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No More Crunches! No More Back Pain!

The Ab Revolution
By Dr. Jolie Bookspan

TM

How to Use Your ABS All the Time for Real Life
Burn calories, work your abs, and save your back while doing your everyday activities. Used by military and law enforcement and the nations top spine docs and rehab centers

2003 by Dr. Jolie Bookspan, Neck and Back Pain Sports Medicine. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author. ISBN: 1-4107-4528-7 (E-book) ISBN: 1-4107-4527-9 (Paperback) ISBN: 1-4107-4526-0 (Dust Jacket) Library of Congress Control Number: 2003092486 This book is printed on acid free paper.

Printed in the United States of America Bloomington, IN Nothing in this book is meant as specific medical advice or exercise instruction. See your physician, get training, and use your brain before attempting anything presented. The Ab Revolution Method, name, and information are trademarked and part of the Fitness Therapy series, including Lower Body Revolution. To teach or distribute this method in any way, contact the author for permissions and training materials.
1stBooks rev. 7/28/03

Dedication

To my Grandmother the Gypsy, who taught me to spot snake-oil, and who taught me about real exercise, posture, and health from my earliest years. She got her college degree at age 81. To her the highest things in life were education and Jack LaLane. To my mother who I promised I would find how to end back pain. To my students and patients who all really feel better and work their abs more using this method, and showed me how needed it is. To my wonderful husband and hero Paul. What beautiful abs you have, my dear.

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Table of Contents

Dedication..................................................................................................... iii Table of Contents .......................................................................................... v Revolution! .................................................................................................... 1 Why Do Abs? ................................................................................................ 3 Using Abs Doesnt Mean Sucking Them In or Making Them Tight ..... 4 What Exactly Do Abs Do? ............................................................................ 5 How Do Abs Control Posture? ...................................................................... 6 Abs are Your Guy Wires from the Front ....................................................... 9 What is Lordosis? ........................................................................................ 10 How Do Abs Help Your Back? ................................................................... 12 What About the Ab Study?.......................................................................... 15 Whats Wrong with Crunches?.................................................................... 16 Doing Abs Doesnt Automatically Change Posture or Back Pain............... 17 But Arent You Supposed to Stick Your Behind Out?................................ 19 What Are All the Muscles Called? .............................................................. 21 How to Use Your Abs When Standing Up.................................................. 23 How to Use Abs When Doing Other Exercises........................................... 25 How to Use Abs for Carrying Loads ........................................................... 32 How to Use Abs for Reaching..................................................................... 34 How to Use Abs for Stretching Your Arms................................................. 35 How to Use Abs for Stretching Your Legs.................................................. 36 Real Athletes Use Abs................................................................................. 37 What About Ab Machines? ......................................................................... 38 What About Leg Lifts? ................................................................................ 39 What About Captains Chair? .................................................................. 42 v

Arching Isnt the Culprit ..............................................................................44 What About Abdominal Twists? ..................................................................47 What About Lower Abs and Reverse Crunches? .........................................49 What About Exercise Balls?.........................................................................52 What About Ab Isolators? ............................................................................56 What About Ab Rocking Devices? ..............................................................57 What About Electronic Ab Zapper Belts?....................................................58 What About Miracle Liquids and Fat Burners? ...........................................59 What About Neoprene Waist Bands?...........................................................60 What Exercises Work Your Abs the Way You Need For Real Life? ..........61 How Many, How Often? ..............................................................................62 Using Abs to Control Torso Posture for Normal Standing ..........................63 Using Oblique Abs to Control Torso Posture...............................................68 Using Abs to Control Torso Posture When Using Weights .........................71 Using Abs to Control Torso Posture for Reaching and Lifting Overhead ...76 Using Oblique Abs to Control Torso Posture When Reaching and Lifting Overhead ......................................................................................................79 Using Abs for Throwing and Other Overhead Arm Activities ....................80 Using Abs for Side and Underhand Arm Activities .....................................82 Using Abs for Punching ...............................................................................84 Using Abs For Pushing.................................................................................87 Using Abs for Kicking .................................................................................88 Using Backpacks, Babies, and Bags as Ab Exercise....................................90 Using Backpacks, Babies, and Bags as Oblique Ab Exercise......................91 Using Abs to Throw a Tantrum....................................................................92 Ab-Only Exercises are Not Good .............................................................94 Should You Work Your Abs Every Day or Every Other Day?....................96 How Do You Flatten Your Abdomen?.........................................................97 vi

How Do You Get a Washboard?.............................................................. 98 More Praise for Dr. Bookspans Ab Revolution ....................................... 100 More Books by Dr. Jolie Bookspan........................................................... 102 Health & Fitness in Plain English.............................................................. 102 Credits........................................................................................................ 103 About the Author....................................................................................... 105

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The Ab RevolutionTM

Revolution!

This is a revolution in ab fitness. Shake up your entire thinking about abs. To most people, doing ab exercise means stopping your real life and lying on the floor or using machines to hunch forward to do motions you never do in real life, and which make your neck hurt. Then, you go back to your real life and stand, walk, reach, and lift with no use of your abs. Most people have no idea what abs specifically do, how to use them when standing up or during things you do in real life, or even that you are supposed to at all. Using abs is not tightening them. You cant move or breathe properly that way, and tight muscles are a factor in headaches, poor posture, and back pain. The experts say to do crunches for strong muscles to support you. But strengthening alone does not automatically change posture, back pain, or movement in real-life activities. Plenty of people with strong muscles and tight abs have terrible posture and persistent back pain. Its practically universal to see a roomful of exercisers cranking away doing ab exercise, then stand up and walk away with arched posture and no use of abs at all. Fitness has become Fast Food stripped of real content and value, and thought to be healthy when it is not healthy. The Ab Revolution shows you how to work your abs to correct your posture and keep strain off your back all the time during your daily activities while standing up. The old, usual ab exercises miss the boat because they dont transfer skills to real life. The very thing we regard as exercise advice, do three sets (or however many sets) of 10 crunches, is the root of the problem because it separates using abs from the rest of your life. Ab exercise has become hugely popularized as something you specially do, then never use the rest of the time. It doesnt happen automatically just from exercising.
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Doing specific moves for an hour and not knowing to use them for daily life is like couples being nice in a counselors office, then throwing knives at each other the rest of the time. They were told to be nice for 30 minutes, three to five times a week, not all the time. This method revolutionizes how you think about abs and how you use them. This book gives you an understanding of what abs really do, what they dont do, and how to consciously use your abs for all your daily activities even standing up. It teaches specific skills to make your life better. The exercises not only strengthen your abs, but your back, arms, shoulders, and legs too, and teach you how your muscles need to work together in your real life. Youll get exercise without going to a gym. Youll strengthen your abs. Youll strengthen your body. Youll burn calories. Youll save your back. Youll exercise your brain. Its a revolution.

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Why Do Abs?

More than other exercises, everyone seems to want to do abs. But why? Its something to do with helping the back. But what exactly do abs do for your back? Its something to do with posture. But exactly what? Its something vague about support. What does support really mean? Most people dont know what abs specifically do, or how. They do crunches in every workout, but never use their abs for real life, or even know they are supposed to. They think it just happens automatically. They do abs in rehab programs for back pain. Yet 8 out of 10 people still have back pain. Poor posture is common. Why do the exercises so often fail?

Dr. Jolie Bookspan

Using Abs Doesnt Mean Sucking Them In or Making Them Tight

Using your abs does not mean sucking them in or tightening them or pressing your navel to your spine. These are practically universal phrases to describe using abs, yet they are incorrect and outdated, and are not the way to use your abs the way you need them. Tightening is not how to use abs, or any muscles, for good posture. You can have poor posture and a terribly arched back, even with tight abs. Try this: bend your elbow to bring your hand up to your face. You didnt tighten anything. Move your arm around. You voluntarily move your arm into the position you want by using the muscles, not tightening them. Moving your torso into good posture by using your torso muscles is the same. Its voluntary movement to change the amount of bend and arch in your spine. Now arch your back and make the abs tight with your back still arched. The tightening didnt change anything. Moreover, walking around with tight muscles is a common factor in headache and stress/strainrelated muscle pain. Another often-repeated instruction is: press your navel to your spine and contract your gluteal muscles. You cant function or exercise normally that way. You cant breathe properly that way. It wouldnt change your posture, and it doesnt teach you how to use your abs the way you need for sports, exercise, or normal daily activities. Yes, this is new and different. Thats why its a revolution in ab fitness. It will change your whole way of thinking about abs, and teach you exciting new skills to be fitter, healthier, and pain-free.
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What Exactly Do Abs Do?

Most people use vague words like support to describe what abs do. What does support exactly mean? When you stand up and dont use your abdominal muscles, your low back will sway, exaggerating the normal inward curve. This arching allows the weight of your upper body to press down on your low back. This can cause wear and tear on your soft tissues and discs, and irritate the joints called vertebral facets, where each vertebra attaches to the one above and below it. When any muscle contracts, it pulls on the bones it attaches to, and bends the joint. Using abs means using them like any other muscle. All your different ab muscles connect your ribs to your hips, on the front, sides, and across. When you contract your abs, they pull your ribs and hips closer to each other in various directions and amounts. The joints of your spine bend, curling your torso and taking the arch out of your back. Contracting your abs just enough to take out excess arching when youre standing up keeps your upper body weight from slumping onto your low back, protecting your joints and soft tissue. It doesnt mean holding yourself rigidly; it means holding yourself up easily without slouching backward or to the sides. Most people only exercise their abs by hunching forward and sideways for a bunch of repetitions. Then they stand and walk away with abs slack, allowing their ribs to lift up, hips to drop down, and their back to arch. The Ab Revolution shows you how to use your abs standing up to save your back and get a free built-in ab work-out.

Dr. Jolie Bookspan

How Do Abs Control Posture?

Its a common assumption that doing ab exercise to strengthen your abs will help your posture and back. But strengthening does not automatically support your back or change your posture.

You have to voluntarily use your abs to change your posture. If you dont consciously use your muscles to hold you up, you will sag under gravity. That is one big reason people slouch. They arent using their muscles to prevent it.

To understand what abs do for your posture when you use them properly, stand up and put one hand on the front of your ribs, where your front ab muscles attach. Put your other hand on the front and middle of your hip bone where your front abs begin.

The Ab RevolutionTM

Still holding the top and bottom of your abs, draw your two hands toward each other. Your torso will curl and your back will round. Hold that position. That is what crunches do for you. They hunch you forward. How much do you need this posture in real life?

Shortened abs curl you

Lengthened abs let you arch

Still holding your ribs and hip bone, arch your back and let your ribs lift and your abdomen curve out. The distance between your hands increases, showing how slack ab muscles allow your back to arch. Feel your body weight fall onto your low back? That is what not using your abs allows: an arched back and your weight pressing hard on your low back. You will even be shorter because of the increased curve in your spine.

Dr. Jolie Bookspan

To use your abs to pull you up to stand properly, bring your hands toward each other so the distance between your ribs and hips decreases. Your torso comes upright to a straightened, taller position. Dont curl so much that you round forward. This is what abs do to control posture. When used properly, they hold you from arching backward, and stop the strain and wear and tear of dropping your upper body weight on your low back.

Use your abs at the length that holds you up in good posture, not arching back.

