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The Ab Revolution
By Dr. Jolie Bookspan
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 nation’s 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
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.
............................... 39 What About “Captain’s Chair?” ..................................................................................................................................... 37 What About Ab Machines? ..... 35 How to Use Abs for Stretching Your Legs..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 15 What’s Wrong with Crunches?.............................................. 34 How to Use Abs for Stretching Your Arms................................ 12 What About the Ab Study?......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 21 How to Use Your Abs When Standing Up................................... 10 How Do Abs Help Your Back? ....................... 32 How to Use Abs for Reaching............................................................................................ 25 How to Use Abs for Carrying Loads .. 6 Abs are Your Guy Wires from the Front ........................... 36 Real Athletes Use Abs................................................................................ 19 What Are All the Muscles Called? ...................................... 1 Why Do Abs? .................................................................. 4 What Exactly Do Abs Do? .............. 9 What is Lordosis? .... 23 How to Use Abs When Doing Other Exercises............................... 42 v ................................ 3 Using Abs Doesn’t Mean “Sucking Them In” or Making Them “Tight” .......................................... v Revolution! ..............................................................................Table of Contents Dedication........... 17 But Aren’t You Supposed to Stick Your Behind Out?....................................................................................................................................................... iii Table of Contents ...................................................... 16 Doing Abs Doesn’t Automatically Change Posture or Back Pain................................................ 38 What About Leg Lifts? .............. 5 How Do Abs Control Posture? .....
..........92 “Ab-Only” Exercises are Not Good ........................................ Babies.....................................................................................................................................................................................................61 How Many.......................47 What About Lower Abs and Reverse Crunches? ............................................................................................................................ and Bags as Oblique Ab Exercise.59 What About Neoprene Waist Bands?.................63 Using Oblique Abs to Control Torso Posture..................................................................... Babies.......49 What About Exercise Balls?...................................................................................96 How Do You Flatten Your Abdomen?............58 What About Miracle Liquids and Fat Burners? ..60 What Exercises Work Your Abs the Way You Need For Real Life? .....68 Using Abs to Control Torso Posture When Using Weights .87 Using Abs for Kicking ..........................................................57 What About Electronic Ab Zapper Belts?.........................56 What About Ab Rocking Devices? ..............................................94 Should You Work Your Abs Every Day or Every Other Day?.......Arching Isn’t the Culprit ................................................................52 What About Ab Isolators? ............................44 What About Abdominal Twists? .................91 Using Abs to Throw a Tantrum...................................79 Using Abs for Throwing and Other Overhead Arm Activities ...........................76 Using Oblique Abs to Control Torso Posture When Reaching and Lifting Overhead .............................71 Using Abs to Control Torso Posture for Reaching and Lifting Overhead ........................................................................................82 Using Abs for Punching .............................80 Using Abs for Side and Underhand Arm Activities ...................................................88 Using Backpacks............................62 Using Abs to Control Torso Posture for Normal Standing ................97 vi ............ and Bags as Ab Exercise......90 Using Backpacks........................ How Often? .....................................................................................................84 Using Abs For Pushing...............................................................................................................................
..................................... 98 More Praise for Dr........................................... 102 Health & Fitness in Plain English. Bookspan’s Ab Revolution ................................................................................................................... 103 About the Author..............................................................................................How Do You Get a “Washboard?”........ 105 vii ................ 100 More Books by Dr.......................................... Jolie Bookspan....................................................... 102 Credits.....
walk. It’s practically universal to see a roomful of exercisers cranking away doing ab exercise. and back pain. 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. Most people have no idea what abs specifically do. But strengthening alone does not automatically change posture. Fitness has become “Fast Food” — stripped of real content and value.” You can’t move or breathe properly that way. The old. reach. Then.The Ab RevolutionTM Revolution! This is a revolution in ab fitness. usual ab exercises “miss the boat” because they don’t transfer skills to real life. how to use them when standing up or during things you do in real life. 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. then stand up and walk away with arched posture and no use of abs at all. back pain. Plenty of people with strong muscles and tight abs have terrible posture and persistent back pain. Using abs is not “tightening them. or even that you are supposed to at all. and thought to be healthy when it is not healthy. and lift with no use of your abs. poor posture. you go back to your “real life” and stand. “do three sets (or however many sets) of 10 crunches. To most people. The “experts” say to do crunches for strong muscles to “support” you. It doesn’t happen automatically just from exercising.” is the root of the problem because it separates using abs from the rest of your life. Shake up your entire thinking about abs. Ab exercise has become hugely popularized as something you specially “do. 1 . and which make your neck hurt. or movement in real-life activities. and tight muscles are a factor in headaches. The very thing we regard as exercise advice.” then never use the rest of the time.
You’ll exercise your brain. You’ll strengthen your body. three to five times a week. This book gives you an understanding of what abs really do. shoulders.Dr. The exercises not only strengthen your abs. what they don’t do. You’ll save your back. then throwing knives at each other the rest of the time. and how to consciously use your abs for all your daily activities — even standing up. but your back. and legs too. Jolie Bookspan Doing specific moves for an hour and not knowing to use them for daily life is like couples being nice in a counselor’s office. arms. and teach you how your muscles need to work together in your real life. This method revolutionizes how you think about abs and how you use them. It teaches specific skills to make your life better. It’s a revolution. You’ll strengthen your abs. not all the time. 2 . You’ll get exercise without going to a gym. They were told to be nice for 30 minutes. You’ll burn calories.
” or how.The Ab RevolutionTM Why Do Abs? More than other exercises. Yet 8 out of 10 people still have back pain. But exactly what? It’s something vague about “support. or even know they are supposed to. They do crunches in every workout. They do abs in rehab programs for back pain. Poor posture is common. but never use their abs for real life.” What does “support” really mean? Most people don’t know what abs specifically “do. But why? It’s “something” to do with helping the back. But what exactly do “abs” do for your back? It’s “something” to do with posture. Why do the exercises so often “fail?” 3 . They think it just happens automatically. everyone seems to want to “do abs”.
exercise. and teach you exciting new skills to be fitter. It wouldn’t change your posture. It will change your whole way of thinking about abs. and pain-free. and it doesn’t teach you how to use your abs the way you need for sports. or normal daily activities. for good posture. healthier. Moreover. 4 . Another often-repeated instruction is: “press your navel to your spine and contract your gluteal muscles. It’s voluntary movement to change the amount of bend and arch in your spine. You can have poor posture and a terribly arched back. You can’t breathe properly that way. The tightening didn’t change anything.” These are practically universal phrases to describe using abs. Moving your torso into good posture by using your torso muscles is the same.Dr. not tightening them. or any muscles. Try this: bend your elbow to bring your hand up to your face. Move your arm around. yet they are incorrect and outdated. and are not the way to use your abs the way you need them. That’s why it’s a revolution in ab fitness. Tightening is not how to use abs.” You can’t function or exercise normally that way. You voluntarily move your arm into the position you want by using the muscles. Now arch your back and make the abs tight with your back still arched. walking around with “tight” muscles is a common factor in headache and stress/strainrelated muscle pain. Yes. You didn’t tighten anything. Jolie Bookspan Using Abs Doesn’t 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. this is new and different. even with “tight” abs.
5 . What does “support” exactly mean? When you stand up and don’t use your abdominal muscles. All your different ab muscles connect your ribs to your hips. Using abs means using them like any other muscle. When you contract your abs. exaggerating the normal inward curve. and their back to arch. hips to drop down. 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. The joints of your spine bend. and across. protecting your joints and soft tissue. sides. curling your torso and taking the arch out of your back. your low back will sway. and irritate the joints called vertebral facets.” Then they stand and walk away with abs slack. Contracting your abs just enough to take out excess arching when you’re standing up keeps your upper body weight from slumping onto your low back. Most people only exercise their abs by hunching forward and sideways for a bunch of “repetitions.The Ab RevolutionTM What Exactly Do Abs Do? Most people use vague words like “support” to describe what abs do. It doesn’t mean holding yourself rigidly. it means holding yourself up easily without slouching backward or to the sides. and bends the joint. When any muscle contracts. they pull your ribs and hips closer to each other in various directions and amounts. it pulls on the bones it attaches to. 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. where each vertebra attaches to the one above and below it. allowing their ribs to lift up. on the front.
But strengthening does not automatically “support” your back or change your posture. You have to voluntarily use your abs to change your posture.Dr. Jolie Bookspan How Do Abs Control Posture? It’s a common assumption that doing ab exercise to strengthen your abs will help your posture and back. 6 . That is one big reason people slouch. Put your other hand on the front and middle of your hip bone where your front abs begin. They aren’t using their muscles to prevent it. stand up and put one hand on the front of your ribs. where your front ab muscles attach. If you don’t consciously use your muscles to hold you up. To understand what abs do for your posture when you use them properly. you will sag under gravity.
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. showing how slack ab muscles allow your back to arch. They hunch you forward. Your torso will curl and your back will round. You will even be shorter because of the increased curve in your spine. That is what crunches do for you. 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. draw your two hands toward each other. arch your back and let your ribs lift and your abdomen curve out. The distance between your hands increases. Hold that position.The Ab RevolutionTM Still holding the top and bottom of your abs. 7 .
Dr. they hold you from arching backward. Your torso comes upright to a straightened. and stop the strain and wear and tear of dropping your upper body weight on your low back. Jolie Bookspan To use your abs to pull you up to stand properly. This is what abs do to control posture. not arching back. taller position. Use your abs at the length that holds you up in good posture. Don’t curl so much that you round forward. bring your hands toward each other so the distance between your ribs and hips decreases. When used properly. 8 .
abs keep you from arching backward. You can have strong ab muscles. giving you that training. you will round forward in bad posture. you will arch backward in bad posture. and train your brain to remember.The Ab RevolutionTM Abs are Your Guy Wires from the Front Like a guy wire keeping a tree from falling backward. The guy wires in back are your back muscles. 9 . When you use them. You can have strong back muscles. Use your “guy wire" muscles to keep you from sagging in bad posture. but if you don’t voluntarily use them to pull your shoulders back. they keep you from slouching forward. They pull forward to keep your upper body weight from arching back and pressuring your low back. 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. but if you don’t voluntarily use them to pull you forward. The Ab Revolution is the missing link.
