When training the abdominal muscle group, it is important that you focus on all three sections, the upper abs, the lower abs, and the obliques, in order to avoid any muscular deficiencies. But not everyone has the same ability when it comes to exercising. Obese individuals often have problems using some machines or into certain positions due to their larger size. This is not an excuse not to train. It simply means that alternative exercises may have to be used to accommodate their needs.
Crunches and the Upper Abs
Performing standard crunches may be OK for obese individuals to perform. But if not, some minor adjustments to the standard crunch can make the exercise more accommodating. Start by lying on the ground face-up, with your knees bent and feet 12 inches from your buttocks. Cross your arms across your chest so your elbows point forward. Slowly lift your shoulders 4 to 6 inches from the ground by contracting your abdominal muscles. Briefly pause before slowly lowering your shoulders back to the ground. Repeat the movement for 10 to 12 repetitions over 2 to 3 sets. To make the exercise more challenging, but not harder to perform, swing your arms over your head so they are lying on the ground. When you lift your shoulders, lift your arms at a 45-degree angle from the ground, behind your head. Repeat the abdominal action as previously described. According to Mark Faries and Mike Greenwood in "NSCA's Strength and Conditioning Journal," this version is called a long lever crunch.
Chair Leg Lifts for Lower Abs
Performing leg lifts on the ground may be an acceptable exercise for obese individuals to do. If not, try performing them using a chair. Start by sitting on the edge of a stable, hard chair with your hands behind you, grasping the seat so that you can stabilize your trunk and upper body. With your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, slowly lift your knees, thereby raising your feet off the ground as high as you can. Briefly hold the top position for a second or two, before returning your feet to the ground. Repeat the movement for 10 to 12 repetitions over 2 to 3 sets. Although not as effective as standard leg lifts, this can be a good starting point for those who cannot perform regular leg lifts.
Chair Twists with a Lift and the Obliques
To perform chair twists with a leg lift, start by sitting on the edge of a sturdy chair with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Reach behind your left hip with your left hand and grasp the chair for added trunk stability. Bend your right arm so your palm is next to your right ear. Lift your left leg, while simultaneously twisting your upper body to the left and contracting your abs in an attempt to touch your right elbow to your left knee. Do not worry if they are unable to touch. Repeat the movement for 10 to 12 repetitions before performing the same movement sequence with the right leg and left arm. Repeat the exercise for 2 to 3 sets on each side of the body.
- "NSCA's Strength and Conditioning Journal" Core Training: Stabilizing the Confusion; Mark Faries and Mike Greenwood, Ph.D., CSCS*D, FNSCA; April 2007
- "NSCA's Strength and Conditioning Journal"; Overweight and Obese Adults: Exercise Intervention; Jeremy Barnes, Ph.D., CSCS, Craig Elder, Ph.D., ATC, CSCS, and Thomas Pujol, Ed.D., CSCS; August 2004
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.