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Abs are Your Guy Wires from the Front

Like a guy wire keeping a tree from falling backward, abs keep you from arching backward. They pull forward to keep your upper body weight from arching back and pressuring your low back. You can have strong ab muscles, but if you dont voluntarily use them to pull you forward, you will arch backward in bad posture. The guy wires in back are your back muscles. When you use them, they keep you from slouching forward. You can have strong back muscles, but if you dont voluntarily use them to pull your shoulders back, you will round forward in bad posture.

Use your guy wire" muscles to keep you from sagging in bad posture. Just having strong muscles does not make them automatically pull the right amount at the right time. You have to train your muscles for that, and train your brain to remember. The Ab Revolution is the missing link, giving you that training.
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What is Lordosis?

Many people with back pain are told they have a condition called lordosis. They think this is something anatomic, unavoidable, or something that just happens to them like flu. Technically, the word lordosis originally meant the normal inward curve of the low back. It has commonly come to mean too much inward curve, allowing the back to sway. Sway back is not a structural condition you are born with or just have (or want to have). It can create all kinds of back pain, but is just a bad posture habit. Youll see this overly-arched (lordotic) posture in an astonishing number of fitness videos, magazines, books, and classes. The video star may say keep neutral spine, along with the usual (but incorrect) tighten your abs, but if you look at them, they arch their back and thrust out their behind in dozens of exercises, from leg lifts, to lifting weights, to bouncing around in aerobics. This is terrible posture and injurious to your back. If you habitually stand with your back arched, your back may become so tight that it gets stuck arched in the booty-out posture. Chronically pressuring the bones and other structures of your back with this bad posture can eventually deform them, like human bonsai. Use The Ab Revolution to avoid even reverse this, by retraining your posture and use of your muscles to hold you in healthy position. If you have a condition called spondylolisthesis, which makes one backbone slip forward on the next, adding to back arching, this is all the more reason not to allow yourself to arch more this way, and to use The Ab Revolution all the time during daily activities. Lordosis is usually completely controllable by using your abs to keep your hip from tipping forward, and to reduce the overly-large arch that makes your back hurt.

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This ancient Greek fresco shows the lordotic (overly-arched) posture, which pressures the low back. Lordosis can be easily controlled by straightening your posture using your own muscles.

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How Do Abs Help Your Back?

People usually have some vague idea that abs have something to do with helping the back. But they dont know specifically what abs do, or that abs dont do it automatically. You can have the strongest abs and never use them to do anything for your back. So, then, how do abs help your back? Try this: Hold your right hand up with your thumb toward you. Your palm (facing left) is the front of your body. The back of your hand (facing right) is your back. Bend your fingers forward to represent your abs at work. Lift your fingers back up again to simulate using your back muscles to straighten up. Try curling and straightening your body too as you do this.

With your left hand, press against the fingers of your right hand, bending your fingers back as far as they will go. Keep your palm upright; only your fingers arch back. See the pinched and folded-back crease at the knuckle joints of your right hand?

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This shows how your body weight falls on the joints of your low back when you dont use your ab muscles to prevent arching back under gravity. The stretched palm of your hand represents your abdomen, with your ab muscles slack.

Bounce against your fingers so that they rock back repeatedly. That shows the forces on your low back when you walk without using abs. That is what you are doing to your low back every day when you dont consciously use your abs to prevent that kind of arching. Now bounce against your fingers quickly and hard. That is running with your back arched and not using your abs. Ouch. To represent how to use your abs to control the arch of your back and prevent too much arching: with your left hand still pressing the right fingers back, use the muscles in the palm of your right hand to straighten your right hand against the push of your left. Your fingers come back up into straight line. That is how you need to use your abs to control your posture when standing up all day, every day, all the time.

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A surprising number of people are so round-shouldered that they cannot stand up straight without arching their back. To bring their head up, they arch their back instead of straightening their shoulders. Try this: Stand against a wall with your heels, behind and shoulders touching the wall. Bring the back of your head against the wall. That is where your head should be for healthy posture, even when you are relaxed. Did your ribs come up and your back arch? Fix that with your abs. Dont lift your chin.

If your upper back and shoulders are so stiff that you cant stand up straight without arching your back, you need to work on upper back strengthening and flexibility, too. Stand against a wall or lie flat without a pillow to practice head and upper back posture. Stretch the front of your shoulder so that it doesnt pull forward into a roundshouldered posture. Practice keeping your shoulders and head back without arching your back to do it.

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What About the Ab Study?

Why not just do ab exercises to prevent all the problems? A fitness industry survey at San Diego State University compared 13 of the most common abdominal exercises and ranked them from most to least effective in producing ab muscle activity. But the surveyors missed three basic concepts: An exercise can work a muscle well, but still promote bad posture and not be good for the rest of you. Just like smoking works to lose weight, doing crunches and other forwardrounding ab exercises work your abs but are not a great way to do it, and are not good for the rest of you. Even if an exercise activates your ab muscles, it still may not be useful for things you need for daily life. You dont need to hunch forward for daily activities, but you do need to stand and walk upright without arching backward. Crunches dont train that action. None of the exercises they tested and recommend specifically train your body for daily use the way you really need them. Posture and muscle use is not automatic. Just strengthening a muscle does not train it for how you need to use it. Simply strengthening a muscle will not automatically change your posture for proper use in sports or recreation, or for back pain control. Plenty of muscular people have poor posture, pain, and bad movement habits.

The Ab Revolution teaches a whole different approach to abdominal muscle use, gives exercises that effectively use and develop your abs, and shows you how to transfer posture and back pain control skills to your daily life. Even if you dont care about posture or back pain and want only cosmetic results, the Ab Revolution will give you a better workout.

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Whats Wrong with Crunches?

Crunches dont work your abs the way you need for real life. Crunches dont train you how to use your abs the rest of the day. Crunches promote poor posture, even when done properly. Look at crunches sideways and see what it would look like to stand up like this like an old, bent-over person. You know how the elderly got hunched over like that? They practiced. This is the poor posture youre training with crunches. Did you know that the most important use of your abs is when you are standing up and reaching or lifting overhead? Most people cant imagine how to use their abs while standing up or during normal everyday life. In life, your abs need to work isometrically at one length to hold your torso upright, instead of allowing you to arch back and lean your body weight onto your low back. Crunches dont train you for that. Crunches make people who likely spend much of their day already hunched over a work area practice that hunched posture, which may be mechanically promoting the back and neck pain they think they are working their abs to prevent. No wonder that doing 10 minutes of abs a day cant counteract the other 23 hours and 50 minutes of non-use and wrong use.
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Doing Abs Doesnt Automatically Change Posture or Back Pain

If you strengthen your biceps muscles, it doesnt automatically hold your arm up in the air, or support your arm. In the same way, strengthening your abs does not make them do anything automatically to support your back. You have to deliberately use your abs (and other posture muscles, including back muscles) to adjust your posture yourself. This is why doing crunches, yoga, or rehab exercises as exercises without concepts and the knowledge to apply it during real activities does not often work as expected. Doing ab exercises or core exercises is not like getting a shot of penicillin or going to confession it doesnt fix things. You need to consciously use your ab muscles to move your torso to the right position, just like using any other voluntary muscles to move any other part of your body Using your abs is more like toilet training. You need to learn what to do, make your mistakes until you remember, then you hold it even when you dont feel like it. If you dont, no matter how muscular you are, or how many crunches you have done, you will still wind up with poor posture.

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Having tight abs doesnt fix your posture or help your back. His abs are plenty tight, but he is still standing in poor posture with an overly-arched back. This is injurious to the back and loses the effectiveness of the exercise.

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But Arent You Supposed to Stick Your Behind Out?

Some people deliberately push their behinds out, thinking it looks good. This bad posture has become so ingrained that many people think it is normal or desirable. Just as some people think that holding a cigarette or other drug is cool, they mistakenly think holding this bad posture is, too. The booty posture is unhealthy and unsightly for several reasons: It is plain bad posture. It is sloppy technique because it does not use your posture muscles properly. It is unhealthy because it injures your back. Without using your abs to keep your weight from arching back, even the weight of your upper body resting on your lower back bones is enough to strain soft tissue and grind bone and discs. Adding a barbell or overhead weights adds tremendous force, smashing down on your low back. It is a sure sign that you cannot generate real force in your limbs for arm or leg activity, because your core muscles are not driving your limbs, and all your weight rests on your low back bones.

It changes the tilt of your hip, interfering with normal walking and running mechanics. Your hips will have extra wear and tear and eventually hurt too. It keeps the muscles in front of your hip and your low back in a shortened position, eventually tightening them, causing a vicious cycle of tightness, poor posture, poor use, and discomfort. Youre missing a free workout of your torso muscles.
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Advertisements use this bad posture because sex sells. So does heroin. Theres no excuse for someone in fitness to display this lack of knowledge of health. Now you can laugh when you see fitness models shown standing or doing exercise with this sloppy, unhealthy posture. You will laugh often because this unfit posture is a pervasive problem in fitness.

She is not using her abs to take the large arch out of her back. This bad posture is accepted as normal by so many people that it is mistaken for, and even used to advertise for, fitness and trimness.

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What Are All the Muscles Called?

Ab muscles are named for their layout in your body. They connect to each other in places, and work in combinations together. Rectus Abdominis The muscle straight up your front is your rectus abdominis, which in Latin means the straight abdominal. Your rectus abdominis starts on the front of your pelvic bone and runs up to attach where your middle ribs (fifth, sixth and seventh) come together in front. Not all the fibers run all the way up the muscle, with three, sometimes four intersections across it. You can see these lines in people trim enough. Contracting your front, or rectus, abdominal muscle pulls ribs to hips to bend you forward or prevent arching backward. Obliquus Externus Oblique means slanted, or not straight. Your oblique abdominals go diagonally across your sides. If you put your fingertips at the top of your pants pockets, your hands line up in the direction of the outer set, called external obliques. They begin as broad muscles on each side of your lower eight ribs. The outer external obliques on each side fuse together in a tough band in a nice line down your front, under your rectus abs. The deeper external oblique fibers run almost straight down to your hip bones. Your obliques work together in fun ways. When the external oblique fibers on your right side contract, they pull your right side closer to the middle of your pelvic bone so you twist to the left. In this same manner you can use your right obliques to resist forces that would twist you to the right. When you contract your left external oblique, you twist to the right (or prevent twisting to the left). When you contract both, you bend forward, or prevent bending backward. Obliquus Internus Your internal obliques lie under your external obliques, in the opposite direction. If you cross your arms over your abdomen, your
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fingers assume the direction of the internal fibers. They begin at your hip bone and angle up and in to your lower three or four ribs. Your right internal oblique contracts to pull the middle of your ribs to your right hip, twisting you to the right. The left internal oblique twists you to the left. So the right external and left internal oblique work together to twist you left. The left external and right internal work together to twist right. They all can resist forces that would make you want to slouch or twist in bad postures to the sides. Contracting them all helps you bend forward or prevent arching backward. Transversus Abdominis Your innermost and thinnest abdominal muscle, the transversus, goes across your abdomen to help compress it. You can feel it when you breathe out as completely as you can. Its not the case that just tightening the transversus like a girdle will support your lower back when lifting or sitting. Moreover, when you hold it tightly, you cant breathe in fully or properly (belly breathing). After all, a major purpose of this muscle is to help full exhalation. To protect your back, you need to voluntarily change the shape of your back using all your ab muscles so that you dont curve and strain your back under the weight of your upper body pressing down on it. Using Them All You dont have to know the names of the muscles to use them. You dont have to tighten them. Just use them like other muscles to move your bones. Change your posture from arching back, or sagging to the side during daily life and when you exercise. Youll have better posture, save your back, and get a workout just standing and moving properly.

