I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again — when it comes to sculpting visible abs, you’ll want to focus on your overall body fat percentage, rather than adding endless crunches or crunches to your routine. Your diet, heart levels, stress and hormones can all affect your body fat percentage, but you can find out how to calculate your percentage and why it’s important, here in Tom’s guide.
However, if you’re looking to strengthen your abdominal muscles, there are many benefits to doing so, none of which are aesthetic. Your abdominal muscles protect your spine from injury, so making sure they are strong can help reduce lower back pain. Your abdominal muscles also hold your torso upright when you move, so strong abdominal muscles can improve your posture, and make everyday tasks like carrying shopping a little easier.
But what about seated abdominal exercises? If you’re having trouble getting down to the floor to do ab exercises, are pregnant, or are looking for an ab workout you can do at your desk between meetings, I’ve found the answer. Seated arms activate your core muscles without having to open your exercise mat, and I added 50 daily repetitions to my routine to learn more about the exercise. Read on to find out what happened.
As a reminder, if you’re new to exercise, pregnant, or returning to doing sit-ups after an injury, it’s always a good idea to check with a personal trainer before starting a new routine. What’s right for me may not be right for you and your body, and moving poorly can put you at risk for injury.
How to perform the supine position while sitting
Here’s how to do a perfect supine position:
- Start by sitting on the edge of the chair. For this exercise, you will need a sturdy chair that allows you to place your feet flat on the floor. Make sure the chair does not have wheels.
- With your feet flat on the floor, either cross your arms across your chest or place them directly in front of you. If you want to add a little more challenge, hold one of the best adjustable dumbbells with both hands.
- Engage your core, thinking of sucking your belly button into your spine, and slowly lower your torso toward the backrest of the chair, keeping your spine straight.
- Pause when you feel like you’ve leaned back as far as you can – you should feel your abs working hard to stabilize you here.
- Reverse the movement and return to the starting position.
- That’s one rep.
As with most of the best ab exercises, the key to getting the most out of this exercise is to move slowly and with control. Your core muscles should be working hard against gravity at the bottom of this movement, with your torso leaning back, so be sure to pause for a few seconds.
I practiced lying down every day for a week, and this is what happened to my body
Here’s what happened when I added back squats to my daily exercise routine for a week:
I was surprised at how hard my heart worked
This isn’t my first attempt at a seated ab workout, but every time I add seated ab exercises to my routine, I’m surprised at how hard I work my core muscles. I tried this challenge when I was seven months pregnant, so lying on an exercise mat wasn’t an option, and I loved feeling my abs twitch after 50 reps.
As with most of these week-long challenges we signed up for at Tom’s Guide’s Fitness Office, I was bored by the end of the week. I was able to mix things up by holding a light dumbbell in my hands one day, or raising my feet a few inches off the floor to force my core to work harder.
I had to focus on keeping my back straight
You don’t want your back to arch in this movement, it should remain straight the entire time as if you were holding a plank. To do this, you really need to focus on engaging your core muscles by sucking your belly button into your spine.
I videotaped my form on day 2 and noticed that after 30-40 repetitions, I started to lunge and arch my back. For the rest of the week, I broke my workout up into manageable chunks between or during meetings to make sure I was moving well (just make sure my camera was off).
Moving slowly is key
Without sounding like a broken record, the hardest part of this exercise is when your torso leans back. To increase the intensity, I would stay here and count to three, to really feel my deep core muscles working hard. This is a technique called time under stress, This is often found in weightlifting, but it actually means increasing the amount of time the muscle remains under tension while working.
My judgment? This was a great exercise to add to my routine, and although I didn’t notice any obvious changes in my core after one week (both pregnant, and because the human body unfortunately doesn’t build muscle that quickly), I was really feeling it in my midsection. What are you waiting for – try this to add some movement to your workday, and reap the benefits to your heart’s content!