Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Best moves for your "pooch!"

Oh my side, I'm sore.

After last night's TurboKick session, I went to take a Chizel class this morning. It's always refreshing to take a class for a change and not have to teach it. As a participant, I don't have to think, plan, or talk! Plus, I can really push myself, which is hard to do when I'm teaching group fitness because I'm constantly trying to show a variety of modifications for different participant fitness levels.

It never fails though, that the absolute #1 question I get asked as a fitness instructor is "how do I work/tone/minimize/maximize/sculpt my [insert body part here]?"

The #1 area I get asked about most is the obliques (or love handles, muffin tops).

The #2 area I get asked about most is the "pooch" or lower abdominals. So in today's post, I'd like to show you some moves for that area (I told you yesterday that I'd have some good fitness material for you and I intend to deliver!).

To demystify, there's no such thing as "upper" or "lower" abs. (Note: I admit with great shame that I didn't even realize/acknowledge this fact until I had been teaching fitness classes for a good two years! yikes!). You have rectus abdominis, internal obliques, external obliques, and transversus abdominis (not pictured in the first diagram, but it's underneath the internal obliques):

A diagram from an AFAA workshop workbook I have:

A better diagram I found on the world wide webz:

We fitness instructors sometimes "cue" that you are working the lower abs because it's easier to visualize and explain during the movement. What you are really doing is working the combination of muscles responsible for that area. In the case of the lower abs, that's the transversus abdominis and rectus abdominis.

Without further ado, here are some my favorite moves for sculpting and strengthening the "lower abs" or the "pooch" as I like to call it :)

Move #1: Standing Knee Pulls (or "Badonkadonk n' Pooch Pulls)
This one really gets the whole package working--booty, hamstrings, quads, and pooch! Standing on one leg in a lunging position, pull the opposite knee in to the chest. Keep the abs engaged at all times and stay low in the legs, making sure that front knee does not extend over the front toe. Do 12 reps on one side, then switch to the other leg.

Move#2: Plank Knee Pulls
In plank position, with butt level and hands under the sholders, pull one knee in toward the belly button and the opposite shoulder. Return to starting plank and switch, pulling the other knee in to the opposite shoulder. Do 12-16 reps.

Move #3: Bicycle
Yup, the tried n' true bike! Lying on your back, bring the opposite shoulder up to meet the opposite knee. Try to keep your elbows wide and not pull on your neck. Lead with the shoulder, not the elbow. Smoothly switch sides. Do 25 alternating reps.

Move #4: Double Leg Lower
With hands under your booty for leverage, lower the legs down together to about 45 degrees. Bring the legs back up slowly until they point straight in the air. Repeat 12x.

Move #5: Lower Hip Curls
Keeping feet straight in the air and hands under the rump for leverage, lift the pelvis off the ground. Imagine that you are putting two footprints on the sky. When done correctly, this is a teeny tiny movement. Do not let the rocking momentum lift those legs, make those abdominals do the work.

Let me know if there's any other "areas" or movements you'd like to see me demonstrate on this blog--I have a giant encyclopedia of fitness moves in my cranial library :) Off I go to do more never-ending errands. Tomorrow, I'll show you more pictures of what I've been up to lately!

QOD (Question of the Day): What's your favorite "lower" abs move?

I'll leave you with this ab "inspiration"...

The "Patches" cartoon (above) by Kelly Vivanco is ab-dorably funny! You can check out the series here. And you can also see some of Kelly's other amazing artwork here.


  1. P.S. This "photoshoot" was killer because Bubby is not the best picture taker :) I had to hold these poses for a good 15 seconds each! I think in one or two, you can see a little bit of a pained expression :)

  2. Heather, awesome suggestions! You rock!

  3. I just saw that you teach kickboxing. I love kickboxing and take it every week with the best instructor ever. She always changes the routines and adds intervals and plyometrics to keep us working hard. I agree that I don't like round 41 as much as the others. We have been doing I think 41 or maybe it's 40 for about a month now, ready for a new routine.

  4. those look like great workouts, I will have to try some!