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How to Use Your Abs When Standing Up

Most people cant imagine using their abs standing up. Yet this is exactly what supports your back and prevents pain and injury during daily activities. To understand what to do to use your abs in real life, try this: Stand sideways and look in a mirror big enough to see your body. If you dont have a mirror, pay close attention to what it feels like. Allow your body weight to sag so that you exaggerate your low back arch. Your stomach will curve out in front. Allow your weight to press on your low back. You may feel the familiar ache you often get and dont know why. (Dont do this if you have back pain). Many people stand with far too much lumbar curve because they are not using their abs. Tuck your hips under and pull your upper body forward, as if starting a crunch just enough to reduce the large back arch. Youll keep a small inward curve, but the key here is that your weight is held up on your ab muscles and not pressing back and down on your low back. Your torso is straight, not learning backward or forward. Reach overhead. Did your back arch again? Did you let your hips move? Many people arch their back with no ab support, every time they reach. That throws weight on their low back again and again. Still reaching overhead, tuck your behind under, using abs to move your torso upright. Feel a new strong middle. Keep this new posture all the time.

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Use the Ab Revolution whenever you stand up and reach overhead from pulling shirts off to reaching cabinets, to washing your hair, to lifting weights and babies overhead to take the arch out of your back so your weight doesnt press down and strain your low back. You will save your back, improve your posture, be able to lift more, and get a free all-day workout just from standing with your muscles in use.

People do crunches all the time, but dont know they are supposed to use their abs in real life when standing up, to prevent over-arching.

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How to Use Abs When Doing Other Exercises Abs are often forgotten while doing other exercises that are not usually thought of as for abs. Some people deliberately arch while exercising, mistakenly thinking it looks good. In either case, it is not healthy. Overhead Press Arching while lifting weight further compresses your low back. Use your abs to tuck your hips enough to take the large arch out of your back. Sometimes you use abs to make a small adjustment, other times a larger one.

Bad posture. Back arched. Hard on the back. Abs not in use.

Same exercise done properly. Abs reduce the arch and control back posture.

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Triceps Curls When doing triceps curls, people often arch their back to bring the weight back, instead of lifting arms while keeping posture neutral. The low back bears the weight, rather than the torso and arm muscles. You pressure your low back and get less arm exercise than you thought. You also miss the free ab workout you would get if you used abs to straighten your posture and save your back. Tuck under to straighten your back to keep the weight of your upper body plus the hand weights off your low back.

Bad posture on triceps curls. Back arched. Abs not in use.

Same exercise done properly with abs in use to reduce the arch and control back posture.

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Yoga Yoga wont automatically give you good posture. You have to consciously use your muscles to move you into good, straight posture. Abs are often forgotten when doing yoga poses. Some styles of yoga even teach to deliberately stand in this arched position. That does not use the abs and is hard on the back. Instead, use your abs to tuck your hips and reduce the arched posture to stand properly, get an ab workout, and save your back.

Bad posture. Back overly-arched. Abs not in use.

Same pose done properly with abs in use to reduce the arch and control back posture.

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Bad posture. Back arched. Abs not in use.

Same pose done properly with abs in use to reduce the arch and control back posture.
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Pushups Pushups with terrible arched posture (shown by the first, third, and last white shirt in the picture below) means your abs are not in use, and your back strains from hanging your weight on it in an arch. This is common. Tuck your hips and straighten your back (black shirt), but hold your head up too. You will instantly feel your abs spring into use. The more you tuck, the more youll use abs, but dont tuck so much that you hunch your back or hike your hips in the air. You will save your back and make the pushup a terrific abs and core exercise.

Look sideways at this same terrible posture and see how they would look standing up this way: overly-arched, bad posture, heads hanging, and lack of use of abs. Dont do this for pushups or for standing up.

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Martial Arts You need your abs to straighten your back posture while doing many moves in martial arts. (See pages 84 to 89 on punching and kicking for how.)

Can you spot the students not using abs in this Karate class? (First on the left and second from the right.) They are not controlling their back posture, allowing it to arch too much. This can strain the back and will not give you good punching or kicking power

Teacher is holding strong posture. Student is arching and slouching, losing punching power and straining the back.

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Walking You need to use your abs to keep your back from folding back in an arch during normal walking. Its surprising how many fitness books and articles talk about posture for walking but still show someone walking with an overly-arched torso. You need a small natural inward curve to keep your spinal column like a spring for shock absorption, and to keep forces distributed on your discs. Many people allow too much arch, which allows body weight to grind down on the low back and decreases natural shock absorption. Look at illustrations in books and magazines, and see how often youll find this bad posture in illustrations and photos from fashion to exercise. Archery Archery is an activity where using abs saves more than your back. If you arch when drawing a bow and arrow, your chest will protrude outward into the line of the bowstring. You can painfully twang your breast with the bowstring. Tuck your chest and hip as if starting a crunch to straighten up. Hold good straight posture to keep your chest out of the line of the bowstring. Lat Machines When using a weight machine to pull down a bar to your chest (lat pull-downs), dont arch your back. Use abs to keep you sitting upright, not arched or leaning back. Youll get an ab workout and also get far more out of the exercise for your lats and chest. Other Activities In many activities you need to lean back but still not arch. Use good ab technique to keep your back from arching while leaning backward during windsurfing and water skiing, for hiking out to counterbalance sailboats in the wind, to dodge flying objects and fists as in the movies The Matrix and Spiderman, to be dipped while ballroom dancing, to take photographs from certain angles, and for doing the limbo dance.

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How to Use Abs for Carrying Loads

Packages Held in Front When carrying anterior loads, its common to arch back and rest the weight of the load rest on your hip, which puts the weight onto your low back. Remember not to lean back or arch when carrying loads. Maintain your posture upright against the load. Youll feel your abs working to do that. A surprising way to help your back is to strengthen your arms. When your arms are weak, its more tempting to rest a carried weight on your hip and lean back, letting your low back take the brunt.

Posture is good, held straight and upright against the anterior load of the drum.
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Back is arched in bad posture against the anterior load, straining the back. This is avoidable.

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Pregnancy Lack of use of abs is common even deliberately exaggerated during pregnancy. This is not an unavoidable consequence of pregnancy; it is a lack of using abs. Of all times to use your abs to prevent the all-too-common change in back posture and the back pain that comes with it, this is it. Packages Held In Back Backpacks and other things carried on your back dont make you arch your back. Not using your abs lets you arch your back. With posterior loads like knapsacks, its common to lean forward to rest the weight on your back, or to let the bag pull you backward into an arch. Instead, use your ab and back muscles to hold your torso posture upright without leaning forward or arching back. Your packs become a free core muscle workout.

Back is arched in bad posture against the posterior load, creating strain on the back.
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Abs are in use to keep the back from arching against the posterior load, relieving strain.

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How to Use Abs for Reaching

People often arch their back when reaching for things. Picture this: someone with shoulder pain goes to the doctor who asks them to reach overhead. They reach, and their hand points straight to the ceiling. They are checked as having normal shoulder range of motion. But what really happened was that they arched their back to lift their arm. Their shoulder really did not stretch that much. Now picture people arching when reaching like this all day, every day, for shelves, packages, groceries, lifting the baby, combing hair, pulling off shirts, and at the gym to lift weights. Instead, when you reach overhead, straighten your torso with your abs, tucking your hip not rigidly, but with easy, supported motion. Dont lean back. You may notice that your arm doesnt bend as high as you though because youve been using your back instead. Use this technique to get a better reach, more exercise for your abs, and protection for your back.

Bad posture: back arched, abs not in use


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Same reach, using abs to straighten back posture.

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How to Use Abs for Stretching Your Arms People often arch their back when they stretch their arms. This adds to mysterious low back pain and never targets the area you think you stretched. This is also a missed opportunity to use your abs to keep the good posture you need to stretch properly. Try this: Stand up and bend your arm overhead, letting your back arch. With your arm still overhead, flex your trunk as if starting a crunch to straighten your torso. Keep your elbow lifted to the ceiling. Feel the stretch move to your shoulder and triceps.

Bad posture: back arched, abs not in use, little stretch on arm. Dont do this.
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Same stretch, using abs to straighten posture. You will save your back, get a free ab workout, and get a far better stretch in the shoulder.

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How to Use Abs for Stretching Your Legs The quad stretch is another common stretch where you can lose the intended stretch and add to back pain by arching when you stretch. Try this: Stand on one leg and arch your back while you hold your other foot behind you. You wont feel much stretch in your thigh. Straighten your torso and push your behind forward, as if starting to do a crunch. Drop your bent knee to point to the standing knee and push your foot away into your hand. Dont pull your foot in. Feel the stretch move to your thigh.

Dont do this bad posture when stretching: back arched, abs not in use, little stretch on leg.

Same stretch using abs to straighten posture. You save your back, work abs, and get a far better quad stretch.

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Real Athletes Use Abs

Here is good use of abs in basketball to hold the back posture straight, drive the dunk, and power the block.

The black belts holding the board in the photo below, have properly changed the shape of their back by using their abs, so the force of the punch is not levered into their low back. The white belt has not learned this yet. Note how he incorrectly uses an arch to wind-up the punch

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What About Ab Machines?

Ab machines are often used in ways that dont use the abs. When you allow your back to arch, your body weight hangs on your low back vertebrae, folding them like a hinge. This is ineffective as an ab exercise, and is injurious to your back. These machines can be used so that you use your abs. Tuck your hips under as if beginning a crunch, to straighten your torso. When you do this, youll instantly feel your abs in use. Instead of an expensive machine, you can use two roller skates, or a simple wheel. One way to learn the hip tuck is to use a mirror to watch your posture in side view. Keep your head up. Dont arch or hike your behind up in the air.

If you use ab machines with an arched back (top), your abs are not in good use and there is large strain. Straightening your posture (bottom) puts abs highly in use and protects against back strain.
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What About Leg Lifts?

Most people allow the weight of their legs to arch and strain their low back, and never get a real ab workout by using abs to straighten their back and control this.

Leg Lifts Lying on Your Back People doing back-lying leg lifts are often taught to put their hands under their hips to keep their back from arching. That is precisely what is wrong with this as an ab exercise: you never use your own abs to keep your back from arching. This is a missed ab opportunity. Without taking the arch out of your back with your abs, leg lifts become an exercise that strains the back, and only works the muscles that lift your leg, called hip flexors. Hip flexors are usually pretty strong and tight to begin with from sitting and overuse in exercise. Tight hip flexors create problems. To do leg lifts properly, use your abs, not your hands, to tilt your hips and maintain torso posture. Try this: Lie on your back with your legs out straight on the floor. Put one hand under the small of your low back and feel the natural space. To show you what arching feels like, increase the arch by lifting your ribs so that your back lifts off your hand. In this
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arched position, lift your legs just an inch or two above the floor. Youll feel the weight of your legs arching your back more, pinching and straining your low back. (Dont do this if you have back pain.) This is how many people do leg lifts. It can be injurious and does not use abs. To do this exercise correctly and fix the arching problem, put your legs back down and press your low back against your hand, using your abs to flatten the arch. If your hips are tight, youll feel your thighs pull up. Try not to let them. This will retrain your muscles to know what it feels like to use abs to control torso posture. Keeping your abs in use to flatten the low back curve, lift your legs just an inch or two above the floor. Dont let your back arch. You will feel your abs working. Dont let your back arch during any point of raising or lowering your legs.