Technically. 10 .” along with the usual (but incorrect) “tighten your abs. Chronically pressuring the bones and other structures of your back with this bad posture can eventually deform them. You’ll see this overly-arched (lordotic) posture in an astonishing number of fitness videos. to bouncing around in aerobics. from leg lifts. magazines. This is terrible posture and injurious to your back. which makes one backbone slip forward on the next. by retraining your posture and use of your muscles to hold you in healthy position. “Sway back” is not a structural condition you are born with or “just have” (or want to have). Lordosis is usually completely controllable by using your abs to keep your hip from tipping forward. adding to back arching.” but if you look at them. If you habitually stand with your back arched. Jolie Bookspan What is Lordosis? Many people with back pain are told they have a “condition” called lordosis. and to use The Ab Revolution all the time during daily activities. They think this is something anatomic. It has commonly come to mean too much inward curve. but is just a bad posture habit. If you have a condition called spondylolisthesis. like human bonsai. to lifting weights. and to reduce the overly-large arch that makes your back hurt. the word “lordosis” originally meant the normal inward curve of the low back. your back may become so tight that it gets stuck arched in the “booty-out” posture. they arch their back and thrust out their behind in dozens of exercises. books. unavoidable. and classes. or something that “just happens” to them like flu. allowing the back to sway.Dr. this is all the more reason not to allow yourself to arch more this way. Use The Ab Revolution to avoid — even reverse — this. It can create all kinds of back pain. The video star may say “keep neutral spine.
which pressures the low back. Lordosis can be easily controlled by straightening your posture using your own muscles. 11 .The Ab RevolutionTM This ancient Greek fresco shows the lordotic (overly-arched) posture.
then.Dr. Bend your fingers forward to represent your abs at work. The back of your hand (facing right) is your back. or that abs don’t do it automatically. But they don’t know specifically what abs do. Keep your palm upright. Your palm (facing left) is the front of your body. how do abs help your back? Try this: Hold your right hand up with your thumb toward you. bending your fingers back as far as they will go. Try curling and straightening your body too as you do this. only your fingers arch back. Jolie Bookspan How Do Abs Help Your Back? People usually have some vague idea that abs have something to do with helping the back. With your left hand. You can have the strongest abs and never use them to do anything for your back. press against the fingers of your right hand. Lift your fingers back up again to simulate using your back muscles to straighten up. So. See the pinched and folded-back crease at the knuckle joints of your right hand? 12 .
all the time. 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. with your ab muscles slack. That is what you are doing to your low back every day when you don’t consciously use your abs to prevent that kind of arching. The stretched palm of your hand represents your abdomen. That is how you need to use your abs to control your posture when standing up — all day. Your fingers come back up into straight line.The Ab RevolutionTM This shows how your body weight falls on the joints of your low back when you don’t use your ab muscles to prevent arching back under gravity. 13 . every day. use the muscles in the palm of your right hand to straighten your right hand against the push of your left. That shows the forces on your low back when you walk without using abs. That is running with your back arched and not using your abs. Now bounce against your fingers quickly and hard. Bounce against your fingers so that they rock back repeatedly. Ouch.
Bring the back of your head against the wall. even when you are relaxed. Jolie Bookspan A surprising number of people are so round-shouldered that they cannot stand up straight without arching their back. behind and shoulders touching the wall. Practice keeping your shoulders and head back without arching your back to do it. Stretch the front of your shoulder so that it doesn’t pull forward into a roundshouldered posture. Try this: • • Stand against a wall with your heels. they arch their back instead of straightening their shoulders. That is where your head should be for healthy posture. If your upper back and shoulders are so stiff that you can’t stand up straight without arching your back. To bring their head up. Did your ribs come up and your back arch? Fix that with your abs. Don’t lift your chin. 14 . you need to work on upper back strengthening and flexibility.Dr. too. Stand against a wall or lie flat without a pillow to practice head and upper back posture.
doing crunches and other forwardrounding ab exercises “work” your abs but are not a great way to do it. Plenty of muscular people have poor posture. 15 . or for back pain control. Even if you don’t care about posture or back pain and want only cosmetic results. You don’t need to hunch forward for daily activities. But the surveyors missed three basic concepts: • An exercise can work a muscle well. it still may not be useful for things you need for daily life. Just like smoking “works” to lose weight. and shows you how to transfer posture and back pain control skills to your daily life. pain. and bad movement habits. but you do need to stand and walk upright without arching backward. but still promote bad posture and not be good for the rest of you. Posture and muscle use is not automatic.The Ab RevolutionTM 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. Simply strengthening a muscle will not automatically change your posture for proper use in sports or recreation. Even if an exercise activates your ab muscles. the Ab Revolution will give you a better workout. and are not good for the rest of you. None of the exercises they tested and recommend specifically train your body for daily use the way you really need them. Crunches don’t train that action. • • The Ab Revolution teaches a whole different approach to abdominal muscle use. gives exercises that effectively use and develop your abs. Just strengthening a muscle does not train it for how you need to use it.
bent-over person. which may be mechanically promoting the back and neck pain they think they are working their abs to prevent. Crunches don’t train you how to use your abs the rest of the day. Crunches don’t train you for that. Look at crunches sideways and see what it would look like to stand up like this — like an old. This is the poor posture you’re training with crunches. In life. No wonder that doing 10 minutes of “abs” a day can’t counteract the other 23 hours and 50 minutes of non-use and wrong use. Did you know that the most important use of your abs is when you are standing up and reaching or lifting overhead? Most people can’t imagine how to use their abs while standing up or during normal everyday life. Crunches promote poor posture.Dr. Crunches make people — who likely spend much of their day already hunched over a work area — practice that hunched posture. instead of allowing you to arch back and lean your body weight onto your low back. 16 . your abs need to work isometrically — at one length — to hold your torso upright. Jolie Bookspan What’s Wrong with Crunches? Crunches don’t work your abs the way you need for real life. You know how the elderly got hunched over like that? They practiced. even when done properly.
17 . including back muscles) to adjust your posture yourself. make your mistakes until you remember. In the same way. you will still wind up with poor posture. This is why doing crunches. strengthening your abs does not make them do anything automatically to support your back. Doing ab exercises or core exercises is not like getting a shot of penicillin or going to confession — it doesn’t “fix” things. or how many crunches you have done. just like using any other voluntary muscles to move any other part of your body Using your abs is more like toilet training. You have to deliberately use your abs (and other posture muscles.The Ab RevolutionTM Doing Abs Doesn’t Automatically Change Posture or Back Pain If you strengthen your biceps muscles. it doesn’t automatically hold your arm up in the air. You need to consciously use your ab muscles to move your torso to the right position. then you hold it even when you don’t feel like it. or “support” your arm. If you don’t. yoga. You need to learn what to do. no matter how muscular you are. or rehab exercises — as exercises without concepts and the knowledge to apply it during real activities — does not often work as expected.
Dr. This is injurious to the back and loses the effectiveness of the exercise. His abs are plenty tight. 18 . Jolie Bookspan Having tight abs doesn’t fix your posture or help your back. but he is still standing in poor posture with an overly-arched 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.” they mistakenly think holding this bad posture is. You’re missing a free workout of your torso muscles. eventually tightening them. and discomfort. Without using your abs to keep your weight from arching back. The “booty posture” is unhealthy and unsightly for several reasons: • • • It is plain bad posture. smashing down on your low back. thinking it looks good. 19 • . too. • It keeps the muscles in front of your hip and your low back in a shortened position. Your hips will have extra wear and tear and eventually hurt too. causing a vicious cycle of tightness. poor posture.The Ab RevolutionTM But Aren’t You Supposed to Stick Your Behind Out? Some people deliberately push their behinds out. interfering with normal walking and running mechanics. It is sloppy technique because it does not use your posture muscles properly. and all your weight rests on your low back bones. because your core muscles are not driving your limbs. poor use. Just as some people think that holding a cigarette or other drug is “cool. • • It changes the tilt of your hip. It is unhealthy because it injures your back. It is a sure sign that you cannot generate real force in your limbs for arm or leg activity. This bad posture has become so ingrained that many people think it is normal or desirable. Adding a barbell or overhead weights adds tremendous force.
This bad posture is accepted as normal by so many people that it is mistaken for. There’s no excuse for someone in fitness to display this lack of knowledge of health. 20 . Now you can laugh when you see “fitness” models shown standing or doing exercise with this sloppy. She is not using her abs to take the large arch out of her back. So does heroin. Jolie Bookspan Advertisements use this bad posture because sex sells.Dr. and even used to advertise for. unhealthy posture. fitness and trimness. You will laugh often because this unfit posture is a pervasive problem in fitness.
or rectus. Your oblique abdominals go diagonally across your sides. abdominal muscle pulls ribs to hips to bend you forward or prevent arching backward.The Ab RevolutionTM What Are All the Muscles Called? Ab muscles are named for their layout in your body. Your obliques work together in fun ways. When you contract both. they pull your right side closer to the middle of your pelvic bone so you twist to the left. sometimes four intersections across it. and work in combinations together. If you put your fingertips at the top of your pants pockets. or not straight. In this same manner you can use your right obliques to resist forces that would twist you to the right. They begin as broad muscles on each side of your lower eight ribs. you bend forward.” Your rectus abdominis starts on the front of your pelvic bone and runs up to attach where your middle ribs (fifth. When the external oblique fibers on your right side contract. The deeper external oblique fibers run almost straight down to your hip bones. Obliquus Internus Your internal obliques lie under your external obliques. your 21 . sixth and seventh) come together in front. They connect to each other in places. you twist to the right (or prevent twisting to the left). Obliquus Externus “Oblique” means slanted. called external obliques. under your rectus abs. your hands line up in the direction of the outer set. Not all the fibers run all the way up the muscle. The outer external obliques on each side fuse together in a tough band in a nice line down your front. When you contract your left external oblique. with three. If you cross your arms over your abdomen. You can see these lines in people trim enough. or prevent bending backward. Contracting your front. in the opposite direction. Rectus Abdominis The muscle straight up your front is your rectus abdominis. which in Latin means “the straight abdominal.
