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Let’s recap! So far this year, following along on this blog, you’ve done:
It is now my pleasure to introduce to you one of my best friends – the abdominal twist! I love this exercise, and spend a lot of time with it. We watch movies together, listen to music together, sometimes we even sleep together! I think you guys are going to get along real well.
Twist has been called “One of the Best Abdominal Exercises You’re Not Doing.” That’s because we treat our core the way we treat all our muscles: strengthening by shortening and tightening. By doing a ton of concentric and eccentric (crunch type exercises, oblique curls, or roll ups/downs) and isometric (planks) exercises we are creating some short tight muscles that don’t have yield.
Yield is important because for a muscle to have force (read strength) it needs to be long enough to enable the sliding filaments to overlap and draw the ends of the muscle together. If they are already close together, or if the muscle is adapted to a short position (leading to less range of motion), there is just not the same amount of force possible. You need to have muscles that start generating force from a certain length to optimize the possible force generation. Make a loose fist and then make a tighter fist. Now extend your fingers and from there make a tight fist – it’s kind of like this – you bring more parts to the movement. We need to be able to measure how much yield the core muscles have and the twist is our tool to measure this.
HOW: Lie on your back with legs extended and arms outstretched. Bend right knee and place foot on the floor. Scoot your pelvis over a few inches to the right. Then take the right foot off the floor, bringing the knee over the hip. Start to lower the right leg over your body to the left. Let the pelvis start to lift and then pause for a second. Take stock of your rib cage position. Here’s the thing: the twist is only a twist if the pelvis moves relative to the rib cage. The ribs must stay stationary! Only take the right leg over as far as you can before the ribs start to lift too. Then stop and hang out for a minute. Roll back to your back, center the pelvis before repeating on the left side.
ADVANCED: Add an arm angel with the arm you are twisting away from, rolling your arm up and down along the floor. Watch that the ribs stay relaxed.
MODIFY: bolster bolster bolster. I can’t say it enough. Bolster bolster. See?
Place cushions under your knee and lower leg to rest it instead of holding it in the air. Wedge something behind your pelvis so you don’t roll back down. Bolster under your head and shoulders if you extend or lift the ribs up when you twist. KEEP THE RIBS DOWN.
WHEN: You do need to lie on the floor for this one, so probably at home, in bed or on the floor or if you have a work out space, put your mat down and twist on the floor.
HOW OFTEN: Whenever you can! If you find you don’t have much range here, do this one often. It’s so pleasurable usually, that it’s not hard to convince people to just do it. Hold each side for at least a minute or more if you have the time, or go back and forth a few times from right to left and back again.
ps Note sleeping cats!
pps You may be very different from side to side.
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