With this method, youll learn to use your abs not your hands to change the tilt of your torso and hips. Youll learn to use your abs to control your torso posture. Youll protect your back and get real ab exercise. Hanging Leg Lifts When you do leg lifts hanging from a chinning bar, dont allow your back to arch. Dont just bend at the hip and use hip flexors with your behind stuck out. First curl your hips under you, doing a reverse crunch while hanging. Then, while maintaining the curled position of your torso, lift your legs. Keep your torso posture controlled with your abs as you lower your legs too, not allowing it to arch. Chin Ups and Pulls Ups Many people stick out their behind and let their legs swing forward when doing chin ups and pull ups. Use The Ab Revolution to use your abs to tip your hips back under you into correct position, and to keep your legs straight while raising and lowering.

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Back Leg Lifts Lifting your legs to the back is an excellent exercise for your back. It can be done lying face down and lifting legs, standing up on one leg and lifting the other leg to the back, or from a hands-and-knees position, lifting one leg upward. Leg lifts to the back contracts and strengthens back muscles. Unfortunately, it is often done by arching the back. That reduces leg and back muscle involvement, and can also hurt your back. When lifting your leg to the back from a stand or from your knees, dont let your back arch. Tuck your hips under to bring your back to a good straight position, and use only your leg, back, and gluteal muscles. Youll feel an immediate shift of work to your abs, and far more exercise for your back and leg. Whenever you do leg lifts, use The Ab Revolution to get a far better ab workout and to learn how proper posture feels when controlling your torso, so that you can use it for all your standing activities.

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What About Captains Chair?

In a recent survey, the hanging leg lift, or Captains Chair was one of the top exercises found to produce high ab activity. In a Captains Chair you hang in the air by your forearms on two pads on either side of you, with your back against a pad and legs dangling free. You lift your legs with knees bent or straight. Captains Chair is like the old fashioned gymnast stall bars which were like a chinning bar against a climbing rack. The back pad makes it easier to maintain back posture without arching. Still, the problem is that Captains Chair is often done in a way that prevents good use of abs. People often make it easier by allowing their back to arch and using only hip flexors, without as much use of abs as they could. They never learn to consciously use abs to control torso posture. Then they walk around all day with the same problem. When they swing their legs, they let their back arch. Imagine the forces accumulating on your low back, step after step bang, bang, bang all day. Try this: Hang from stall bars or a Captains Chair stand. First try it wrong. (Dont do this if you have back pain.) Arch your back and stick your behind out. It will be fairly easy to lift your legs or knees. Now try it right. While hanging, first curl your behind under you using your abs. Then lift your legs, not allowing your back to arch. Use your abs throughout the entire exercise to maintain your hip tuck when you raise and lower your legs.

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Its said that a problem with Captains Chair is that you need equipment. You dont need equipment just a good friend.

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Arching Isnt the Culprit You are supposed to have a small inward curve in your low back. Arching your back, by itself, is not the problem in back pain and posture control. The problem is not using muscles to keep your upper body weight off your low back. This is often confused, and some people think they must never arch their back. Proper back extension is one of the most important exercises for back health. For more on back extension, see pages 94 and 95. The supported arch is important to use in tennis, gymnastics, yoga, stretching, and other activities. Many people dont know to use their abs during these kinds of moves, and just allow their low back to fold backward under all their weight. By holding your upper body weight with your abs, you can lean and extend back without your weight pressing onto your low back. Try this: Stand up. Allow your back to arch, curving your abdomen out in front. Let your upper body weight relax down until you feel your weight on your low back. (Dont do this if you have back pain.) Lift your weight up and off your low back by using your abs, as if starting a crunch. Take the exaggerated arch out of your back, leaving a small natural curve.

Now try this to see how to arch with good range of motion and ab involvement, to hold your weight off your back: Begin to arch your upper body back, but use your abs to hold weight up and off your low back. Dont crane or pinch your neck back. Relax your shoulders and keep them back. It should be a good-feeling stretch. Try this again while bending your knees to tilt backward further. Dont let your abs go or allow your weight to slump. You should feel a good ab exercise and no back pain.

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Supported Arching With Roman Chair Exercise As you progress, try Roman Chair ab training. There are Roman Chair seats in many gyms, or you can make your own on a sturdy surface to hold your lower body. Strongly use your abs to decelerate as you extend backward. Dont hang your weight on your back. Lift up to the straight position and hold without arching before repeating.

Supported Arching With Head and Handstands Use the ab-supported arch for headstands and handstands when you do them with an arch. Hold the weight of your legs up with your muscles, not your back joints.

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Dont allow the weight of your legs to fold your low back into an angle, pressuring it. Also practice using abs to do these poses with a straight torso, to add to your ab workout.

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What About Abdominal Twists?

An exercise commonly done for abs is to put a bar across the shoulders and twist from side to side. The idea is that torso muscles would get exercise decelerating the swinging weight. But many people do this exercise in a way that doesnt work the abs and overtwists the back. Beside the poor neck posture from putting a bar across the shoulder, a big problem is that people stop the momentum of the weight at the end of each rotation using their vertebral joints. This can eventually strain soft tissues, fray discs, and overstretch fibrous attachments (tendons that hold muscles on bones and ligaments that hold your bones together). For activities that require body knowledge of how to decelerate a swinging pivot, such as swinging a bat or racquet, swinging limbs in martial arts , or during various rodeo activities, this exercise can work your muscles in the manner they need to work. Make sure to understand how to stop the momentum by using your ab and torso muscles, and to decelerate only with muscular effort, not letting the rotation twist you to the end of the range your back can twist.

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If all you want is a pivoting ab exercise to work your abs, one way to do that is to use cable pulleys or a stretchy tube or band and pivot away from it, stepping farther and farther away to increase the tension. There will be no momentum continuing the motion past the point where you pull the band. The ab study mentioned in the beginning of this book rated stretchy tubing low on the ranking of ab exercises that produce ab muscle activation. One reason is because they used the tubing while bending forward, rather than in real-life movements. Also, most people do not put much resistance on their band. Use a good, thick band, step away to increase tension while holding good posture, and go for the fun of the work.

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What About Lower Abs and Reverse Crunches?

Theres much talk over what determines upper and lower abs, and what exercises work them. Try the following to understand how your muscles produce movement, and how that changes your posture. When you understand the muscle actions, you can make your own exercises to get a good workout using each to keep good posture. Upper Abs Stand sideways and watch your torso movement in a mirror. Allow your upper body to arch back.

Both bad postures are not using upper abs (among other muscles), allowing the upper body to slump backward and downward. To fix this bad posture, pull yourself back to proper upright standing posture by using your abs as if you were beginning a
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crunch. Dont your neck or torso forward, just come to straight upright posture. In general, this is upper ab action. Notice how some people lean back this way when walking, doing biceps curls, lifting weight, reaching overhead, taking photos, and whatever else they do. They are not using upper abs, they are missing a free ab workout, and they are adding to strain and wear and tear on their back. Lower Abs Stick your behind out and tip the top of your hips forward so that your back arches, the front of your hip drops down, your leg bends at the fold where it meets your body, and your abdomen curves out.

Not using lower abs lets the hip tilt down, abdomen curve out, and lower body jut backward. This is hard on the back and hip. To fix this poor posture, bring your behind forward by tucking your hip under so that the front crease of your hip straightens where it meets your leg. You will feel a slight upward stretch.
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Dont lean back or jut your hips forward. Just tuck enough to pull yourself into a strong upright posture. You will feel your lower abs pulling your front hip bone forward and upward. To train lower abs while doing pull ups and chin ups, use the hip tuck described above and in the section on leg lifts. Hang from the bar and take the arch out of your back by using your abs to curl your hips under you. Dont allow your body to swing forward or your back to arch as you pull up. Keep your torso posture controlled as you lower down too. Its common to see people doing pull ups with their legs bent, their ribs jutting forward, and their back arched. They are missing a great opportunity to use their lower abs.

Notice how some people stick their hip and behind out when walking, doing aerobics and step class, stretching, lifting weights, and during other activities. They are not using lower abs, they are missing a free ab workout, and they are adding to strain and wear and tear on their back. Correct this posture and youll use your lower abs in an all-day reverse crunch. Fixing Posture Using Upper Abs and Lower Abs So, theres a not using upper abs bad posture, and a not using lower abs bad posture. Both are unhealthy for your back. It is injurious to lift weights either way. They are sloppy postures because they do not use ab muscles for proper standing. Its a shame that they have become mistaken for an attractive stance. Theyre not. Whenever you notice your back aching when youre standing around, notice if youre standing with either bad posture upper body leaning back and hips forward or back arched and your behind stuck out or both. Fix it using the Ab Revolution repositioning exercises. Dont over-tuck so that you push your hips forward to look like the television character Urkel on Family Matters. Tuck only enough to take the extra arch from your low back and get your upper body weight off your low back. Dont lean forward. Correct and straighten your posture, and youll burn more calories, stand taller, and get free, all-day exercise for both your upper and lower abs.
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What About Exercise Balls?

The exercise ball is a large, sturdy, light-weight inflated ball that you can use in a large and inventive number of ways. It is also called Swiss Ball, Incrediball, rehab ball, therapy ball, gym ball, balance ball, physio-roll, and any number of trade names. Used properly, exercise balls can be great, and use more body skills and muscles than doing the same exercise on a floor, chair or bench. Used without understanding, they are just another device that does little, and reinforces the same poor habits as other exercises. Because the surface of the ball is not flat and rolls under you, you use balance and stabilization muscles so that you dont fall off. But this does not happen automatically. Its how you use it. There are claims that the ball makes you sit properly or that you use more muscular effort to sit on it. Based on that, expensive desk chairs are marketed with the ball as the sitting surface. But you can sit on the ball with as poor posture and little effort as on most other surfaces. This is easily avoided by using your muscles deliberately to control posture. People also often take this versatile tool and just do crunches or reverse crunches with all the same postural impairment and lack of application to real life. They drape their arched back over the ball minimizing the use of abs then put their hands behind their head and round their upper back into crunches. The ball can be put to better use in a variety of functional exercises that strengthen and train your abs and other muscles to work the way you need for good posture, sports, and daily life. All the exercises here work your entire torso and back, with various moves that strengthen arms and legs, too. Try these: Sit on the ball with good posture. Dont arch or round your back. Sit up, but not rigidly. Begin to walk your feet away and lie back until youre lying as flat and straight as you can. Keep
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your back and neck straight, not arched or bent forward. Keep the same good posture as for proper standing. Keep the ball under your behind, not your back. Hold as long as you can. Lift up one leg and hold as long as you can. Switch legs. Very advanced? Lift both legs at once. Without using your arms, roll on the ball to lie on your side. Keep the side of your feet on the floor, and the ball close to your hip. Hold straight posture as long as you can. For more, lift both arms over your head, biceps by ears. Advanced? Hold a weight in your hands. Try side curls if you like, lifting upward without hunching to the front. Roll to the other side without using your arms and repeat. Roll onto your back without using arms. Step your feet away until the ball cradles your head and neck. Keep straight torso posture without sagging or arching. Hold. Lift one leg up straight and hold. Switch legs. Roll onto your chest without using arms. Put both hands on the top surface of the ball and push up into a pushup position. You can start with your knees on the floor and then straighten your legs, or with your arms already straight, and progress to being able to push up from the ball. Keep good posture without letting your back arch or your behind hike into the air. Hold as long as you can. To progress, do pushups while holding proper posture. As you advance, roll to one side and do one arm at a time. Lie on your back on the floor, legs straight, with the ball under your ankles. Lift your hips from the floor. Then lift one leg from the ball. Hold. Repeat. Switch sides and repeat. This works the back also. Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet on the ball. Lift your hips from the floor. This works the back also. Try lifting one leg at a time.
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Lie face down on the ball with both hands on the floor; walk on your hands, rolling the ball down your body to your legs. Practice until you can hold the ball at your ankles. Hold as long as you can. As you progress, do pushups in this position. Keep good posture without letting your back arch or your behind hike up. Hold the pushup position as above. Lift one leg off the ball. Keep good posture without letting your back arch or hike up in the air. Hold as long as you can. Do pushups. Switch legs.