Contracting them all helps you bend forward or prevent arching backward. 22 . You’ll have better posture. Transversus Abdominis Your innermost and thinnest abdominal muscle. Change your posture from arching back. Your right internal oblique contracts to pull the middle of your ribs to your right hip. The left external and right internal work together to twist right. you can’t breathe in fully or properly (belly breathing). Just use them like other muscles to move your bones. twisting you to the right. To protect your back. After all. So the right external and left internal oblique work together to twist you left. or sagging to the side during daily life and when you exercise. They begin at your hip bone and angle up and in to your lower three or four ribs. You don’t have to tighten them. a major purpose of this muscle is to help full exhalation. You can feel it when you breathe out as completely as you can. goes across your abdomen to help compress it.Dr. and get a workout just standing and moving properly. They all can resist forces that would make you want to slouch or twist in bad postures to the sides. Moreover. you need to voluntarily change the shape of your back using all your ab muscles so that you don’t curve and strain your back under the weight of your upper body pressing down on it. It’s not the case that just tightening the transversus like a girdle will support your lower back when lifting or sitting. The left internal oblique twists you to the left. Using Them All You don’t have to know the names of the muscles to use them. when you hold it tightly. save your back. the transversus. Jolie Bookspan fingers assume the direction of the internal fibers.
Feel a new strong middle. Reach overhead. That throws weight on their low back again and again. You’ll keep a small inward curve. If you don’t have a mirror. try this: • Stand sideways and look in a mirror big enough to see your body. Keep this new posture all the time. Allow your body weight to sag so that you exaggerate your low back arch. Many people stand with far too much lumbar curve because they are not using their abs. pay close attention to what it feels like. Allow your weight to press on your low back. You may feel the familiar ache you often get and don’t know why. tuck your behind under. (Don’t do this if you have back pain). not learning backward or forward. using abs to move your torso upright. 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. • • • • 23 .The Ab RevolutionTM How to Use Your Abs When Standing Up Most people can’t imagine using their abs standing up. Your stomach will curve out in front. Tuck your hips under and pull your upper body forward. Your torso is straight. Still reaching 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. as if starting a crunch — just enough to reduce the large back arch. 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.
be able to lift more. but don’t know they are supposed to use their abs in real life when standing up. to prevent over-arching. Jolie Bookspan Use the Ab Revolution whenever you stand up and reach overhead — from pulling shirts off to reaching cabinets. to washing your hair. improve your posture. People do crunches all the time. You will save your back. and get a free all-day workout just from standing with your muscles in use. to lifting weights and babies overhead — to take the arch out of your back so your weight doesn’t press down and strain your low back. 24 .Dr.
The Ab RevolutionTM 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. Overhead Press Arching while lifting weight further compresses your low back. Back arched. mistakenly thinking it looks good. Use your abs to tuck your hips enough to take the large arch out of your back. Same exercise done properly. Sometimes you use abs to make a small adjustment. In either case. Bad posture. other times a larger one.” Some people deliberately arch while exercising. it is not healthy. 25 . Hard on the back. Abs reduce the arch and control back posture. Abs not in use.
You pressure your low back and get less arm exercise than you thought. Jolie Bookspan Triceps Curls When doing triceps curls. rather than the torso and arm muscles. You also miss the free ab workout you would get if you used abs to straighten your posture and save your back. 26 . Same exercise done properly with abs in use to reduce the arch and control back posture. Abs not in use. people often arch their back to bring the weight 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. The low back bears the weight. instead of lifting arms while keeping posture neutral.Dr. Back arched.
Some styles of yoga even teach to deliberately stand in this arched position.The Ab RevolutionTM Yoga Yoga won’t automatically “give” you good posture. Abs not in use. use your abs to tuck your hips and reduce the arched posture to stand properly. Instead. get an ab workout. You have to consciously use your muscles to move you into good. straight posture. That does not use the abs and is hard on the back. Same pose done properly with abs in use to reduce the arch and control back posture. Back overly-arched. Abs are often forgotten when doing yoga poses. 27 . and save your back. Bad posture.
Back arched. Same pose done properly with abs in use to reduce the arch and control back posture. 28 .Dr. Abs not in use. Jolie Bookspan Bad posture.
The Ab RevolutionTM Pushups Pushups with terrible arched posture (shown by the first. Tuck your hips and straighten your back (black shirt). Don’t do this for pushups or for standing up. 29 . Look sideways at this same terrible posture and see how they would look standing up this way: overly-arched. third. and last white shirt in the picture below) means your abs are not in use. This is common. and your back strains from hanging your weight on it in an arch. and lack of use of abs. bad posture. but hold your head up too. heads hanging. the more you’ll use abs. but don’t tuck so much that you hunch your back or hike your hips in the air. The more you tuck. You will save your back and make the pushup a terrific abs and core exercise. You will instantly feel your abs spring into use.
Jolie Bookspan Martial Arts You need your abs to straighten your back posture while doing many moves in martial arts.) They are not controlling their back posture.Dr. 30 . 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. (See pages 84 to 89 on punching and kicking for how. allowing it to arch too much.) Can you spot the students not using abs in this Karate class? (First on the left and second from the right.
The Ab RevolutionTM Walking You need to use your abs to keep your back from folding back in an arch during normal walking. and see how often you’ll find this bad posture in illustrations and photos from fashion to exercise. Many people allow too much arch. Look at illustrations in books and magazines. to dodge flying objects and fists as in the movies “The Matrix” and “Spiderman. 31 . Archery Archery is an activity where using abs saves more than your back. for “hiking out” to counterbalance sailboats in the wind. which allows body weight to grind down on the low back and decreases natural shock absorption. If you arch when drawing a bow and arrow. You need a small natural inward curve to keep your spinal column like a spring for shock absorption. Other Activities In many activities you need to lean back but still not arch. don’t arch your back. and for doing the limbo dance. Use abs to keep you sitting upright. 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. to take photographs from certain angles. your chest will protrude outward into the line of the bowstring. not arched or leaning back. Use good ab technique to keep your back from arching while leaning backward during windsurfing and water skiing. “Lat” Machines When using a weight machine to pull down a bar to your chest (lat pull-downs). You’ll get an ab workout and also get far more out of the exercise for your lats and chest. It’s surprising how many fitness books and articles talk about posture for walking but still show someone walking with an overly-arched torso. You can painfully “twang” your breast with the bowstring.” to be dipped while ballroom dancing. and to keep forces distributed on your discs.
32 Back is arched in bad posture against the anterior load. it’s common to arch back and rest the weight of the load rest on your hip. which puts the weight onto your low back. letting your low back take the brunt. Remember not to lean back or arch when carrying loads. Maintain your posture upright against the load. You’ll feel your abs working to do that. Jolie Bookspan How to Use Abs for Carrying Loads Packages Held in Front When carrying anterior loads. A surprising way to help your back is to strengthen your arms. held straight and upright against the anterior load of the drum. it’s more tempting to rest a carried weight on your hip and lean back. straining the back.Dr. Posture is good. . This is avoidable. When your arms are weak.
or to let the bag pull you backward into an arch. use your ab and back muscles to hold your torso posture upright without leaning forward or arching back. Packages Held In Back Backpacks and other things carried on your back don’t make you arch your back. Back is arched in bad posture against the posterior load. 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. it’s common to lean forward to rest the weight on your back. Instead. This is not an unavoidable consequence of pregnancy. .The Ab RevolutionTM Pregnancy Lack of use of abs is common — even deliberately exaggerated — during pregnancy. creating strain on the back. Your packs become a free core muscle workout. this is it. 33 Abs are in use to keep the back from arching against the posterior load. it is a lack of using abs. relieving strain. Not using your abs lets you arch your back. With posterior loads like knapsacks.
lifting the baby. for shelves. abs not in use 34 Same reach. Use this technique to get a better reach. tucking your hip — not rigidly. and their hand points straight to the ceiling. Don’t lean back. Their shoulder really did not stretch that much. Picture this: someone with shoulder pain goes to the doctor who asks them to reach overhead. groceries. Bad posture: back arched. pulling off shirts. combing hair. . every day. when you reach overhead. Now picture people arching when reaching like this all day. straighten your torso with your abs. using abs to straighten back posture. But what really happened was that they arched their back to lift their arm. packages. Jolie Bookspan How to Use Abs for Reaching People often arch their back when reaching for things. and at the gym to lift weights. and protection for your back. They are checked as having normal shoulder range of motion.Dr. Instead. but with easy. more exercise for your abs. You may notice that your arm doesn’t bend as high as you though because you’ve been using your back instead. They reach. supported motion.
letting your back arch. This is also a missed opportunity to use your abs to keep the good posture you need to stretch properly. You will save your back. get a free ab workout. Try this: • • • Stand up and bend your arm overhead. With your arm still overhead. Don’t do this. This adds to mysterious low back pain and never targets the area you think you stretched. Feel the stretch move to your shoulder and triceps. using abs to straighten posture.The Ab RevolutionTM How to Use Abs for Stretching Your Arms People often arch their back when they stretch their arms. Bad posture: back arched. abs not in use. and get a far better stretch in the shoulder. flex your trunk as if starting a “crunch” to straighten your torso. . Keep your elbow lifted to the ceiling. 35 Same stretch. little stretch on arm.
Feel the stretch move to your thigh. abs not in use. Drop your bent knee to point to the standing knee and push your foot away into your hand. Jolie Bookspan 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. You won’t feel much stretch in your thigh. Don’t pull your foot in. Same stretch using abs to straighten posture. as if starting to do a crunch. You save your back. little stretch on leg. work abs. 36 . and get a far better quad stretch. Straighten your torso and push your behind forward.Dr. Don’t do this bad posture when stretching: back arched. Try this: • • Stand on one leg and arch your back while you hold your other foot behind you.
The Ab RevolutionTM Real Athletes Use Abs Here is good use of abs in basketball to hold the back posture straight. The white belt has not learned this yet. The black belts holding the board in the photo below. and power the block. Note how he incorrectly uses an arch to “wind-up” the punch 37 . so the force of the punch is not levered into their low back. drive the dunk. have properly changed the shape of their back by using their abs.
When you allow your back to arch. Tuck your hips under as if beginning a crunch.Dr. your body weight hangs on your low back vertebrae. you’ll instantly feel your abs in use. to straighten your torso. If you use ab machines with an arched back (top). or a simple wheel. Don’t arch or hike your behind up in the air. When you do this. Instead of an expensive machine. folding them like a hinge. your abs are not in good use and there is large strain. These machines can be used so that you use your abs. you can use two roller skates. Straightening your posture (bottom) puts abs highly in use and protects against back strain. Jolie Bookspan What About Ab Machines? Ab machines are often used in ways that don’t use the abs. One way to learn the hip tuck is to use a mirror to watch your posture in side view. Keep your head up. and is injurious to your back. This is ineffective as an ab exercise. 38 .
