Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this weekend’s challenge! It looks easy, but it’s very effective at flattening and toning your abdominals. And if you’re up for more of a challenge, there’s an advanced version as well.
The Lower Abdomen Flattener And Strengthener can be done in bed, on the couch, or on the floor, making this a great move that you can fit easily into your day. So let’s get started!
Abdominal workouts are usually associated with appearance, especially with swimsuit season right around the corner in the Northern Hemisphere. But strong, toned “abs” are about much more than looking good on the beach or at the pool. It may surprise you to learn that your abdominal muscles have a great deal to do with your bone health.
The abdominals run deep, including much more than just the obvious belly area. They help stabilize the spine and pelvis, attaching directly to the ribs, vertebrae, and hip bones. They help hold your organs in place and promote proper organ function, including (and especially) digestion. And last but not least, your abs make up a large portion of your core and are thus closely involved in proper posture.
Your core is like a column that connects your upper and lower body, so bone-healthy posture and reliable balance are impossible without a functional core. In fact, all movements and motions of your trunk – bending, turning, twisting, sitting up, etc. – are dependent upon the core muscles.
Clearly, when it comes to avoiding falls that could break your bones, posture and balance are indispensable! Additionally, posture and balance promote an aligned skeleton and healthful skeletal stress that stimulates bone growth.
What Bones Are Strengthened By This Exercise?
There are two main areas of the skeleton that are targeted by the Lower Abdomen Flattener And Strengthener: the pelvis and lower back vertebrae (the lumbar and sacrum specifically).
There’s no need to reiterate the importance of pelvic strength in preventing the hip fractures so dreaded by all of us. I’m sure you’re aware that while avoiding all fractures is the goal, hip fractures can be especially devastating.
Today’s move is done while lying on your back, so your pelvis is automatically stabilized before you begin. Then, as you perform the exercise, you’ll engage your hip flexors, low back muscles, and the abdominals connected to your pelvis (specifically, the internal and external obliques and the transversus and rectus abdominus) to draw your leg toward you (more on how to do the exercise later).
This motion also works your femur right at the hip joint and targets all of the muscles that work together to stabilize and mobilize your pelvis and lower back. These are areas of keen interest to Savers – in fact, we receive many e-mails from Savers wishing to increase bone density in the hips and low back vertebrae. The Lower Abdomen Flattener And Strengthener is one way to help build up these key areas. So let’s take a detailed look at how to do it!
If you’re not lying down in bed or on the couch, a carpeted floor or exercise mat makes this move more comfortable. We’ll start with the basic version, and then directions for the advanced version will follow.
- Lie flat on your back with your legs straight out and your arms at your sides.
- Engage your deep abdominal muscles by gently pulling your tummy downward toward the floor.
- Slowly bend one knee – let’s say the right knee for clarity – to bring your right heel toward your bottom, keeping that heel lightly touching the floor as you do so. Keep the movement slow and controlled so that it takes approximately five seconds for your heel to reach your bottom. Your left leg stays flat on the floor.
- Slowly straighten your right knee to return your right foot back to the starting position.
- Alternate from right to left leg and complete the move 8-10 times on each side. Try to complete 3 sets.
For a greater challenge, perform the above exercise with one difference: hold the resting leg a few inches up off the floor. So if you’re bending your right knee, you’ll be holding up your left leg and vice versa. You’ll definitely feel your abs working!
To round out your abdominal and core workout, we recommend following this exercise with some of these other Weekend Challenges:
You can also follow up with your regular Densercise™ routine, or add this and other Weekend Challenges to the moves in the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System, which also includes plenty of abdominal exercises.
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I’d love to hear from you about this exercise. Feel free to leave a comment below to share your experience with the community.
Have a great weekend!