Bad posture with back arched, abs not in good use, and strain on the back.

Good straight posture with abs in use to hold weight off the back.
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For a challenge, hold the pushup position with the ball under your ankles. Bend at the hip, lift your behind way up, roll onto your toes and pull your feet toward your hands with straight legs, making an inverted V. Return to the pushup position. Repeat all you can. Dont let your posture arch or sag. As you progress, try with one leg lifted.

These are a very few of the many functional ab exercises you can do on the ball.

Pull in to a V and return to straight position.

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What About Ab Isolators?

Several products on the market claim to better isolate your abdominal muscles, and therefore somehow give you the abdomen pictured on the package. There is nothing in an isolating device that you cannot do without it. For instance, advertising for one device claims to hold your feet and legs in the specific position required for crunches. You can do that yourself without the device, and its still the same bad hunched-over posture you dont want anyway. Some of the devices add resistance to the abdominal exercises. More resistance increases the muscle activation you need to do the exercise, just like carrying extra packages adds more weight to your arms. There is nothing secret or scientific about doing more work to get more results. You can just hold a weight or your body weight, described in the Ab Revolution exercises in this book. Dr. Steven Fleck, sport physiologist formerly with the U.S. Olympic Training Center, reminds us that the value of these devices is their novelty. If they get you to exercise areas that you wouldnt normally exercise, they might pay for themselves. But remember that the fine print on the packaging mentions that these products need to be combined with healthy eating and regular exercise of all kinds. Moreover, they do not work your abs the way you need or train you how to use them in daily activity. Isolating a muscle is not helpful to your real life. Life is a multisegment activity. Plenty of people with muscular backs from isolating them in gyms, injure themselves opening windows. Plenty of people who run miles on treadmills, sprain their ankle when walking on real earth. They are not used to using their body in a multi-segmental, cooperative manner the way they really need for real life. Similarly, often people who do crunches in every workout and use every ab machine, still stand with an arched back, not using their abs.

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What About Ab Rocking Devices?

The various ab rocker devices on the market are portable, personal cages, in various shapes, to rock you for crunches. They attract users because they make crunches easy. The problems are all the same problems with crunches and by making the exercise easy, educes the effectiveness. Doing crunches with or without an ab device does not train you to use your abs in a way that you need for daily life. It is not a functional exercise. The crunching motion of the devices promotes the same round-shouldered, round-backed, hunched-over poor posture as crunches. Most people already stand, walk, and exercise roundshouldered. The last thing they need is to exaggerate and practice that bad posture as a deliberate exercise. The way most people do crunches is to bend their neck first, then lift their body up by the head. This often occurs no matter how many instructions are given to keep the neck straight and contract the abs first. It occurs even with devices that hold your neck up for you. This entire book teaches ways to use your abs for good posture and effective use of abs during normal activity instead of crunches. Try those exercises instead. If you decide you must still do crunches, or if you are stuck in exercise classes that still do them, try this: Save money on the device and use a dumbbell. Instead of pulling your body up by your head, put a dumbbell behind your neck and press the back of your head onto the bar of the dumbbell. The pressing activates muscles in the back of your neck. This activation quiets muscular activity in the front of your neck. It will help straighten your neck and stop the muscles in front of your neck from hurting.

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What About Electronic Ab Zapper Belts?

Watch T.V. while motorized stomach vibrator burns more calories than 500 sit-ups a day? Use electronic stimulating muscle contractor to get gives more contractions than hundreds of sit ups? Early consumer devices were little more than vibrators. They made claims comparing the relative number of calories burned in a longer time frame to a shorter one. In two hours sitting in front of the television wearing the device, you would burn more calories than during the theoretical 1530 minutes it would take to do the sit-ups, with or without a vibrator strapped to your abdomen. Thats just your normal metabolism at work. Other devices stems from electrical muscle stimulators (EMS), used in physical therapy to passively contract muscles atrophied from paralysis or wasting diseases. These have been around for a long time. There is muscle contraction, but not enough to produce the results claimed.

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What About Miracle Liquids and Fat Burners?

Many products on the market claim to make you burn fat while you sleep. Some products claim to give a workout so intense that you burn fat for hours after you finish. Other products are pills tantalizingly called fat burners. First, everyone burns fat when theyre asleep when theyre awake, too. Metabolizing stored fat is part of your round-the-clock energy production for body functions, whether you drink miracle potion or not. They could just as honestly claim that if you stare at their special green dot that you will burn calories in your sleep. But dont pay money for that because you burn fat 24 hours a day anyway as part of being alive. When you exercise, no matter what device you use or what potion you drink, you increase your metabolism to meet your energy needs. It slows when you stop exercising, but takes a while to return to resting value. Any product can truthfully claim to produce increased calorie burning after a workout. Just dont pay money for that, because a nice run, bike, or swim will do the same. The pills called fat burners are mostly stimulants. They do not selectively find your fat cells and eliminate them. These stimulants can have harmful effects, from nervousness and grouchiness, to inability to exercise safely in the heat, and heart trouble. A good workout of dancing, skating, playing, biking, or other fun ways to move around will pick you up more effectively and safely than taking stimulants, will burn more calories, and keep you happier and healthier in the long run.

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What About Neoprene Waist Bands?

A fairly popular product advertised to easily take off inches is sometimes billed as a secret scuba device, and other times called various intriguing names like waist support, flab zapper, and waist shrinker. It is just a neoprene band to wear around the waist (or thighs). The band temporarily shrinks your circumference through simple compression. It has nothing to do with toning or supporting the muscles, sweat loss, weight loss, or body fat loss. Ever notice when you take off your socks that theres a darkened dent around your leg where the sock band was? The elastic compressed your flesh, leaving you temporarily smaller. You return to normal circumference fairly quickly. It is just a gimmick.

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What Exercises Work Your Abs the Way You Need For Real Life?

Beside standing and reaching properly all day every day, what else can you do to train good ab use for posture, activities, back pain prevention, and good looks? The ab exercises you see everywhere in gyms get you good at hunching forward. But your abs need to work isometrically (at one length without moving) a great deal of the time in real life, not bending forward. You need to exercise your abs the way they normally should work. That means radically different exercises from what you commonly see in gyms and on exercise videos. The concepts and exercises follow in the next sections. Youll learn exercises that work your abs in functional ways for postural control when you sit, stand, walk, run, carry packages, do exercise, and go out and have fun. Breathe normally and fully when doing the isometric exercises; dont hold your breath. For the moving exercises, breathe in, then breathe out during the effort of the movement. Most people cant do these exercises for more than a few seconds. They dont have the ab strength and endurance to hold themselves straight. No wonder their posture sags so badly by the end of the day and their muscles ache. Gradually increase the time you hold good posture with these exercises. More important than how many repetitions you do is understanding the concept, so that you use your abs to adjust your posture during the exercise and train your brain to transfer this body knowledge to all your daily life activities. Doing repetitions and sets without that will not work your abs the way you need, and wont help your posture, your back, or your life.

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How Many, How Often?

How Many of Each Exercise Should You Do? Depends how many you can already do. Start doing as many of each as you properly can. Work up to more. Many Easier Ones, Or Fewer Harder Ones? Regularly lifting a weight that is so heavy that you can only lift it a few times builds your strength. Lifting a lighter weight for a long time builds your endurance. You need both for carrying things, for doing your activities, and just getting through the day with good posture and without a tired, achy back. For many people, their own body weight is so heavy relative to their ability that it provides enough resistance to build strength, for example pushups. As they strengthen they can do more repetitions, then gradually add external weight, building both strength and endurance. How Fast or Slow? Working your muscles slowly gets them good at slow movement. That is good for carrying things and pushing cars (if you also trained to be strong enough). It will not make you able to do fast movements needed for real life activities like throwing, punching, catching falling objects or children, or anything where you need your strength in a fast move. Practice your exercises both quickly and slowly to maximize your real life abilities. When going slowly with weights dont squeeze your joints or push them past their range. When going quickly, dont bang your joints around; use muscular control to avoid injury. When To Do Ab Revolution Exercises? Use these back-saving, arch-preventing, core posture exercises all the time when you are standing up, going about your normal day, and when doing exercise. Use your abs to fix your posture and support your body weight and the weight of what you carry all the time for a free workout.

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Using Abs to Control Torso Posture for Normal Standing

Purpose of this Exercise: To work your abs, and to train them to prevent your back from arching under gravity resistance. To protect your back during the exercise and make the exercise more effective and more targeted to the abs. Application to Daily Life: Learn and practice the easy, straight posture you need for standing up, and have the ab strength and endurance to do it. A common mistake is letting your back arch like the back of an old horse when doing pushups, so that your weight rests on your vertebrae, not your core muscles. This is a missed opportunity to strengthen your core and is hard on your back. Dont let your back arch during any part of your pushup and you can emphasize both core stability and upper and lower body strength. Using The Ab Revolution, the pushup is a prize exercise for most of your body, including the important weak link, wrists and arms. Holding the Pushup Position Hold the pushup position as long as you can. Tuck your hips under and youll feel an immediate shift of the work to your abs and core. Take the arch out of your back and straighten your torso. Dont droop down, arch your back, or hike your hips up in the air. Hold your head up. Be straight as a plank. Dont lock your elbows straight; keep them slightly bent. If your arms are too weak to hold you, then you need to strengthen them too not ruin your elbow joints. Keep your weight on your whole hand; dont just mash your wrists. Wobbling after only a few seconds? These are the same posture muscles you need to stand up properly without
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sagging. Work up to increasing the time you can hold your posture as straight you would want when standing up. If you cant figure how to tuck your hips under you, stand up again and relearn the posture exercise on page 23, How To Use Your Abs When Standing Up.