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. and only works the muscles that lift your leg. and never get a real ab workout by using abs to straighten their back and control this. called hip flexors. Try this: • Lie on your back with your legs out straight on the floor. not your hands. Tight hip flexors create problems. use your abs. leg lifts become an exercise that strains the back. This is a missed ab opportunity. to tilt your hips and maintain torso posture.The Ab RevolutionTM What About Leg Lifts? Most people allow the weight of their legs to arch and strain their low back. To do leg lifts properly.” That is precisely what is wrong with this as an ab exercise: you never use your own abs to keep your back from arching. To show you what arching feels like. increase the arch by lifting your ribs so that your back lifts off your hand. Hip flexors are usually pretty strong and tight to begin with from sitting and overuse in exercise. Without taking the arch out of your back with your abs. In this 39 • . Put one hand under the small of your low back and feel the natural space.
lift your legs. pinching and straining your low back. It can be injurious and does not use abs. Don’t just bend at the hip and use hip flexors with your behind stuck out. • To do this exercise correctly and fix the arching problem. doing a “reverse crunch” while hanging. you’ll feel your thighs pull up. Then. You’ll learn to use your abs to control your torso posture. Don’t let your back arch. you’ll learn to use your abs — not your hands — to change the tilt of your torso and hips. Keeping your abs in use to flatten the low back curve. lift your legs just an inch or two above the floor. You will feel your abs working. Try not to let them. You’ll protect your back and get real ab exercise. and to keep your legs straight while raising and lowering. Use The Ab Revolution to use your abs to tip your hips back under you into correct position. Keep your torso posture controlled with your abs as you lower your legs too. Chin Ups and Pulls Ups Many people stick out their behind and let their legs swing forward when doing chin ups and pull ups. You’ll feel the weight of your legs arching your back more. Jolie Bookspan arched position. not allowing it to arch. while maintaining the curled position of your torso.Dr. lift your legs just an inch or two above the floor. This will retrain your muscles to know what it feels like to use abs to control torso posture. If your hips are tight. First curl your hips under you. • With this method. Don’t let your back arch during any point of raising or lowering your legs. Hanging Leg Lifts When you do leg lifts hanging from a chinning bar. (Don’t do this if you have back pain. don’t allow your back to arch. put your legs back down and press your low back against your hand.) This is how many people do leg lifts. 40 . using your abs to flatten the arch.
Whenever you do leg lifts. Unfortunately. standing up on one leg and lifting the other leg to the back. it is often done by arching the back. It can be done lying face down and lifting legs. 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. 41 . and use only your leg. You’ll feel an immediate shift of work to your abs. That reduces leg and back muscle involvement. and can also hurt your back. and far more exercise for your back and leg.The Ab RevolutionTM Back Leg Lifts Lifting your legs to the back is an excellent exercise for your back. back. lifting one leg upward. and gluteal muscles. When lifting your leg to the back from a stand or from your knees. or from a hands-and-knees position. Leg lifts to the back contracts and strengthens back muscles. Tuck your hips under to bring your back to a good straight position. don’t let your back arch.
Captain’s Chair is like the old fashioned gymnast “stall bars” which were like a chinning bar against a climbing rack.Dr. While hanging. or “Captain’s Chair” was one of the top exercises found to produce high ab activity. • First try it wrong. Still. In a Captain’s Chair you hang in the air by your forearms on two pads on either side of you. Then they walk around all day with the same problem.) Arch your back and stick your behind out. bang. with your back against a pad and legs dangling free. They never learn to consciously use abs to control torso posture. Jolie Bookspan What About “Captain’s Chair?” In a recent survey. Imagine the forces accumulating on your low back. not allowing your back to arch. bang — all day. the hanging leg lift. Now try it right. step after step — bang. Use your abs throughout the entire exercise to maintain your hip tuck when you raise and lower your legs. Then lift your legs. the problem is that Captain’s Chair is often done in a way that prevents good use of abs. It will be fairly easy to lift your legs or knees. You lift your legs with knees bent or straight. Try this: • Hang from stall bars or a Captain’s Chair stand. When they swing their legs. The back pad makes it easier to maintain back posture without arching. without as much use of abs as they could. (Don’t do this if you have back pain. they let their back arch. People often make it easier by allowing their back to arch and using only hip flexors. • • 42 . first curl your behind under you using your abs.
The Ab RevolutionTM It’s said that a problem with Captain’s Chair is that you need equipment. 43 . You don’t need equipment — just a good friend.
Take the exaggerated arch out of your back. but use your abs to hold weight up and off your low back.) Lift your weight up and off your low back by using your abs. (Don’t do this if you have back pain. Let your upper body weight relax down until you feel your weight on your low back. • Now try this to see how to arch with good range of motion and ab involvement. and just allow their low back to fold backward under all their weight. The problem is not using muscles to keep your upper body weight off your low back. and other activities. stretching. • 44 . Arching your back. by itself. For more on back extension. gymnastics. You should feel a good ab exercise and no back pain. as if starting a crunch. Try this: • Stand up. Don’t let your abs “go” or allow your weight to slump. Try this again while bending your knees to tilt backward further. By holding your upper body weight with your abs. is not the problem in back pain and posture control. Proper back extension is one of the most important exercises for back health.Dr. Allow your back to arch. This is often confused. and some people think they must never arch their back. Jolie Bookspan Arching Isn’t the Culprit You are supposed to have a small inward curve in your low back. see pages 94 and 95. leaving a small natural curve. yoga. Many people don’t know to use their abs during these kinds of moves. curving your abdomen out in front. to hold your weight off your back: • Begin to arch your upper body back. The supported arch is important to use in tennis. It should be a good-feeling stretch. you can lean and extend back without your weight pressing onto your low back. Relax your shoulders and keep them back. Don’t crane or pinch your neck back.
Don’t hang your weight on your back. Supported Arching With Head and Handstands Use the ab-supported arch for headstands and handstands when you do them with an arch. Strongly use your abs to decelerate as you extend backward. not your back joints.The Ab RevolutionTM Supported Arching With Roman Chair Exercise As you progress. try Roman Chair ab training. Lift up to the straight position and hold without arching before repeating. There are Roman Chair seats in many gyms. Hold the weight of your legs up with your muscles. or you can make your own on a sturdy surface to hold your lower body. 45 .
pressuring it. 46 . Jolie Bookspan Don’t allow the weight of your legs to fold your low back into an angle. Also practice using abs to do these poses with a straight torso.Dr. to add to your ab workout.
Beside the poor neck posture from putting a bar across the shoulder. or during various rodeo activities. The idea is that torso muscles would get exercise decelerating the swinging weight.The Ab RevolutionTM What About Abdominal Twists? An exercise commonly done for abs is to put a bar across the shoulders and twist from side to side. swinging limbs in martial arts . not letting the rotation twist you to the end of the range your back can twist. 47 . and overstretch fibrous attachments (tendons that hold muscles on bones and ligaments that hold your bones together). this exercise can work your muscles in the manner they need to work. For activities that require body knowledge of how to decelerate a swinging pivot. This can eventually strain soft tissues. But many people do this exercise in a way that doesn’t work the abs and overtwists the back. Make sure to understand how to stop the momentum by using your ab and torso muscles. and to decelerate only with muscular effort. fray discs. such as swinging a bat or racquet. a big problem is that people stop the momentum of the weight at the end of each rotation using their vertebral joints.
one way to do that is to use cable pulleys or a stretchy tube or band and pivot away from it. Use a good. thick band. Also. Jolie Bookspan If all you want is a pivoting ab exercise to work your abs.Dr. and go for the fun of the work. rather than in real-life movements. 48 . One reason is because they used the tubing while bending forward. step away to increase tension while holding good posture. 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. most people do not put much resistance on their 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.
The Ab RevolutionTM
What About Lower Abs and Reverse Crunches?
There’s 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
Dr. Jolie Bookspan
crunch. Don’t 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.
The Ab RevolutionTM
Don’t 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. Don’t 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. It’s 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 you’ll use your lower abs in an all-day “reverse crunch.” Fixing Posture Using Upper Abs and Lower Abs So, there’s 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. It’s a shame that they have become mistaken for an attractive stance. They’re not. Whenever you notice your back aching when you’re standing around, notice if you’re 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. Don’t 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. Don’t lean forward. Correct and straighten your posture, and you’ll burn more calories, stand taller, and get free, all-day exercise for both your upper and lower abs.
but not rigidly.” “therapy ball. they are just another device that does little. and reinforces the same poor habits as other exercises. It’s how you use it. Jolie Bookspan What About Exercise Balls? The exercise ball is a large. expensive desk chairs are marketed with the ball as the sitting surface. Don’t arch or round your back. and daily life. chair or bench. 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.” “balance ball. 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. sturdy.” Incrediball. Sit up.” “physio-roll. Keep 52 .Dr. There are claims that the ball makes you sit properly or that you use more muscular effort to sit on it. with various moves that strengthen arms and legs. But this does not happen automatically. Used without understanding. But you can sit on the ball with as poor posture and little effort as on most other surfaces.” and any number of trade names. exercise balls can be great. Begin to walk your feet away and lie back until you’re lying as flat and straight as you can. It is also called “Swiss Ball.” “rehab ball. too. sports. This is easily avoided by using your muscles deliberately to control posture. Because the surface of the ball is not flat and rolls under you. 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. light-weight inflated ball that you can use in a large and inventive number of ways. All the exercises here work your entire torso and back. Try these: • Sit on the ball with good posture. Based on that. and use more body skills and muscles than doing the same exercise on a floor.” “gym ball. you use balance and stabilization muscles so that you don’t fall off. Used properly.
Keep the side of your feet on the floor. Lift one leg up straight and hold. Hold. Lift your hips from the floor. roll on the ball to lie on your side. and progress to being able to push up from the ball. and the ball close to your hip.The Ab RevolutionTM your back and neck straight. Switch sides and repeat. biceps by ears. Roll to the other side without using your arms and repeat. Keep the same good posture as for proper standing. Hold as long as you can. This works the back also. You can start with your knees on the floor and then straighten your legs. Repeat. 53 • • • • . Keep the ball under your behind. As you advance. Lift up one leg and hold as long as you can. Switch legs. Advanced? Hold a weight in your hands. To progress. Very advanced? Lift both legs at once. with the ball under your ankles. This works the back also. Hold as long as you can. legs straight. Put both hands on the top surface of the ball and push up into a pushup position. • Without using your arms. do pushups while holding proper posture. Roll onto your back without using arms. Try lifting one leg at a time. not arched or bent forward. or with your arms already straight. Try side curls if you like. Step your feet away until the ball cradles your head and neck. Then lift one leg from the ball. Switch legs. Roll onto your chest without using arms. Keep good posture without letting your back arch or your behind hike into the air. not your back. roll to one side and do one arm at a time. Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet on the ball. lift both arms over your head. Lift your hips from the floor. Hold. Hold straight posture as long as you can. lifting upward without hunching to the front. Lie on your back on the floor. Keep straight torso posture without sagging or arching. For more.
