized.
Grab an exercise mat and if you need it, a towel for neck support.
- Lie on the floor with your knees up and feet flat. Think of your ribs as being heavy and imagine their weight pressing your back flat against the floor. Don’t let your back arch and your tummy “pop up” during this exercise. Your pelvis should be in a neutral position, resting evenly on the floor.
- Take a deep breath. As you exhale, lift one leg until your thigh is perpendicular to the floor. Keep your knee bent.
- Hold the lift and take a deep breath, and then slowly exhale as you lower your leg back to the starting position.
- Repeat five to 10 times, or however many repetitions you can comfortably do.
- Switch sides and repeat another set of leg lifts.
If getting up and down off the floor is an issue, here are two Weekend Challenges that work the same muscle but without lying down:
These challenges are also excellent follow-ups to this weekend’s exercise. Make sure you go slowly and keep your tummy down against the floor in order to work that deep transverse abdominis and not just the abs.
As you begin to add more Weekend Challenges to your workout routine, you may begin to wonder how much exercise is too much.
No Pain, No Gain?
If any exercise causes sudden sharp pain, I recommend you stop doing it because that can indicate an injury or underlying problem. But there is a certain amount of pain involved in building muscle to build your bones that’s inevitable, and that’s okay. I’ll explain.
Building muscle requires a certain amount of muscle damage. When you feel a “burn” while working out, it means your muscle fibers are experiencing slight tears. The next day – or even two days later – your muscles will feel sore. This is nothing to be concerned about, and it’s actually a good sign. Pain related to injuries rarely takes two days to manifest (it’s typically immediate), and soreness means the muscles have been challenged.
That sore feeling may keep you from wanting to do any rigorous exercise the day after working out, and that’s actually a good thing. Your muscle fibers build and recover during rest, becoming bigger and stronger. That’s why it’s so important to take breaks.
To give your muscles this critical rest time, the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System is practiced three times a week for 15 minutes. As your muscles grow accustomed to the workouts, soreness will be less of a factor. At that point, you’ll be maintaining muscle, which is just as important as building it. And, of course, you can always supplement your Densercises with the Weekend Challenges and weight-bearing activities such as walking or running.
Densercise™ has more than 50 muscle-strengthening, bone-building exercises, so there’s plenty of variety to build muscle and bone all over your body, particularly in areas that are prone to fracture (such as the wrists, ankles, and hips). And because different areas are worked each week, it gives your muscles time to recover while you build another area.
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In sum, challenging your muscles causes slight damage that ultimately results in stronger muscle fibers; but working out to the point of extreme pain or muscle fatigue is counterproductive.
As always, I love to hear from you about your experience with this weekend’s challenge. Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts with the community.
Have a great weekend!