Tuck your hip to hold your back straight, without arching. You'll feel your abs work immediately. Vary your hand positioning. Progressions For Holding Position Hold the pushup position as long as you can and lift one leg straight up in back without arching your back. Hold the pushup position and lift one leg in back and the opposite arm straight out in front. Hold the pushup position on your elbows. Keep hips tucked, back straight and head up. No sagging. Put your feet up on a bench or ledge or against a wall and hold the pushup position without sagging in the middle or arching your back. Use a lower ledge to work abs more, and a higher one to work arms more. Keep your whole body straight as a
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plank; dont let your middle sag. The wrist is one of the three major risk sites of osteoporosis. Weight bearing improves bone density and strength, two more benefits of Ab Revolution exercises.

First from left is holding hips slightly bent and hiked in the air. Second and third are flatter and straighter. Moving Pushups Hold the pushup position on one arm and lift a hand weight from the floor to your chest with the other (like rowing) keeping straight body position. Try curls, and other lifts too. Do full pushups using your abs to keep your hips tucked as if starting a crunch. Dont let your upper body lift up before your lower body. Stay flat throughout.
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Rise from the floor in a reverse pushup. Lie flat with hands on the floor, and elbows bent at your sides. Tuck your hips and chest down as if starting a crunch, and lift straight up with your arms without letting your upper body rise first, not even a little. Dont arch or hike up your behind. Lower to the floor holding your body just as straight, and repeat. Do full pushups with your feet up on a bench or wall. Keep hips tucked and prevent any arching with your abs. Add a weight to your back during pushups. Increased resistance increases your strength and adds a posture challenge. Have a friend sit on your back when you do pushups carefully. Dont let your posture sag. Maintain the same posture you would want if you were standing up.

Adding extra weight means using more ab and other core muscles
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to keep posture good and your back protected, while getting an effective, hard workout. Walking and Jumping Pushups To challenge your strength, balance, and posture control, try these fun and effective variations: Walk around in the pushup position like a flat spider. Tuck your hips under as if starting a crunch to keep your back straight. Walk sideways, forward, backward, and around. Walk quickly and slowly. Maintain the same posture you would want if you were standing up. Stay straight. Jump in the pushup position like a flat jumping spider. Dont allow your back to arch under the momentum of landing. Use good shock absorption with arms and legs. Jump sideways across the room. Jump to the next piece of exercise equipment. Jump to say hello to someone. See if you can jump 90 degrees (or more) with each jump to face each direction. Have fun.

Spiders work torso, arm, and leg muscles hard. They are effective and safe if you protect your back with good posture and shock absorption. More Challenge Moves As you advance, try this move, sometimes called The Flag. Experiment with various leg placement.

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Using Oblique Abs to Control Torso Posture

Purpose of this Exercise: To work your oblique abs, and to train them to hold your posture correctly against resistance. Application to Daily Life: Learn to prevent your torso from slouching to the side when standing, and have the strength and endurance to maintain it. Many people let their bodies slump to the side, or hike their shoulder or hip up when carrying things on one shoulder or hip, or even just when standing up. Learn to use your oblique abs to prevent this. Holding Side Pushup Position Hold the pushup position and turn to one side. Lift one arm and balance on the other arm, holding your body straight without drooping in the middle. Do both sides. Keep your elbow slightly bent; dont lock it. Save your elbow joint and get an arm workout. Keep your weight on your whole hand so you dont mash your wrist.

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Progressions for Holding Position Prop on one elbow. Progress to putting your feet up on a ledge or bench, or up against the wall.

Hold the regular pushup position face down, with both arms on the floor. Without turning your body, lift one arm behind your back. To progress, hold your arm straight in front of you, with your bicep by your ear. Dont rotate your body. Keep straight pushup position. To progress, raise the opposite leg too.

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In the side position, raise your top leg and hold as long as you can. Then bend the top leg at the hip and hold in front of you.

Moving in the Side Arm Position Raise and lower your top leg from the floor as many times as you can, maintaining straight torso posture. Hold the side arm position and dip your hip almost to the floor and raise back up as many times as you can. Hold your weight up using abs when lowering, dont drop on the floor. Switch arms, then try continuously switching. Next, do the same sip, holding your top leg off the floor.

Fun Challenge Moves Hold a regular face-down pushup position. Lift one leg 90 degrees to the side and forward, as if swinging it over a bicycle. Keep your leg straight and parallel to the floor, not drooping down. Keep your body flat, not turned or arched. Hold as long as you can and switch legs. Then try pushups this way, while holding one leg straight out to the side
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When you can hold your leg out straight to the side, add lifting the opposite arm.

As you advance, try this, sometimes called The Flag. Experiment with leg placement.

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Using Abs to Control Torso Posture When Using Weights

Purpose of this Exercise: To work your abs, and to use them to hold correct posture against overhead resistance. To learn when youre substituting arching your back for motion of the shoulder. Application to Daily Life: Learn and practice holding your back in good posture during overhead movement and exercise; improve shoulder range of motion; and use abs, not shoulder or low back, as the lever when reaching overhead. You need to exercise using the same movements and muscle patterns as you use in real life. This is called functional exercise. When you lift weights with your arms, just isolating your arms is not only not functional, but can teach you how to forget your torso muscles in ways that can lead to back and even shoulder injury. Using Body Weight Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Put your hand on the floor under the arch of your back. Arch your back up, lifting your ribs high so you know what it feels like. To feel how to use abs to reduce the arch and control your torso, press your back down against your hand. Dont lift your hips, just use your abs. Youll feel your abs working right under your skin, since ab muscles are shallow. Put your other arm overhead just off the floor, biceps by your ear. Did your back arch off your hand again? Press it back down. Now put both hands overhead, just an inch off the floor, biceps near your ears. Contract your abs to hold your torso straight without allowing your back to arch from the floor.

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Isometric With Hand Weight This isometric exercise is excellent to learn how to use your abs to control posture when standing because you need to hold your posture isometrically when standing. Lie on your back, holding light dumbbells (5 to 10 pounds each) in each hand overhead, about an inch from the floor. Keep your elbows slightly bent. Dont let your ribs come up or your back arch.

Your abdominal muscles work hard on this one to control your posture against the moving weight. Holding the weights also works your arms and latissimus dorsi muscles along the sides of your back. You get several exercises for the price of one, and work your body the way you need for real life movement.

Use abs to hold your back in position without arching. Moving With Hand Weights Raise and lower the dumbbells about an inch, as many times as you can without touching the floor. Use your abs to keep your lower back from rising off the floor at any time, particularly when lowering the weights. Each time the weight lowers, your back will want to arch. Dont let it. This simulates all the daily life activities where you will either support your body and things you carry with your muscles, or allow yourself to arch and let the weight drop on the joints of your back.

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To Progress Extend your legs out straight. Keep your abs contracted so that your back does not pull into an arch. You may need to stretch your front hip muscles (flexors) so that you can straighten your legs without your low back being pulled into an arch. There will be a small space under your low back, but not a large arch. Many people have hips so tight that they cant straighten their legs without their back being pulled into a large arch. This is where you stretch, strengthen, and retrain your muscles to hold your body properly.

But Shouldnt You Keep Knees Bent? Its commonly taught that you must keep your knees and hips bent to protect your back and keep your back from arching and to put your back into proper position when doing ab exercise. But it is your own muscles that should do that for you. You would never learn to use your muscles the way you really need them when standing up. You cant walk or move properly in real life with your knees and hips bent that much. Yet many people do keep their hip bent all the time when standing, then exercise that way too, which feeds a negative cycle of tight hip, bent hip, pain, and, ironically, an arched back just to stand up straight. Their hips get so tight that they even need a pillow under their knees to sleep. What they need is to stretch the front of their hip so their hip and legs can extend properly. The Ab Revolution teaches you to understand how your muscles need to move, how your posture needs to be, and how to retrain everything for safe, effective movement all the time. Carry-Over to Real Life Think of all the exercises that involve lifting weights overhead exercises where you should stand without arching, as you have practiced in this exercise above, but dont. If you allow your back to arch, the force of the moving weight comes crashing down on your low back. When you do standing weight lifting, control your posture with what you learned from this lying-down training exercise.
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Use your own muscles, not just bending your knees to control your posture. If you use your abs for posture adjustment during all your standing movements, this exercise will not only work your abs for the moment, but all day when you really need it standing up.

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Using Abs to Control Torso Posture for Reaching and Lifting Overhead

Purpose of this Exercise: To work your abs, and to train them to hold your back posture against resistance. Application to Daily Life: To train your abs and brain to hold your torso and back posture during movement and exercise, when reaching and lifting overhead. This is when many people have no concept of abs and, because of that, allow their upper body weight to pressure their low back many times a day: reaching, putting things on shelves, pulling shirts off, and even combing and washing hair. Using Body Weight Stand up and reach overhead with both hands. Did your ribs come up and your back arch?Tuck your hip under you to prevent over-arching, and correct your posture. Not in an exaggerated way, but just until your body is straight and supported. Keep your abs in use as if you were beginning a crunch, but not curling forward or bending your neck. Reach overhead again. Wave your arms around. Keep your torso from increasing the arch, no matter what.

Using Hand Weights and Packages Lift weights overhead. Keep your hip tucked under you. Keep your abs in use to prevent arching, as if beginning a crunch, but not curling forward or bending your neck. Transfer these skills to keeping healthy torso posture for common activities like lifting trays, putting cargo on car roof racks, lifting heavy packages onto counters, putting away groceries, lifting babies and children overhead, and whenever you lift and reach.
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All are arched in bad posture. Abs not in use for lifting.

Same lift with abs in use to straighten posture and protect the back.
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Using Bands or Cable Pulleys Use cable pulleys or tie the middle of a stretchy band or tube securely at head height or above. Turn your back. Hold one end in each hand. Lift arms overhead, controlling your posture with abs. Step away until there is tension on the band. Dont let your arms pull behind you. Try various arm exercises and movements while controlling your torso with your abs. This simulates keeping your posture against gravity and loads that you carry in daily life. This is also fun to do with a partner.

Bad posture, back arched, abs not in use.

Same exercise with abs in use to straighten posture and exercise against the pull of the bands
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Using Oblique Abs to Control Torso Posture When Reaching and Lifting Overhead

Purpose of this Exercise: To get a great workout for your oblique abs, and to train them to hold your back posture against resistance. Application to Daily Life: Holding your torso and back posture correctly to avoid strain and slouching to the side when reaching and lifting overhead. Using Bands and Pulleys Use a stretchy band, tubing, pulleys or even a pair of panty hose, to get started secured at about shoulder height. Hold both ends and turn sideways. Move away until there is more tension on the band. Maintain good posture. Hold your torso stable against the sideways pull of the stretchy cord. Dont let the band pull you into poor posture. Feel how to stabilize your body using your oblique abs.

Many Variations Do side curls, facing sideways to the band, and holding the band in front of your chest. Dont pull your arms to the sides; use your abs to move your body to the side. To progress, hold both arms overhead with your biceps against your ears, and do side curls. Walk around keeping your torso stable against the changing pull of the band. Use a hula-hoop. Try it with and without bands.
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Using Abs for Throwing and Other Overhead Arm Activities

Purpose of this Exercise: To work your abs, and to train them to hold your back posture against rapid onset resistance. Application to Daily Life: Train torso and back posture during speed and power movement, and when throwing and moving arms overhead. Use abs to power overhead activities and to protect your shoulder and back. When throwing and punching properly, your torso and legs should power most of it. But many people just arch their back and fling their arm. The fulcrum of the swing becomes the shoulder joint instead of the muscles of the abs and hip, and the arched posture drops much weight on the low back. In baseball pitches and tennis serves, for example, by not contracting your abs first and using your torso to power the move, you can overload your shoulder or elbow. Injury can eventually develop. Using Bands or Cables Use a stretchy band or rubber tubing with the middle secured at about shoulder height, or cable pulleys. Hold both ends, one in each hand. Turn your back. Hold both arms overhead with your biceps to your ears, without allowing the resistance to pull your back into an arch or pull your arms behind you. Feel how to stabilize your body and stand straight using your abs. Move away to put more tension on the band and still stand up straight. Try the action of doing crunches standing up to get the idea of initiating arm action with your abs first. Dont allow your arms to move or your neck to come forward. Pivot your body from your abs.