Good straight posture with abs in use to hold weight off the back. Practice until you can hold the ball at your ankles.Dr. Keep good posture without letting your back arch or your behind hike up. 54 . and strain on the back. abs not in good use. rolling the ball down your body to your legs. Jolie Bookspan • Lie face down on the ball with both hands on the floor. Lift one leg off the ball. Keep good posture without letting your back arch or hike up in the air. do pushups in this position. • Bad posture with back arched. Hold as long as you can. Hold the pushup position as above. As you progress. Do pushups. Hold as long as you can. Switch legs. walk on your hands.
The Ab RevolutionTM
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. Don’t 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.
Dr. Jolie Bookspan
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 it’s still the same bad hunched-over posture you don’t 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 wouldn’t 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.
The Ab RevolutionTM
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.
V. used in physical therapy to passively contract muscles atrophied from paralysis or wasting diseases. These have been around for a long time. In two hours sitting in front of the television wearing the device. you would burn more calories than during the theoretical 15–30 minutes it would take to do the sit-ups. They made claims comparing the relative number of calories burned in a longer time frame to a shorter one. That’s just your normal metabolism at work. with or without a vibrator strapped to your abdomen. Jolie Bookspan What About Electronic Ab Zapper Belts? “Watch T. but not enough to produce the results claimed. 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.Dr. There is muscle contraction. Other devices stems from electrical muscle stimulators (EMS). 58 .
Just don’t pay money for that. bike. When you exercise. everyone burns fat when they’re asleep — when they’re awake. 59 . too. and keep you happier and healthier in the long run. They do not selectively find your fat cells and eliminate them. because a nice run. Some products claim to give a workout so intense that you burn fat for hours after you finish. no matter what device you use or what potion you drink. skating. Metabolizing stored fat is part of your round-the-clock energy production for body functions. It slows when you stop exercising. A good workout of dancing. Other products are pills tantalizingly called “fat burners. playing. to inability to exercise safely in the heat.” First. will burn more calories. but takes a while to return to resting value. you increase your metabolism to meet your energy needs. biking. They could just as honestly claim that if you stare at their special green dot that you will burn calories in your sleep. and heart trouble. But don’t pay money for that because you burn fat 24 hours a day anyway as part of being alive. whether you drink miracle potion or not. or other fun ways to move around will “pick you up” more effectively and safely than taking stimulants.The Ab RevolutionTM What About Miracle Liquids and Fat Burners? Many products on the market claim to make you burn fat while you sleep. from nervousness and grouchiness. Any product can truthfully claim to produce increased calorie burning after a workout. or swim will do the same. These stimulants can have harmful effects. The pills called “fat burners” are mostly stimulants.
It has nothing to do with toning or supporting the muscles. or body fat loss.Dr. Jolie Bookspan What About Neoprene Waist Bands? A fairly popular product advertised to easily take off inches is sometimes billed as a secret scuba device. The band temporarily shrinks your circumference through simple compression.” “flab zapper. Ever notice when you take off your socks that there’s a darkened dent around your leg where the sock band was? The elastic compressed your flesh. leaving you temporarily smaller. sweat loss. weight loss. It is just a gimmick. 60 .” It is just a neoprene band to wear around the waist (or thighs). You return to normal circumference fairly quickly.” and “waist shrinker. and other times called various intriguing names like “waist support.
Gradually increase the time you hold good posture with these exercises. not bending forward. run. Most people can’t do these exercises for more than a few seconds. They don’t 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. 61 . More important than how many repetitions you do is understanding the concept. do exercise. then breathe out during the effort of the movement. back pain prevention. or your life. You’ll learn exercises that work your abs in functional ways for postural control when you sit. and go out and have fun. walk. You need to exercise your abs the way they normally should work. carry packages. 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. stand. The concepts and exercises follow in the next sections. activities. and good looks? The ab exercises you see everywhere in gyms get you good at hunching forward. what else can you do to train good ab use for posture. Doing repetitions and sets without that will not work your abs the way you need.The Ab RevolutionTM What Exercises Work Your Abs the Way You Need For Real Life? Beside standing and reaching properly all day every day. But your abs need to work isometrically (at one length without moving) a great deal of the time in real life. That means radically different exercises from what you commonly see in gyms and on exercise videos. Breathe normally and fully when doing the isometric exercises. your back. For the moving exercises. and won’t help your posture. breathe in. don’t hold your breath.
When going slowly with weights don’t squeeze your joints or push them past their range. 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. 62 . use muscular control to avoid injury. don’t bang your joints around. As they strengthen they can do more repetitions. Or Fewer Harder Ones? Regularly lifting a weight that is so heavy that you can only lift it a few times builds your strength. For many people. It will not make you able to do fast movements needed for real life activities like throwing. or anything where you need your strength in a fast move. How Fast or Slow? Working your muscles slowly gets them good at slow movement. Lifting a lighter weight for a long time builds your endurance. punching. Start doing as many of each as you properly can. You need both for carrying things. When To Do Ab Revolution Exercises? Use these back-saving. When going quickly. That is good for carrying things and pushing cars (if you also trained to be strong enough). and when doing exercise. going about your normal day. arch-preventing. achy back. Practice your exercises both quickly and slowly to maximize your real life abilities. building both strength and endurance. for example pushups. their own body weight is so heavy relative to their ability that it provides enough resistance to build strength. How Often? How Many of Each Exercise Should You Do? Depends how many you can already do. for doing your activities. catching falling objects or children. and just getting through the day with good posture and without a tired.Dr. Work up to more. Many Easier Ones. then gradually add external weight. Jolie Bookspan How Many. core posture exercises all the time when you are standing up.
including the important weak link. Holding the Pushup Position • Hold the pushup position as long as you can. • Don’t lock your elbows straight. and to train them to prevent your back from arching under gravity resistance. This is a missed opportunity to strengthen your core and is hard on your back.” Take the arch out of your back and straighten your torso. then you need to strengthen them too — not ruin your elbow joints. not your “core” muscles. Be straight as a plank. Using The Ab Revolution. the pushup is a prize exercise for most of your body.The Ab RevolutionTM Using Abs to Control Torso Posture for Normal Standing Purpose of this Exercise: To work your abs. Don’t droop down. don’t just mash your wrists. straight posture you need for standing up. To protect your back during the exercise and make the exercise more effective and more targeted to the abs. Keep your weight on your whole hand. or hike your hips up in the air. Hold your head up. keep them slightly bent. Application to Daily Life: Learn and practice the easy. Don’t let your back arch during any part of your pushup and you can emphasize both core stability and upper and lower body strength. so that your weight rests on your vertebrae. A common mistake is letting your back arch like the back of an old horse when doing pushups. wrists and arms. Tuck your hips under and you’ll feel an immediate shift of the work to your abs and “core. If your arms are too weak to hold you. Wobbling after only a few seconds? These are the same posture muscles you need to stand up properly without 63 • . and have the ab strength and endurance to do it. arch your back.
and a higher one to work arms more. without arching. back straight and head up. You'll feel your abs work immediately. No sagging. 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. Work up to increasing the time you can hold your posture as straight you would want when standing up. stand up again and relearn the posture exercise on page 23. “How To Use Your Abs When Standing Up. • If you can’t figure how to tuck your hips under you. • • • Hold the pushup position and lift one leg in back and the opposite arm straight out in front. 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. Vary your hand positioning. Keep your whole body straight as a 64 . Hold the pushup position on your elbows. Keep hips tucked. Jolie Bookspan sagging.Dr. Use a lower ledge to work abs more.” Tuck your hip to hold your back straight.
The Ab RevolutionTM plank. Weight bearing improves bone density and strength. • Do full pushups using your abs to keep your hips tucked as if starting a crunch. First from left is holding hips slightly bent and hiked in the air. Stay flat throughout. and other lifts too. 65 . two more benefits of Ab Revolution exercises. Try curls. Don’t let your upper body lift up before your lower body. Second and third are flatter and straighter. The wrist is one of the three major risk sites of osteoporosis. 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. don’t let your middle sag.
Jolie Bookspan • Rise from the floor in a reverse pushup. and repeat. Add a weight to your back during pushups. Keep hips tucked and prevent any arching with your abs. Do full pushups with your feet up on a bench or wall. Have a friend sit on your back when you do pushups – carefully. • • Adding extra weight means using more ab and other core muscles 66 . 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. Lower to the floor holding your body just as straight. Lie flat with hands on the floor. and elbows bent at your sides. Increased resistance increases your strength and adds a posture challenge. Don’t arch or hike up your behind. Maintain the same posture you would want if you were standing up. Don’t let your posture sag. not even a little.Dr.
try these fun and effective variations: • Walk around in the pushup position like a flat spider. and leg muscles hard. while getting an effective. Jump to the next piece of exercise equipment. See if you can jump 90 degrees (or more) with each jump to face each direction. try this move. 67 . Walk sideways. Maintain the same posture you would want if you were standing up. sometimes called “The Flag. Walk quickly and slowly. backward. Stay straight.The Ab RevolutionTM to keep posture good and your back protected. More Challenge Moves • As you advance. and around.” Experiment with various leg placement. Use good shock absorption with arms and legs. and posture control. Walking and Jumping Pushups To challenge your strength. Have fun. • “Spiders” work torso. Jump to say hello to someone. Don’t allow your back to arch under the momentum of landing. Tuck your hips under as if starting a crunch to keep your back straight. hard workout. arm. Jump sideways across the room. forward. Jump in the pushup position like a flat jumping spider. They are effective and safe if you protect your back with good posture and shock absorption. balance.
