Weekend Challenge: Seated Abs And Hips Strengthener
This weekend’s exercise is a highly effective move that’s done while seated in a chair. It’s a great way to take a break from your desk work or from your daily occupation.
The Seated Abs And Hips Strengthener targets the abdominal muscles and hip flexors, which are part of the core muscles. They are pivotal for balance, pelvic alignment, posture, and a host of other motions and movements.
This move is quite challenging, but very convenient, since you can do it just about anytime, anywhere. And convenience helps you stay motivated to exercise regularly.
In fact, a fascinating study reveals a remarkably effective yet simple trick for helping you stay committed to your exercise goals.
So let’s begin by taking a look at why this exercise is so good for your core muscles and the pelvic bones, and how to stay inspired to keep working out.
The muscles that make up the core may surprise you. They are not just the muscles of your “middle.” They include the hip flexors and abdominals, which are located in your torso approximately between your pelvis and shoulder blades. The core is so called because it is so central – nearly every movement of the torso and legs stems from the core.
Your core is something like a command center. Movements like raising your legs, turning your torso, bending at your waist, even sitting and standing all originate in your core muscles. You may not realize it, but the following everyday motions all involve your core:
- Getting dressed
- Stepping in and out of the bathtub and shower
- Bending over to pick something up off the floor
- Going up and down stairs
- Sitting up and lying down
- Sitting down and getting up from a chair
- Putting on your shoes
- Turning to look behind you
Even though this is a parital list, it shows you how often you call upon this important group of muscles on a daily basis. That’s because the core muscles are located in central areas of your body, which we’re going to look at next.
The abdominal muscles of the core include the rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis, and the obliques. Today’s challenge works the rectus abdominis and the transverse abdominis.
The rectus abdominis is a trunk flexor muscle. It originates at the base of your breast bone and the fifth, sixth, and seventh ribs, and inserts at the front of the pelvis at the crest of the pubic bone. They are actually a pair of muscles that go down the front of your belly; they form the “six pack” in body builders.
The transverse abdominis lies more deeply than the rectus abdominis. The transverse abdominis has many attachment points, but generally speaking, it originates along the cartilage of ribs seven through twelve and the iliac crest (the top of the hip bones). It then attaches to the pubic crest, the linea alba (the strip of cartilage between the abdominal muscles that runs down the middle of your belly), and the cartilage at the base of the breast bone.
As you can see, these muscles share some attachment points with the rectus abdominis, and those areas of the skeleton (ribs and various points on the pelvis) are strengthened by working these muscles.
Moving downward in the core, we find the hip flexors. This group of muscles includes the iliopsoas (or psoas), the muscles of the inner and upper thigh, and the gluteal muscles (buttocks). Because they connect your hips to your femur bones, your hip flexors are of the utmost importance for your legs and hips to experience a full range of motion. Moving your legs from side to side, backward, and up toward your chest all require your hip flexors.
In addition, your hip flexors play a significant role in stabilizing your lower back and hips, increasing bone density in these important areas and preventing misalignment and pain.
So let’s take a look at how to do this bone-strengthening exercise.
You’ll need a light weight (less than 5 pounds) for the Seated Abs And Hips Strengthener – a water bottle works fine. You can also do this without a weight.
While you’re seated in your chair:
- Sit forward on the front edge of your seat. Place your feet flat on the floor with the weight between them.
- Lean back in your chair and hold on to the edge of the seat with your hands.
- Pick up the weight with your feet and bring your knees up toward your chest.
- Lower your legs back down and lightly touch your feet to the ground.
- Repeat the leg lifts eight to ten times, or however many repetitions feel comfortable for you.
- Keep your back relaxed.
- Resist the temptation to arch your back forward or back; it should be straight and relaxed.
- If you can’t lift your knees very high, don’t worry; you can work up to lifting them closer to your chest.
Because this exercise is conveniently done while sitting on a chair, it’s easier to include this move in your daily routine. And that’s important, because it’s all too easy to “fall off the wagon” when it comes to exercise motivation.
Research Reveals This Effective “Trick” To Keep Exercising
Interestingly, scientists have discovered that intention is much more effective than just trying to find ways to get motivated in following through with your plans to exercise regularly.
Here’s what they did to come to this conclusion. Two hundred and forty-eight people were divided into three groups.
Groups I and II were both told to keep track of how much they exercised over the next two weeks. After receiving these instructions, Group I was given a few paragraphs of a novel to read; Group II was given a motivational pamphlet on the benefits of exercise.
Group III was given the same information as Group II, including the pamphlet, so the motivation between Groups II and III would be the same. The difference was intention: Group III was told to make a clear plan that included a specified amount of time (20 minutes), the kind of exercise (vigorous), and the day, time, and place they intended to do it.
At the end of the study, Groups I and II had similar results: 38% and 35%, respectively, of the participants exercised about once a week. But 91% of the participants in Group III exercised at least once a week.1
What made the huge difference? Intention.
The Densercise™ Epidensity Training System fits this approach perfectly.
Because exercise is so important for bone health, Densercise™ is simple, effective, and convenient all at once.
Densercise™ is organized in a four-week layout that takes just 15 minutes a day, three days a week. This is the perfect setup for intentionality – you can plug in those 15 minutes any three days of the week that work for you, so you can design your own intentional exercise plan one week or month at a time.
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I’d love to hear how this weekend’s exercise worked for you! Please feel free to share your experience with the community by leaving a comment below.
Have a great weekend!
1Milne, Sarah; Orbell, Sheina; and Sheeran, Paschal. “Combining motivational and volitional interventions to promote exercise participation: Protection motivation theory and implementation intentions.” British Journal of Health Psychology. 7.2 (2002): 163-184. Doi: 10.1348/135910702169420. Web. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1348/135910702169420/abstract