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Simulate throwing a ball with one arm. Push off your feet, turn your hip, and contract your abs so that your torso curls. Only then does the arm come forward. Feel the pivot coming from your abs, and body, not just your shoulder.

Bad posture, back arched, abs not in use.

Abs in use to properly change back posture and power the throw.

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Using Abs for Side and Underhand Arm Activities

Purpose of this Exercise: To work your abs (front and oblique), and to train them to hold your back posture against moving resistance. Application to Daily Life: Learn to keep your torso and back posture correct during movement and exercise, when reaching and lifting to the side. Not using your abs for arm tasks is a common contributor to shoulder pain. By not contracting your abs first and using your torso to power the move, you overload your shoulder. This doesnt happen just when swinging a tennis racquet, or in a high brace in kayaking. Reaching over the car seat for heavy items in the back seat frequently adds to rotator cuff injury. When you use your arms to exercise on pulley machines, throw side pitches, or pull or push things from laundry to dogs on a leash use your abs. Push off your feet. Bend your knees. Turn your hip. Contract your abs, stabilize the shoulder, and then initiate action with your arm. All the common arm exercises with dumbbells and pulleys can be retrained to use your abs first. Turning Moves Use a stretchy band, rubber tubing, or cable pulleys secured at about waist height. Hold both ends if youre using bands, and turn sideways. Swivel your body away from the resistance. Keep your knees bent and turn from your hips, keeping your torso straight as a unit, not twisting from your waist. Turning at Varied Angles Hold the band at a strong tension and face various angles toward and away from the band. Practice moving your arms for common activities, retraining yourself to use abs first. Try the motion of combing your hair (or washing your head, if
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youre bald), brushing teeth, hanging up clothes, writing on the board, underhand and side pitches, and anything else you need for daily life. Moving Stabilization Drills Have a friend hold the other end of the band and pull you in odd directions while you practice torso stabilization. This simulates walking a dog, or carrying packages and a squirming baby while trying to get in the door.

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Using Abs for Punching

Purpose of this Exercise: To work your abs (front and oblique) against quickly-moving resistance. Application to Daily Life: To keep your torso and back posture correct and safe during punching in martial arts and boxing exercise classes. Kickboxing classes are popular. In many video tapes, you hear much mention of core and ab stabilization, but when you watch them you see the arched postures that injure backs. It is also a sure sign that they cannot generate punching force, because their main core muscles are not driving the punching arm or leg. The fulcrum of the punch becomes the low back bones instead of the muscles of the abs and hip. Training Abs for Punching Stand near a wall. Stretch your arm forward in punching position. Dont hit the wall; just rest your knuckles as if you had just hit the wall. Push the wall with your fist, without bending your elbow. Allow the push of your arm to arch your back. Push increasingly hard. Youll feel pressure, maybe a familiar ache in your low back. (Dont do this if you have back pain.) Fix your posture with your abs, as if beginning a crunch but not curling your neck forward. Keep hips tucked under, with your body in a slight curl. You should feel the back pain disappear, and a new strength in your punching arm. Practice your punch with the new supported posture. Dont allow your back to arch at any point. Maintain your slightly tucked posture. Dont hunch forward. That puts your chin closer for your opponent hit it.
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Punching should not initiate from the arm or shoulder, but from the lower body. First tilt your hip to prevent arching by using your abs. Push off your feet, turn your hips, exhale, and keep the contraction coming from your abs to push your torso and arm forward. Dont arch your back

In both the puncher and receiver above, the arched torsos transmit force to the low back. If real fighters punched with this arched posture, theyd hurt their backs and not get much of a punch.
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Train Abs for Punching Using Bands Use a stretchy band, rubber tubing, or cable pulleys, with the middle secured around anything solid at shoulder height or above. Turn your back, still holding both ends of the cord. Keep your arms in front of you. Dont let the cord pull you into an arch or pull your arms behind you. Feel how to stabilize your body using your abs. Increase tension on the band and still stand up straight. Contract abs first. Push off your feet and legs, turn your hip into the punch and then, using your abdomen as the fulcrum, lever your arm forward into a powerful punch. Breathe out. Keep your heels down when you punch. This can be done looping your band around something behind you, or back-to-back with a partner holding bands looped around yours.

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Using Abs For Pushing

Purpose of this Exercise: To work all of your abs (front, oblique, and transversus) against heavy resistance. Application to Daily Life: Good, safe torso and back posture during pushing and slow, powerful moves. Stand with both hands against a wall. Let your back arch. Begin pushing the wall with your hands, without bending your elbows. Allow the push of your arm to arch your back. Push increasingly hard. Youll feel pressure, maybe the familiar ache in your low back. (Dont do this if you have back pain.) Fix your posture with your abs, as if beginning a crunch but not bending your neck. Keep your hip tucked under you, so your body is in a slight curl. You should feel the back pain disappear and a new strength. Breathe in, tuck your hips, press off your feet, use your hips and abdomen as the fulcrum, and breathe out as you lever your upper body forward in powerful pushing action.

Use the Ab Revolution principles when pushing heavy objects. You will save your back and generate more pushing force.
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Using Abs for Kicking

Purpose of this Exercise: To work all of your abs against quickly-moving resistance, when using your legs. Application to Daily Life: Correct and safe torso and back posture during kicking and leg movement. The same problems occur in exercise and martial arts classes during kicking as with punching and pushing, as described in the previous sections. People allow their back to arch and they just swing their leg around. The fulcrum of the kick becomes the low back joints instead of the muscles of the abdomen and hip. Train Abs for Kicking Using Body Weight Stand facing a wall at a distance to swing a front kick. Put the bottom of your foot against the wall as if you just kicked it. Let your back arch. Begin pushing the wall with your foot without allowing your knee to give way. Youll feel pressure, maybe a familiar ache in your low back from daily bad posture habits. (Dont do this if you have back pain.) Fix your posture by using your abs as if beginning a crunch, but not bending your neck forward. Keep your hip tucked under, so that your body is in a slight curl. You should feel the back pain disappear and a new strength in your kicking leg. With the new supported posture, practice kicking toward the wall and back to ready position. Dont allow your back to arch at any point in your kick. Maintain your slightly tucked-under posture. Dont hunch forward or round your upper back. That is bad for your back and puts your chin closer to your opponent to hit you.

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Try the same technique for a side kick. Stand sideways to a wall at a distance to swing a side kick. Put the bottom of your foot against the wall as if you had just kicked it sideways. Feel the difference between letting your back arch, and tucking enough to straighten your back without rounding it.

Use this technique for kicks used in many sports, from martial arts, to soccer, to swimming. Train Abs for Front Kicking Using Bands These exercises can be done looping your band around something behind you, or back to back with a partner holding bands looped around yours. Use a stretchy band, rubber tubing, or cable pulleys secured around anything solid at about hip height or below. To train front kicks, secure one end of the band or tubing handle around one leg and turn your back to the resistance of the band. Step away to put tension on the band. Dont let it pull your back into an arch. Feel how to stabilize your body using abs to stand up straight. Contract your abs first. Push off your standing leg. Do not curl your upper body forward. Using your abdomen as the fulcrum, breathe out. as you lever your leg forward into a powerful kick. Keep your standing heel down when you kick.

Train Abs for Side Kicking Using Bands Turn to the side against the resistance of the band. Secure one end of the band or tubing handle around the outside leg. Use your abs to hold your posture from arching during the kick.

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Using Backpacks, Babies, and Bags as Ab Exercise

Purpose of this Exercise: To work your abs, and to train them to hold your back posture when standing and carrying weight. Application to Daily Life: To keep your torso and back posture correct when carrying common daily objects. Shoulder bags and backpacks dont make you arch your back or have bad posture; not using your torso muscles to counter the pull, and allowing your back to arch, is the problem. Not only do people let their posture slouch under their own body weight, they allow their body to sag under the weight of things they carry. Try this: Stand up wearing any heavy bag or backpack. Stand sideways to see your profile in a mirror. If you stand without using your abs, youll notice that you arch your back under the weight of the bag. Youll feel pressure, and maybe the old familiar ache in your low back. (Dont allow this to happen if you have back pain.) If you arch, fix your posture by tucking your hips under as if starting a crunch, but not bending your neck or body so much that you hunch or round forward. Feel your torso straighten against the pull of the bag. You should feel the back pain disappear. If you lean forward against the weight of the bag, stand straight up and feel your abs working.

Remember to do this all the time with everything you carry. Maintain upright posture, not hunched, or allowing your back to arch. People go to a gym to strap a weight machine onto their back to pull it forward to work their muscles. Your bags can become a free, built-in ab exercise.

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Using Backpacks, Babies, and Bags as Oblique Ab Exercise

Purpose of this Exercise: To work your oblique abs, and to train them to hold your posture when carrying weight. Application to Daily Life: To keep your torso and back posture correct when carrying common daily objects on one hip or shoulder. If you habitually let your back curve to the side under the weight of things you carry, instead of simply holding good posture by using your muscles, you can eventually tighten your back and even deform your bones into a curve. Even if you dont have scoliosis, an abnormal sideways curve, you can get a curve just like it from bad posture. This is preventable. Try this while wearing a knapsack, holding a baby, or carrying a heavy handbag on one shoulder or hip: Experiment with the difference between maintaining proper posture to hold the weight, and letting your torso sway to the side under the weight, or hiking your shoulder up. Fix your posture by engaging your oblique abs to straighten your torso against the pull of the bag. Check your posture with a mirror, when you can. Practice walking around with the knapsack and maintaining your upright posture, not bent in any direction against the pull of the bag.

Remember to do this all the time, with everything you carry. You could burn calories, save your back, and get an ab and back workout, simply by holding good posture against the pull of your bags no matter where you wear them. People go to a gym to press sideways against a weight machine to work their obliques. Use packages, knapsacks, babies, and bags as a free workout for your oblique abs and back.
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Using Abs to Throw a Tantrum

Purpose of this Exercise: To work all of your abs more than you ever have, to train them to hold your back in proper position when doing vigorous movement, and to have a hilarious time doing it. Application to Daily Life: This exercise is directly useful to control torso posture when moving your arms and legs during any extreme activity. Also trains muscles to fight an attacker off. This is a silly and fun exercise, and a hard and effective one. It uses motions similar to those for bicycling but works muscles far more. The Ab Study, mentioned on page 15, lists the bicycle as the top exercise for the front abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis), and second most effective for your side abs, or obliques. But its not a functional exercise because what else is it good for? This exercise beats it in effectiveness, functionality, calorie burning, and sheer fun.