Do both sides. or even just when standing up. Holding Side Pushup Position • Hold the pushup position and turn to one side. and to train them to hold your posture correctly against resistance.Dr. Lift one arm and balance on the other arm. Save your elbow joint and get an arm workout. Many people let their bodies slump to the side. don’t lock it. 68 . holding your body straight without drooping in the middle. Keep your elbow slightly bent. or hike their shoulder or hip up when carrying things on one shoulder or hip. Application to Daily Life: Learn to prevent your torso from slouching to the side when standing. Learn to use your oblique abs to prevent this. and have the strength and endurance to maintain it. Keep your weight on your whole hand so you don’t mash your wrist. Jolie Bookspan Using Oblique Abs to Control Torso Posture Purpose of this Exercise: To work your oblique abs.
• Hold the regular pushup position face down.The Ab RevolutionTM Progressions for Holding Position • Prop on one elbow. with both arms on the floor. raise the opposite leg too. Keep straight pushup position. with your bicep by your ear. To progress. lift one arm behind your back. or up against the wall. Don’t rotate your body. hold your arm straight in front of you. To progress. 69 . Without turning your body. Progress to putting your feet up on a ledge or bench.
not turned or arched. not drooping down. maintaining straight torso posture. as if swinging it over a bicycle. Switch arms. do the same sip. Jolie Bookspan • In the side position. then try continuously switching. Hold as long as you can and switch legs. Hold your weight up using abs when lowering. Next. holding your top leg off the floor. Then bend the top leg at the hip and hold in front of you. Fun Challenge Moves • Hold a regular face-down pushup position. Lift one leg 90 degrees to the side and forward. don’t drop on the floor. Keep your leg straight and parallel to the floor. Keep your body flat. Then try pushups this way. while holding one leg straight out to the side 70 . raise your top leg and hold as long as you can. • Hold the side arm position and dip your hip almost to the floor and raise back up as many times as you can.Dr. Moving in the Side Arm Position • Raise and lower your top leg from the floor as many times as you can.
add lifting the opposite arm.The Ab RevolutionTM • When you can hold your leg out straight to the side. try this. 71 . sometimes called “The Flag.” Experiment with leg placement. • As you advance.
Application to Daily Life: Learn and practice holding your back in good posture during overhead movement and exercise. but can teach you how to forget your torso muscles in ways that can lead to back and even shoulder injury. You’ll feel your abs working right under your skin. Jolie Bookspan Using Abs to Control Torso Posture When Using Weights Purpose of this Exercise: To work your abs. Now put both hands overhead. improve shoulder range of motion. Don’t lift your hips. since ab muscles are shallow. press your back down against your hand. When you lift weights with your arms. • • 72 .Dr. just isolating your arms is not only not functional. and use abs. just an inch off the floor. Put your hand on the floor under the arch of your back. • To feel how to use abs to reduce the arch and control your torso. biceps by your ear. just use your abs. Contract your abs to hold your torso straight without allowing your back to arch from the floor. as the lever when reaching overhead. Put your other arm overhead just off the floor. Arch your back up. lifting your ribs high so you know what it feels like. and to use them to hold correct posture against overhead resistance. Did your back arch off your hand again? Press it back down. To learn when you’re substituting arching your back for motion of the shoulder. biceps near your ears. not shoulder or low back. Using Body Weight • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. This is called functional exercise. You need to exercise using the same movements and muscle patterns as you use in real life.
or allow yourself to arch and let the weight drop on the joints of your back. your back will want to arch. Don’t let it. This simulates all the daily life activities where you will either support your body and things you carry with your muscles. particularly when lowering the weights. Keep your elbows slightly bent. • Each time the weight lowers. Moving With Hand Weights • Raise and lower the dumbbells about an inch. Holding the weights also works your arms and latissimus dorsi muscles along the sides of your back. 73 . Your abdominal muscles work hard on this one to control your posture against the moving weight. You get several exercises for the price of one. Don’t let your ribs come up or your back arch. about an inch from the floor. holding light dumbbells (5 to 10 pounds each) in each hand overhead. Use abs to hold your back in position without arching.The Ab RevolutionTM 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. 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. • Lie on your back. and work your body the way you need for real life movement.
an arched back just to stand up straight. You can’t walk or move properly in real life with your knees and hips bent that much. ironically. and retrain your muscles to hold your body properly. What they need is to stretch the front of their hip so their hip and legs can extend properly. When you do standing weight lifting. then exercise that way too. Carry-Over to Real Life Think of all the exercises that involve lifting weights overhead — exercises where you should stand without arching. But Shouldn’t You Keep Knees Bent? It’s 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. and how to retrain everything for safe. 74 . but not a large arch. control your posture with what you learned from this lying-down training exercise. There will be a small space under your low back. The Ab Revolution teaches you to understand how your muscles need to move. You would never learn to use your muscles the way you really need them when standing up. which feeds a negative cycle of tight hip. Jolie Bookspan To Progress • Extend your legs out straight. This is where you stretch. as you have practiced in this exercise above. Yet many people do keep their hip bent all the time when standing. but don’t.Dr. and. pain. effective movement all the time. • 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. Their hips get so tight that they even need a pillow under their knees to sleep. If you allow your back to arch. But it is your own muscles that should do that for you. the force of the moving weight comes crashing down on your low back. how your posture needs to be. Many people have hips so tight that they can’t straighten their legs without their back being pulled into a large arch. strengthen. Keep your abs contracted so that your back does not pull into an arch. bent hip.
The Ab RevolutionTM Use your own muscles. not just bending your knees to control your posture. 75 . If you use your abs for posture adjustment during all your standing movements. but all day when you really need it — standing up. this exercise will not only work your abs for the moment.
lifting heavy packages onto counters. 76 . and correct your posture.Dr. Transfer these skills to keeping healthy torso posture for common activities like lifting trays. but not curling forward or bending your neck. lifting babies and children overhead. Using Hand Weights and Packages • Lift weights overhead. as if beginning a crunch. Keep your torso from increasing the arch. putting away groceries. • Reach overhead again. Keep your abs in use as if you were beginning a crunch. no matter what. Wave your arms around. because of that. Using Body Weight • Stand up and reach overhead with both hands. putting cargo on car roof racks. Keep your abs in use to prevent arching. and even combing and washing hair. and to train them to hold your back posture against resistance. Did your ribs come up and your back arch?Tuck your hip under you to prevent over-arching. Keep your hip tucked under you. allow their upper body weight to pressure their low back many times a day: reaching. Application to Daily Life: To train your abs and brain to hold your torso and back posture during movement and exercise. and whenever you lift and reach. when reaching and lifting overhead. putting things on shelves. but not curling forward or bending your neck. Not in an exaggerated way. This is when many people have no concept of abs and. but just until your body is straight and supported. pulling shirts off. Jolie Bookspan Using Abs to Control Torso Posture for Reaching and Lifting Overhead Purpose of this Exercise: To work your abs.
Same lift with abs in use to straighten posture and protect the back. Abs not in use for lifting. 77 .The Ab RevolutionTM All are arched in bad posture.
Bad posture. Jolie Bookspan Using Bands or Cable Pulleys • Use cable pulleys or tie the middle of a stretchy band or tube securely at head height or above. controlling your posture with abs. This is also fun to do with a partner. Turn your back. abs not in use. Same exercise with abs in use to straighten posture and exercise against the pull of the bands 78 . • Try various arm exercises and movements while controlling your torso with your abs. Step away until there is tension on the band.Dr. Lift arms overhead. back arched. Don’t let your arms pull behind you. Hold one end in each hand. This simulates keeping your posture against gravity and loads that you carry in daily life.
facing sideways to the band. Application to Daily Life: Holding your torso and back posture correctly to avoid strain and slouching to the side when reaching and lifting overhead.The Ab RevolutionTM 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. pulleys — or even a pair of panty hose. Maintain good posture. hold both arms overhead with your biceps against your ears. Hold your torso stable against the sideways pull of the stretchy cord. to get started — secured at about shoulder height. use your abs to move your body to the side. Use a hula-hoop. Walk around keeping your torso stable against the changing pull of the band. Hold both ends and turn sideways. and do side curls. and holding the band in front of your chest. • Many Variations • Do side curls. tubing. 79 . and to train them to hold your back posture against resistance. Don’t pull your arms to the sides. • • • To progress. Using Bands and Pulleys • Use a stretchy band. Don’t let the band pull you into poor posture. Feel how to stabilize your body using your oblique abs. Try it with and without bands. • • Move away until there is more tension on the band.
80 . Try the action of doing crunches standing up to get the idea of initiating arm action with your abs first. Use abs to power overhead activities and to protect your shoulder and 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. and to train them to hold your back posture against rapid onset resistance. by not contracting your abs first and using your torso to power the move. Application to Daily Life: Train torso and back posture during speed and power movement. for example. Jolie Bookspan Using Abs for Throwing and Other Overhead Arm Activities Purpose of this Exercise: To work your abs. you can overload your shoulder or elbow. In baseball pitches and tennis serves. Don’t allow your arms to move or your neck to come forward.Dr. Injury can eventually develop. Turn your back. or cable pulleys. one in each hand. The fulcrum of the swing becomes the shoulder joint instead of the muscles of the abs and hip. When throwing and punching properly. Pivot your body from your abs. Hold both ends. • • Move away to put more tension on the band and still stand up straight. and the arched posture drops much weight on the low back. and when throwing and moving arms overhead. But many people just arch their back and fling their arm. your torso and legs should power most of it. Feel how to stabilize your body and stand straight using your abs. Using Bands or Cables • Use a stretchy band or rubber tubing with the middle secured at about shoulder height.
Only then does the arm come forward. Abs in use to properly change back posture and power the throw. 81 . not just your shoulder. abs not in use.The Ab RevolutionTM • Simulate throwing a ball with one arm. and contract your abs so that your torso curls. Feel the pivot coming from your abs. turn your hip. Push off your feet. and body. back arched. Bad posture.
