How can you improve the strength of your abs without even doing an ab exercise?
First, let’s test to see how the muscles of the abdominal group are being used. Lay down on your back, have the knees slightly bent, and hook your feet under something stable that can hold your body weight. After you are in position, cross both hands across your chest - at this point take a mental note of how the body is feeling and what muscles are being used. Now perform 5 crunches or what your body can manage.
How did that feel? The muscles that work together to perform a crunch should be the the psoas (hip flexor), quads, and abdominal group. If you found tension or cramping in other areas, you may not be efficiently using your abs. To strengthen the connection to the right muscle groups we may need to release some tension in other areas of the body. Follow the next steps for improved movement to optimise ab strength.
Step 1 - Neck Muscles
A lot of the time I find the neck gets overused through a crunch movement so first we need to release a point on the front of the chest and a point between the shoulder blades. You can use your fingers or thumbs to release these points but I prefer a massage ball. Point 1 is found at the top of the chest, just down from the middle of the collar bone. Point 2 is found just below the top of your shoulder blade, between your spin and shoulder blade. Spend at least 20 seconds massaging these areas; you may find they are a bit tender.
Step 2 - Inner thigh muscles
When the quads and abs get fatigued sometimes the knees will knock inwards together resulting in a build up of fascial tissue which ultimately restricts the proper movement of muscles of inner thigh. You can release both inner thighs together or one at a time. First start with little chopping actions starting from the medial part of the knee and working your way up to the top of the inner thigh, work this for about 10 seconds. Then using thumbs or fingers massage the same areas, pay particular attention to the medial muscle around the knee. Now using an opened hand, vigorously build up friction in the same area for about 10 seconds.
Step 3 - Breathing
We need to set up a good breathing pattern in order to supply our muscles with oxygen. Follow the steps in the “Do you know how to breathe “article in order to take 3 proper breaths.
Once the breaths have been completed, get yourself set up for another 5 crunches making sure to breathe through the movement as well. How does this feel from the first time? Now the movement should feel easier and smoother. The body is now moving more efficiently and the right muscles are firing at the right time. When your body works together as a team, rather then individual muscles trying to dominate a movement, the body will be more efficient and you will find it easier to perform any physical task. So to improve ab strength: release neck muscles, activate ab muscles with inner thigh massage, and breathe. Make sure to incorporate more upright movements like squats and lunges into your workouts. These movements are more functional for abdominal strength rather then the traditional ground exercises.