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Lie on your back. Lift arms, upper body, and legs in the air. Vigorously move them up and down, back and forth, in all directions. Kick hard. Pound the mat. Dont wrench yourself around, but get a workout. Yell if you want to: No! No! No! I wont do crunches! I wont! You cant make me! I dont want to! Play loud music, if it helps.This is also useful to train for kicking and punching someone who has thrown you down.

Remember that when you work your abs, you should work your back. Lie on your front. Lift your arms and legs up in the air. Vigorously pound your fists and legs up and down against the floor and up in the air, back and forth in all directions. Go fast and furiously. Lift your knees, and kick hard. Lift your arms high and back down. Yell if you want to, No! No! No! I wont! You cant make me do crunches! I dont want to! Again, play loud music if it helps.

Fitness classes love this one. They get a fun and hard ab and back workout, and leave class happy and exhausted. Youll feel your back, hip, buttock, and hamstring muscles get amazing exercise, and also work the difficult-to-target posterior shoulder. When you finish, youll be calm and happy. Youll have had the workout of your life. No wonder children use this.

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Ab-Only Exercises are Not Good Many people do only abdominal muscle exercises, or attend abonly exercises classes, thinking it will make their backs injury-free. There are two serious problems with this. Abdominal muscles and back muscles are different muscles. Doing ab exercise does not work your back muscles, any more than doing kicks makes your arms strong. Using abdominal muscles moves your torso to reduce the large arch to keep strain off your back. But saying that ab exercise strengthens you back is not really true. To strengthen your back you have to work your back muscles with specific exercises that contract them. Next, doing conventional ab exercises, which contract your abs to round you forward, adds to the round-shoulder problem that contributes to back pain in the first place. Just as your abs muscles, when used, prevents your upper body weight from slouching backward and pressuring your low back, your back muscles, when used, keep you from slouching forward. Slouching forward is a poor posture that people are usually very good at, and spend a great portion of their day doing. This forwardslouching posture slowly puts unhealthy pressure on back muscles, vertebrae, and nerves that exit the vertebrae. Forward slouching slowly pressures your discs to bulge out, and overstretches your back muscles. Keeping your back muscles, or any muscles, lengthened by poor posture weakens them. When your back is weak it can become so fatigued and strained at the end of the day from trying to hold up your body weight that it aches. You need to add exercises that contract your back muscles called back extension to strengthen your back, and to train you to hold your posture from slouching forward.

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Back Extension At the minimum, do at least ten back extensions every day and when you do ab exercise. Work up from there. Beside giving you a beautiful back for bathing suit wear, this exercise is a mainstay of most back-strengthening and pain-reduction programs. If you arent used to exercising your back muscles, you may be sore after doing these. This is not an injury; this is much-needed progress. If you feel muscles working, that is right. If you feel pinching or electric shock pain, dont continue the exercises. See your doctor. Lie face down, hands at your sides and off the floor. Slowly lift your upper body a few inches, then lower back to the floor. Dont force. Dont tilt your head back. Keep your head in line with your body. Start with one or two lifts. Gradually increase. To progress, move your arms from your sides to overhead. Dont force or yank. Lift with your muscles.

For your lower back, lift one leg off the floor, knee straight. Hold and lower. Then switch legs. To progress, lift both legs together.

These exercises, and full explanations of relieving back and neck pain, are detailed in the new edition of the book Health & Fitness in Plain English also by Dr. Jolie Bookspan. It has thirty-one chapters on all aspects of fitness, nutrition, health and joint pain, and sells for $24.95 (US). Order online at www.healthylearning.com, or toll free from the publisher: 1-888-229-5745.

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Should You Work Your Abs Every Day or Every Other Day? Its common for people to debate fiber type and fatigue, to decide whether to exercise abs daily or intermittently. Flurries of articles are written on this. What is missed is that, like your heart beating, you need your abs working all day, every day. Doing crunches or any other ab exercise, then not using abs to control your posture the rest of the day; allowing your upper body weight to press on your low back, is missing the whole point of what abs are supposed to do. Youre also missing the easiest opportunity to burn calories and get a free, all-day workout. Using your abs is like obeying the Ten Commandments: youre supposed to do it all the time, not just during your hour of worship. If you worked your abs all day, all the time to control your posture, you wouldnt need to go to a gym to do funny little crunches not every day, nor every few days. Why kill yourself working out, then ignore your abs the other 23 hours a day and undo all your efforts? Stand, sit, and reach well all the time, and youll exercise your abs without working out.

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How Do You Flatten Your Abdomen? Use your abs to change the curve of your back, to keep it from arching and curving your abdomen out. Its a shame that many people deliberately stand arched, and that exercises often done in gyms tighten the hip, stick the behind out, and encourage arching so that you wind up standing with your abdomen curved out just the opposite of what you wanted. No exercise selectively removes fat from a specific part. That myth is called spot reducing. Ab exercises alone will not remove fat from your abdomen. If spot reducing worked, people would have thin mouths from talking, speed skaters would have small legs, and the repetitive act of chewing and swallowing lots of food would make your face thin. Aerobic exercise burns fat. This fat comes from where it is stored. That means to lose fat, including fat from your abdomen, you need to run, swim, bike, row, dance, skip, skate, jog, ski, run, walk, dig, play, and move in general. Weight training builds muscle, which burns more calories. Get out and have fun. Regular ab exercise alone wont make you stand properly so that your back wont arch and your abdomen wont sag out. Its not sucking in or tightening its moving your torso into healthy position using Ab Revolution exercises, to use your abs for daily life.

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How Do You Get a Washboard? You have bands of fibrous tissue called fascia that run across your front and side abdominal muscles at intervals. Doing good abdominal work will enlarge the muscles enough to poke through the facial bands, giving a washboard or ripple effect. You wont see ripples if body fat covers everything. The entire package of getting results includes proper abdominal exercise, healthful meals on a regular basis, cutting out junk food, complex carbohydrates, and water in your diet to fuel good workouts, reduced fat under your skin (in order to see it all), and conscious use of abs all the time. Get out of the gym and use your body for real life moving, balancing, lifting, reaching, and having fun. Next time you are standing around noticing your back hurts, check if you are standing and moving in a way that is wrecking your back by not using your abs. Notice if you are letting your body weight, and the weight of everything you lift and carry, smash down on your low back. Check if your belt or waistband tilts downward in front and up in back, showing that you may be arching your back instead of holding straight posture. Use your abs to tip your hip back under you and lift your weight up and off your low back. Use the Ab Revolution to retrain your abs for ab exercise without going to a gym. Youll burn more calories. Youll be straighter and taller. Youll save your back. Youll be a better exerciser. Youll exercise your brain. Youll get a free, continuous, all-day workout. Its a revolution.

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More Praise for Dr. Bookspans Ab Revolution

Continued from the back cover: Youve done it again. Youre my hero. This is my stomach bible. From one professional to another, thank you for constantly discrediting the myths that are all too often forced upon us. - Audrey Tannenbaum, M.Ed., A.T.C., C.S.C.S., Athletic Trainer and Maccabean Games Triathlon Gold Medalist. Horsham, PA Dr. Bookspan, the brightest light in popular sports medicine, cuts away the myths and falsehoods to lead the reader to understanding. - Kelly Hill, M.D., Green Beret Lt. Col., SWAT Team Commander Using Dr. Bookspans revolutionary yet practical advice, I developed my abs more in the last 3 months than in the past 3 years doing crunches. Its encouraging to know that, by using them properly, I can develop my abs and improve my posture throughout the day. From Dr. Bookspans expertise, I have lost weight, built muscle, and eliminated chronic pain. - Joni Lawrence, Merck International Health Program Coordinator This is a book that everyone interested in good health and muscle tone should read especially personal trainers! . - J. Tom Millington, M.D., . Medical Director, St. Johns Pleasant Valley Hospital, CA

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Well, Jolie Bookspan has done it again! An expert at debunking scientific bunk, she has written an extremely interesting do-ityourself exercise guide. It provides a concept that can be used in every day life for the thousands (millions?) who have chronic lumbosacral pain due to poor posture and weak abdominal muscles. Freeing the crunchers from the boredom of useless exercise programs that are quickly abandoned, Dr. Bookspans Ab Revolution will find support from those of us who realize the importance of the natural use of the abs in maintaining good back posture and function. The program is simple, sensible and highly effective. The book is highly recommended to read and keep as a reference source. - Ernest Campbell, M.D., FACS, General Surgery www.gulftel.com/~scubadoc/

Whenever I have a question on rehab, or want practical advice on fitness training or musculoskeletal complaints, I turn to my friend and colleague, Dr. Jolie Bookspan. I trust her for good sense and her solid background in exercise physiology. - David Hsu, M.D., Ph.D., Neurology, Stanford

If I were to say something sage about exercise I am afraid that others will die laughing since my aversion to exercise is well known! I always wanted to have you as my personal trainer because you are the only person in the world who might get me to think otherwise about exercise. - Caroline Fife, M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston. Chief Consultant, CHeCS Training Program, Krug Life Sciences NASA

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More Books by Dr. Jolie Bookspan

Health & Fitness in Plain English New expanded edition! 31 fun chapters on all aspects of fitness, nutrition, health, and joint pain 371 pages; illustrated. $24.95 (US) ISBN: 1-58518-642-2 Order toll free: 888-229-5745 www.healthylearning.com Diving Physiology in Plain English The book for every scuba diver 246 pages; illustrated. $30.00 ISBN 0-930406-13-3 Order from the publisher Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) (301) 942-2980 www.uhms.org uhms@uhms.org Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine Review For Physicians Reviews the entire field, including board exam questions 226 pages. $50.00 ISBN 0-930406-17-6 Orders: www.uhms.org uhms@uhms.org Hyperbaric Medical Review For Certified Hyperbaric Technologist (CHT) and Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurse (CHRN) 190 pages. $40.00 ISBN 0-930406-18-4 Orders: www.uhms.org uhms@uhms.org
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Credits

Cover model: Paul Plevakas Front cover photo: Julia Lehman, Vision13 Photography Roman Chair and Captains Chair photos by Wowk Photography Author photos by Robert Troia Illustrations by Todd Sargood Some images 2001-2002, www.arttoday.com Photo models for exercises are Dr. Bookspans dedicated and hardworking students: Shelly Anthony Regina Basile Cynthia Brown Theresa Candelaria Emily Canon Louis Costa Dr. Martin Dembitzer Angela and Andrea Fleegle Elsa Leung Rhonda McJeff Stacia Mellbourne Travis Mesman Sara Rathfon Danielle Tobin

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About the Author

Dr. Jolie Bookspan knows abs. A career military scientist, she has a black belt in karate and 14 fights in the ring as an amateur kickboxer. After serving in the Army, she was research physiologist for the United States Navy studying survival in extreme environments from undersea to climbing mountains to outer space an interest that began as a child when she watched her grandfather walk barefoot over snow and ice to go ocean swimming every day. As a researcher, she carried gear up and down the mountains and deserts of India, Nepal, Asia, and Northern Africa; swam to work in an underwater laboratory; was advisor to The Discovery Channel, and police and military training departments; and was professor of anatomy at a college in the mountains of Mexico, where the entrance exam was getting up there without a nosebleed. Left paralyzed after breaking her back, neck, and most of everything else in an accident, she rehabbed using her own methods. Harvard clinicians have called her The St. Jude of the Joints in her private practice in sports medicine. She doesnt do crunches.