Hold both ends if you’re using bands. All the common arm exercises with dumbbells and pulleys can be retrained to use your abs first. and then initiate action with your arm. Not using your abs for arm tasks is a common contributor to shoulder pain. and to train them to hold your back posture against moving resistance. Push off your feet. Practice moving your arms for common activities. keeping your torso straight as a unit. Keep your knees bent and turn from your hips. and turn sideways. not twisting from your waist. Application to Daily Life: Learn to keep your torso and back posture correct during movement and exercise. Turn your hip. rubber tubing. Bend your knees. throw side pitches. you overload your shoulder. or cable pulleys secured at about waist height. When you use your arms to exercise on pulley machines. retraining yourself to use abs first. stabilize the shoulder.Dr. Jolie Bookspan Using Abs for Side and Underhand Arm Activities Purpose of this Exercise: To work your abs (front and oblique). Try the motion of combing your hair (or washing your head. Turning Moves • Use a stretchy band. Reaching over the car seat for heavy items in the back seat frequently adds to rotator cuff injury. when reaching and lifting to the side. By not contracting your abs first and using your torso to power the move. Swivel your body away from the resistance. Contract your abs. This doesn’t happen just when swinging a tennis racquet. or in a high brace in kayaking. Turning at Varied Angles • Hold the band at a strong tension and face various angles toward and away from the band. or pull or push things — from laundry to dogs on a leash — use your abs. if 82 .
and anything else you need for daily life. underhand and side pitches. Moving Stabilization Drills • Have a friend hold the other end of the band and pull you in odd directions while you practice torso stabilization. brushing teeth. This simulates walking a dog.The Ab RevolutionTM you’re bald). or carrying packages and a squirming baby while trying to get in the door. writing on the board. hanging up clothes. 83 .
without bending your elbow. You’ll feel pressure. maybe a familiar ache in your low back. Don’t hit the wall. • Push the wall with your fist. Push increasingly hard. That puts your chin closer for your opponent hit it. because their main core muscles are not driving the punching arm or leg. Allow the push of your arm to arch your back. Kickboxing classes are popular. Stretch your arm forward in punching position. 84 • • . Application to Daily Life: To keep your torso and back posture correct and safe during punching in martial arts and boxing exercise classes. Training Abs for Punching • Stand near a wall. as if beginning a crunch but not curling your neck forward. Maintain your slightly tucked posture. Keep hips tucked under. Jolie Bookspan Using Abs for Punching Purpose of this Exercise: To work your abs (front and oblique) against quickly-moving resistance.) Fix your posture with your abs. and a new strength in your punching arm. In many video tapes. You should feel the back pain disappear. The fulcrum of the punch becomes the low back bones instead of the muscles of the abs and hip. Don’t allow your back to arch at any point. Don’t hunch forward. just rest your knuckles as if you had just hit the wall. you hear much mention of “core” and “ab stabilization. (Don’t do this if you have back pain. with your body in a slight curl. It is also a sure sign that they cannot generate punching force. Practice your punch with the new supported posture.Dr.” but when you watch them you see the arched postures that injure backs.
and keep the contraction coming from your abs to push your torso and arm forward. 85 . they’d hurt their backs and not get much of a punch.The Ab RevolutionTM • • 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. turn your hips. Don’t arch your back In both the puncher and receiver above. Push off your feet. exhale. If real fighters punched with this arched posture. the arched torsos transmit force to the low back.
lever your arm forward into a powerful punch. or back-to-back with a partner holding bands looped around yours. Jolie Bookspan Train Abs for Punching Using Bands • Use a stretchy band. This can be done looping your band around something behind you. Keep your arms in front of you. with the middle secured around anything solid at shoulder height or above. Turn your back. turn your hip into the punch and then. Don’t let the cord pull you into an arch or pull your arms behind you. or cable pulleys. Contract abs first. Push off your feet and legs. Feel how to stabilize your body using your abs. still holding both ends of the cord. Increase tension on the band and still stand up straight. using your abdomen as the fulcrum. Breathe out.Dr. Keep your heels down when you punch. rubber tubing. • • • • • 86 .
and breathe out as you lever your upper body forward in powerful pushing action. maybe the familiar ache in your low back. You will save your back and generate more pushing force. oblique. 87 . Allow the push of your arm to arch your back.) Fix your posture with your abs. You should feel the back pain disappear and a new strength. Breathe in. (Don’t do this if you have back pain. press off your feet. use your hips and abdomen as the fulcrum. without bending your elbows. as if beginning a crunch but not bending your neck. and transversus) against heavy resistance. You’ll feel pressure. Let your back arch. powerful moves. • Stand with both hands against a wall. safe torso and back posture during pushing and slow. Begin pushing the wall with your hands. Push increasingly hard. Keep your hip tucked under you. tuck your hips. so your body is in a slight curl. Application to Daily Life: Good.The Ab RevolutionTM Using Abs For Pushing Purpose of this Exercise: To work all of your abs (front. • • Use the Ab Revolution principles when pushing heavy objects.
Dr. You should feel the back pain disappear and a new strength in your kicking leg. You’ll feel pressure. Maintain your slightly tucked-under posture. That is bad for your back and puts your chin closer to your opponent to hit you. maybe a familiar ache in your low back from daily bad posture habits. Application to Daily Life: Correct and safe torso and back posture during kicking and leg movement. Keep your hip tucked under. The fulcrum of the kick becomes the low back joints instead of the muscles of the abdomen and hip. With the new supported posture. • Let your back arch. practice kicking toward the wall and back to ready position. (Don’t do this if you have back pain. The same problems occur in exercise and martial arts classes during kicking as with punching and pushing. Put the bottom of your foot against the wall as if you just kicked it. so that your body is in a slight curl.) Fix your posture by using your abs as if beginning a crunch. Jolie Bookspan Using Abs for Kicking Purpose of this Exercise: To work all of your abs against quickly-moving resistance. as described in the previous sections. People allow their back to arch and they just swing their leg around. Begin pushing the wall with your foot without allowing your knee to give way. but not bending your neck forward. Don’t allow your back to arch at any point in your kick. when using your legs. Train Abs for Kicking Using Body Weight • Stand facing a wall at a distance to swing a front kick. Don’t hunch forward or round your upper back. • • 88 .
The Ab RevolutionTM • Try the same technique for a side kick. or cable pulleys secured around anything solid at about hip height or below. to soccer. Contract your abs first. to swimming. breathe out. Step away to put tension on the band. To train front kicks. Don’t let it pull your back into an arch. 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. Stand sideways to a wall at a distance to swing a side kick. rubber tubing. 89 . Put the bottom of your foot against the wall as if you had just kicked it sideways. • • Train Abs for Side Kicking Using Bands • Turn to the side against the resistance of the band. from martial arts. Keep your standing heel down when you kick. Use this technique for kicks used in many sports. Feel the difference between letting your back arch. Push off your standing leg. • Use a stretchy band. Using your abdomen as the fulcrum. or back to back with a partner holding bands looped around yours. Feel how to stabilize your body using abs to stand up straight. Do not curl your upper body forward. and tucking enough to straighten your back without rounding it. as you lever your leg forward into a powerful kick. Train Abs for Front Kicking Using Bands These exercises can be done looping your band around something behind you. secure one end of the band or tubing handle around one leg and turn your back to the resistance of the band.
and maybe the old familiar ache in your low back. and allowing your back to arch. If you lean forward against the weight of the bag. Stand sideways to see your profile in a mirror. 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. 90 . You’ll feel pressure. not using your torso muscles to counter the pull. • Remember to do this all the time with everything you carry. they allow their body to sag under the weight of things they carry. or allowing your back to arch. Your bags can become a free. (Don’t allow this to happen if you have back pain. Try this: • Stand up wearing any heavy bag or backpack. You should feel the back pain disappear. Not only do people let their posture slouch under their own body weight. you’ll notice that you arch your back under the weight of the bag.) If you arch. Maintain upright posture. Shoulder bags and backpacks don’t make you arch your back or have bad posture. built-in ab exercise. not hunched. If you stand without using your abs. fix your posture by tucking your hips under as if starting a crunch. Feel your torso straighten against the pull of the bag. is the problem. People go to a gym to strap a weight machine onto their back to pull it forward to work their muscles. Application to Daily Life: To keep your torso and back posture correct when carrying common daily objects. but not bending your neck or body so much that you hunch or round forward. Jolie Bookspan Using Backpacks.Dr. stand straight up and feel your abs working.
Practice walking around with the knapsack and maintaining your upright posture. Application to Daily Life: To keep your torso and back posture correct when carrying common daily objects on one hip or shoulder. Use packages. You could burn calories. simply by holding good posture against the pull of your bags — no matter where you wear them. Even if you don’t have scoliosis. and bags as a free workout for your oblique abs and back. or hiking your shoulder up. not bent in any direction against the pull of the bag. an abnormal sideways curve.The Ab RevolutionTM Using Backpacks. save your back. holding a baby. instead of simply holding good posture by using your muscles. and Bags as Oblique Ab Exercise Purpose of this Exercise: To work your oblique abs. This is preventable. Try this while wearing a knapsack. with everything you carry. Babies. knapsacks. People go to a gym to press sideways against a weight machine to work their obliques. Check your posture with a mirror. 91 . when you can. or carrying a heavy handbag on one shoulder or hip: • Experiment with the difference between maintaining proper posture to hold the weight. • • Remember to do this all the time. and get an ab and back workout. and letting your torso sway to the side under the weight. and to train them to hold your posture when carrying weight. you can get a curve just like it from bad posture. you can eventually tighten your back and even deform your bones into a curve. babies. Fix your posture by engaging your oblique abs to straighten your torso against the pull of the bag. If you habitually let your back curve to the side under the weight of things you carry.
92 . Also trains muscles to fight an attacker off. to train them to hold your back in proper position when doing vigorous movement. and a hard and effective one. But it’s not a functional exercise because what else is it good for? This exercise beats it in effectiveness.” mentioned on page 15. lists the bicycle as the top exercise for the front abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis). This is a silly and fun exercise. It uses motions similar to those for “bicycling” but works muscles far more.Dr. The “Ab Study. functionality. and sheer fun. and to have a hilarious time doing it. and second most effective for your side abs. calorie burning. Application to Daily Life: This exercise is directly useful to control torso posture when moving your arms and legs during any extreme activity. or obliques. Jolie Bookspan Using Abs to Throw a Tantrum Purpose of this Exercise: To work all of your abs more than you ever have.
back and forth in all directions. Kick hard. Fitness classes love this one. and also work the difficult-to-target posterior shoulder. No wonder children use this. hip. Lift arms. Remember that when you work your abs. buttock. You’ll have had the workout of your life. and hamstring muscles get amazing exercise. and kick hard. Vigorously pound your fists and legs up and down against the floor and up in the air. Don’t wrench yourself around. Lift your arms and legs up in the air. back and forth. and legs in the air. you should work your back. Lift your arms high and back down.The Ab RevolutionTM • Lie on your back. in all directions. Yell if you want to: “No! No! No! I won’t do crunches! I won’t! You can’t make me! I don’t want to!” Play loud music. “No! No! No! I won’t! You can’t make me do crunches! I don’t want to…!” Again. They get a fun and hard ab and back workout. • Lie on your front. Go fast and furiously.This is also useful to train for kicking and punching someone who has thrown you down. When you finish. Vigorously move them up and down. but get a workout. play loud music if it helps. upper body. Lift your knees. Yell if you want to. and leave class happy and exhausted. You’ll feel your back. if it helps. Pound the mat. 93 . you’ll be calm and happy.
and overstretches 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. your back muscles. thinking it will make their backs injury-free. Slouching forward is a poor posture that people are usually very good at. which contract your abs to round you forward. doing conventional ab exercises. Abdominal muscles and back muscles are different muscles. vertebrae. Jolie Bookspan “Ab-Only” Exercises are Not Good Many people do only abdominal muscle exercises. or attend “abonly” exercises classes. keep you from slouching forward. There are two serious problems with this. To strengthen your back you have to work your back muscles with specific exercises that contract them. and to train you to hold your posture from slouching forward. This forwardslouching posture slowly puts unhealthy pressure on back muscles.Dr. Just as your abs muscles. and spend a great portion of their day doing. Keeping your back muscles. lengthened by poor posture weakens them. 94 . and nerves that exit the vertebrae. when used. Next. Doing ab exercise does not work your back muscles. You need to add exercises that contract your back muscles — called back extension — to strengthen your back. Forward slouching slowly pressures your discs to bulge out. or any muscles. adds to the “round-shoulder” problem that contributes to back pain in the first place. 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. when used. prevents your upper body weight from slouching backward and pressuring your low back.
