I have to say, this is one of THE strangest abdominal exercises you'll ever see...but also one of THE most effective!
You're not going to be doing any crunching or twisting or squeezing. There are no machines involved...no need to even focus on contracting the core muscles.
Because once you start doing this exercise, your body will have NO CHOICE but to fire the abs HARD in order to do it!
For this exercise, all you need is a pair of dumbells and a floor. That's it!
The dumbells should be a moderate weight - something you'd use for sets of 5 reps on dumbell curls, perhaps. In the demo, I'm using 65 lb dumbells and those were a good weight for me.
This exercise is going to teach you what core strength and stability are REALLY all about! First, I'm going to explain how to do it, then I'll give you the full rundown on why it's so good.
How To Do It:
You'll need some open floor space for this exercise - preferably where you have about 10 to 15 feet of unobstructed space to move. Set the dumbells on the floor then get down in what looks like the top of a close-grip push-up position. Your hands will be on the handles of the dumbells and you'll be up on your toes (not kneeling). Try to visualize the "start" position that sprinters are in when they're about to take off out of the blocks - THIS is what the position looks like.
Now you're going to CRAWL forward in that position...move the LEFT dumbell forward a few inches and step your RIGHT foot forward a few inches.
It's definitely easier to "get" this one when you see it done on video (which, of course, I'll be posting a link to at the end of the article).
Basically, you're going to be crawling on the floor with your hands weighted by the dumbells. Crawl forward about 10 feet like this then stop and crawl BACKWARDS.
Sound easy? Think again...
Why This Exercise Is So Effective:
Dumbell crawling is a VERY effective core exercise because of the uneven tension you get through your core with every step forward you take.
Think of it this way...when you're lifting up your left hand (with the dumbell) and the right foot, what is supporting your body? The support is coming from your OTHER hand and foot. Your core is, in an instant, going from 4-point support to 2-point support and all the tension is going diagonally through your core. It doesn't seem like much when you're crawling without weight, but add a dumbell to the mix? You'll be singing a different tune...
In addition, while crawling, you're also supporting your bodyweight in a pike position, working the entire abdominal area isometrically (which means without movement - just acting to stabilize and brace your body position). It's a two-pronged attack on your core that will pay off BIG.
One of the great things about this exercise is that the strength you develop is EXTREMELY functional. Forget standing on a BOSU ball on one leg and catching a beanbag...THIS exercise will build functional power through the core.
The diagonal tension of crawling exactly mimics the natural diagonal tension that goes through the core when walking, running and jumping. Think of it as "force transfer" strength, meaning you'll be better able to transfer force through your core when moving (i.e. running, jumping, etc.).
Increasing strength in this very targeted way will have an IMMEDIATE and powerful carryover to sports performance.
And when you start moving BACKWARDS...you'll be in for a shock! It's actually quite a bit tougher moving backwards. The co-ordination can be a bit tricky but with practice, you should do fine.
When you're doing this exercise, start with a light to moderate weight but don't be afraid to increase the weight here. You may not feel it so much in the abs until you move up in weight. THAT is where the real benefits of the exercise will be felt.
If core strength and performance are important goals in your training, DEFINITELY give this exercise a try. As strange as it may look, it's actually EXTREMELY effective for working the core. In a nutshell, it's going to TRASH your abs!
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