The ab curl-up
Just because this is one of the most commonly- performed trunk exercises don’t be fooled into thinking it’s easy. Poor technique compromises the effectiveness of the exercise, so it is worth checking that you are able to do it perfectly.
Muscles involved: Rectus abdominis, obliques.
Benefits: An effective exercise for recruiting the rectus abdominis muscle and increasing its general strength.
Functional anatomy: The curl-up involves flexion of the thoracic portion of the spine to lift the weight of the shoulders and head off the floor, using the rectus abdominis assisted by the obliques. The lumbar spine remains fixed during the movement. For optimum benefit it is important to ensure that the shoulders and neck do not assist the abdominals. Do not place any undue strain on the neck or low back structures.
Who should do it: Everybody, but particularly those needing to strenghten their stomach muscles. It can be used as part of a workout for whole body, or core, strength.
Start position (above)
●Lie on your back, with knees bent and feet comfortably flat on the floor;
●Adjust your pelvis so that your lumbar spine is in the neutral position. You should feel a slight gap between your back and the floor;
●Curl up your head and bring your chin towards your chest, fixing your neck position as if you were holding an apple between your chin and neck;
●Place your hands to your ears and fix your arms open with your elbows pointing out to the side.
Curl-up movement (below)
●Slowly, focusing on your abdominals, curl your upper back off the floor. Do not move any other body part and keep your arms, shoulders, neck and legs relaxed as the abs pull you up. If the movement is performed correctly, your head and arms will curl up as one unit with your shoulders;
●Stop once your upper back is off the floor. Do not tilt your pelvis or pull with your thighs to lift yourself any higher;
●Pause for one count at the top.
●Slowly, again focusing on the abdominals, lower your upper back down to the floor;
●Do not move your head or arms as you return to the start position.
By eliminating any arm and head movements, you make this exercise significantly more difficult. Once you have perfected this strict technique, you may need to add weight for progression.Try holding a dumbbell behind your head (again ensuring you do not lift with your arms) to add weight to the curl-up.