Work up from there. do at least ten back extensions every day and when you do ab exercise. Jolie Bookspan. move your arms from your sides to overhead. then lower back to the floor. and sells for $24. health and joint pain. Don’t force. Don’t tilt your head back. To progress.healthylearning. and full explanations of relieving back and neck pain. Slowly lift your upper body a few inches. These exercises. Gradually increase. If you aren’t used to exercising your back muscles. Lift with your muscles. Order online at www. See your doctor. you may be sore after doing these.The Ab RevolutionTM Back Extension At the minimum. Beside giving you a beautiful back for bathing suit wear. lift both legs together. If you feel muscles working. 95 . Hold and lower. If you feel pinching or electric shock pain. hands at your sides and off the floor. Keep your head in line with your body. this exercise is a mainstay of most back-strengthening and pain-reduction programs. This is not an injury. Start with one or two lifts. nutrition. Then switch legs. It has thirty-one chapters on all aspects of fitness. lift one leg off the floor. • Lie face down. Don’t force or yank.95 (US). are detailed in the new edition of the book “Health & Fitness in Plain English” also by Dr. • • For your lower back. knee straight.com. this is much-needed progress. that is right. or toll free from the publisher: 1-888-229-5745. don’t continue the exercises. To progress.
every day. allowing your upper body weight to press on your low back. Jolie Bookspan Should You Work Your Abs Every Day or Every Other Day? It’s common for people to debate fiber type and fatigue. all-day workout. You’re also missing the easiest opportunity to burn calories and get a free. like your heart beating. Using your abs is like obeying the Ten Commandments: you’re supposed to do it all the time. all the time to control your posture.Dr. Flurries of articles are written on this. and you’ll exercise your abs without working out. you wouldn’t need to go to a gym to do funny little crunches — not every day. then ignore your abs the other 23 hours a day and undo all your efforts? Stand. What is missed is that. Doing crunches or any other ab exercise. not just during your hour of worship. sit. to decide whether to exercise abs daily or intermittently. then not using abs to control your posture the rest of the day. and reach well all the time. 96 . you need your abs working all day. If you worked your abs all day. nor every few days. Why kill yourself working out. is missing the whole point of what abs are supposed to do.
and encourage arching so that you wind up standing with your abdomen curved out — just the opposite of what you wanted. you need to run. It’s not “sucking in” or “tightening”— it’s moving your torso into healthy position using Ab Revolution exercises. Aerobic exercise burns fat. 97 . dance. speed skaters would have small legs. If spot reducing worked. stick the behind out. It’s a shame that many people deliberately stand arched.The Ab RevolutionTM How Do You Flatten Your Abdomen? Use your abs to change the curve of your back. skate. run. Get out and have fun. This fat comes from where it is stored. play. No exercise selectively removes fat from a specific part. walk. dig. Weight training builds muscle. and move in general. and the repetitive act of chewing and swallowing lots of food would make your face thin. jog. That myth is called “spot reducing. to keep it from arching and curving your abdomen out. bike. Regular ab exercise alone won’t make you stand properly so that your back won’t arch and your abdomen won’t sag out. people would have thin mouths from talking. and that exercises often done in gyms tighten the hip.” Ab exercises alone will not remove fat from your abdomen. row. ski. That means to lose fat. to use your abs for daily life. skip. including fat from your abdomen. swim. which burns more calories.
giving a “washboard” or “ripple” effect. The entire package of getting results includes proper abdominal exercise. Doing good abdominal work will enlarge the muscles enough to poke through the facial bands. check if you are standing and moving in a way that is wrecking your back by not using your abs.Dr. lifting. and the weight of everything you lift and carry. You’ll burn more calories. Jolie Bookspan 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. You’ll get a free. reaching. You’ll be straighter and taller. Check if your belt or waistband tilts downward in front and up in back. You’ll exercise your brain. cutting out junk food. all-day workout. You’ll be a better exerciser. healthful meals on a regular basis. and having fun. Next time you are standing around noticing your back hurts. Use your abs to tip your hip back under you and lift your weight up and off your low back. continuous. and water in your diet to fuel good workouts. Get out of the gym and use your body for real life moving. You’ll save your back. Use the Ab Revolution to retrain your abs for ab exercise without going to a gym. It’s a revolution. Notice if you are letting your body weight. 98 . and conscious use of abs all the time. reduced fat under your skin (in order to see it all). complex carbohydrates. You won’t see ripples if body fat covers everything. smash down on your low back. showing that you may be arching your back instead of holding straight posture. balancing.
The Ab RevolutionTM 99 .
Horsham.T. built muscle. PA Dr. Jolie Bookspan More Praise for Dr.Audrey Tannenbaum. This is my stomach bible. . Medical Director. thank you for constantly discrediting the myths that are all too often forced upon us. Green Beret Lt. CA 100 . You’re my hero.. Athletic Trainer and Maccabean Games Triathlon Gold Medalist. . M..Kelly Hill. Col. . the brightest light in popular sports medicine.. M.D. . by using them properly.J. and eliminated chronic pain. SWAT Team Commander Using Dr. A. M. Tom Millington. St.C. I can develop my abs and improve my posture throughout the day. I developed my abs more in the last 3 months than in the past 3 years doing crunches.S.. . From Dr.. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital.D.C.S.Ed. Bookspan’s revolutionary yet practical advice. It’s encouraging to know that. From one professional to another. Bookspan’s expertise. Bookspan’s Ab Revolution Continued from the back cover: You’ve done it again.Joni Lawrence. cuts away the myths and falsehoods to lead the reader to understanding. Merck International Health Program Coordinator This is a book that everyone interested in good health and muscle tone should read — especially personal trainers! . C..Dr. I have lost weight. Bookspan.
or want practical advice on fitness training or musculoskeletal complaints. The book is highly recommended to read and keep as a reference source. Dr. I turn to my friend and colleague.David Hsu. M. 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. she has written an extremely interesting ‘do-ityourself’ exercise guide.gulftel.The Ab RevolutionTM Well. M.D.Ernest Campbell.com/~scubadoc/ Whenever I have a question on rehab. University of Texas Health Science Center. CHeCS Training Program. Ph. M. Department of Anesthesiology.Caroline Fife. Neurology. Freeing the ‘crunchers’ from the boredom of useless exercise programs that are quickly abandoned. I trust her for good sense and her solid background in exercise physiology. Krug Life Sciences NASA 101 ... sensible and highly effective. Houston..D. General Surgery www. . Dr. Bookspan’s 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. .D. Associate Professor. Chief Consultant. . FACS. Jolie Bookspan. Jolie Bookspan has done it again! An expert at debunking ‘scientific’ bunk. 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..D. The program is simple.
org uhms@uhms. $24. Jolie Bookspan More Books by Dr. nutrition. $40.uhms. including board exam questions 226 pages.healthylearning.uhms.uhms.org uhms@uhms. $50. Jolie Bookspan Health & Fitness in Plain English New expanded edition! 31 fun chapters on all aspects of fitness.00 ISBN 0-930406-17-6 Orders: www.org Hyperbaric Medical Review For Certified Hyperbaric Technologist (CHT) and Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurse (CHRN) 190 pages.com Diving Physiology in Plain English The book for every scuba diver 246 pages. illustrated.00 ISBN 0-930406-18-4 Orders: www.95 (US) ISBN: 1-58518-642-2 Order toll free: 888-229-5745 www.org Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine Review For Physicians Reviews the entire field.org uhms@uhms. $30.00 ISBN 0-930406-13-3 Order from the publisher Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) (301) 942-2980 www.Dr. and joint pain 371 pages. illustrated.org 102 . health.
Vision13 Photography Roman Chair and Captain’s Chair photos by Wowk Photography Author photos by Robert Troia Illustrations by Todd Sargood Some images © 2001-2002.arttoday.com Photo models for exercises are Dr. Martin Dembitzer Angela and Andrea Fleegle Elsa Leung Rhonda McJeff Stacia Mellbourne Travis Mesman Sara Rathfon Danielle Tobin 103 .The Ab RevolutionTM Credits Cover model: Paul Plevakas Front cover photo: Julia Lehman. www. Bookspan’s dedicated and hardworking students: Shelly Anthony Regina Basile Cynthia Brown Theresa Candelaria Emily Canon Louis Costa Dr.
Nepal. she has a black belt in karate and 14 fights in the ring as an amateur kickboxer. and police and military training departments. Asia. and Northern Africa. was advisor to The Discovery Channel. where the entrance exam was getting up there without a nosebleed. As a researcher. she rehabbed using her own methods. 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. A career military scientist. Harvard clinicians have called her “The St. Left paralyzed after breaking her back. After serving in the Army. Jolie Bookspan knows abs. swam to work in an underwater laboratory. She doesn’t do crunches. and most of everything else in an accident. she carried gear up and down the mountains and deserts of India. and was professor of anatomy at a college in the mountains of Mexico.About the Author Dr. neck. Jude of the Joints” in her private practice in sports medicine. .