Monday, December 16, 2013

Gear Tips - The Abmat

Here's one little trick to making the Abmat Situp much more effective
Abmats should find their way into every functional fitness gym
The Abmat is the all time staple in the functional fitness gym.  It's easy to think of it as nothing more than a seat cushion to provide comfort when sit-ups are programmed into the warmup or workout.

But, as Greg at +Wolf Brigade Gym showed us, many first time users tend to use it more as a seat cushion than for what it's true purpose is.

Admittedly, when I first used the Abmat, I tucked it well under my butt and thought of it more as a tool to keep me comfortable during those long workouts.  In fact, the more of it I sat on, the more comfortable it was.  Greg pointed out that tucking it up under your butt actually allows it to be used as a fulcrum, making the sit-up movement much easier and therefore much less effective.

Greg insists that all of his athletes put the Abmat noticeably behind them before they begin the sit-up movement.  The extra inch of space between the Abmat and the butt accentuates the movement and effectiveness of the sit up drastically.  I tried it and immediately noticed a huge difference.  The Abmat now extended my range of motion and forced my core to do more work.

And although it's uses are somewhat limited - it comes in very handy for what we've found to be another great use - Handstand Push Ups.  For those that are scaling the Handstand Push Up and have not yet built the strength for the movement, try stacking two or three abmats under your head against the wall.  This limits the range of motion of the exercise and can put it within reach of those trying to master the movement.  As your strength improves, remove one of the abmats.  With a shorter stack of abmats, the difficulty increases.

Need some protection for your head and neck dunning long HSPU workouts?  Try an Abmat or two.
Abmats keep your head comfortable during HSPUs.
Another distinct advantage that the Abmat brings to the Handstand Push Up is the comfort it brings to the top of your head.  When you are looking at the whiteboard and see 21-15-9 of Deadlifts and Handstand Pushups, sometimes it's hard to tell what might be more sore the next day - your back or the top of your head.

The cushion of the Abmat will not only keep your head more comfortable, it will keep you much safer.  Failure in this movement can lead to uncontrolled drops of the weight of your body on your head, neck and spine.  With the addition of one or more Abmats under your head, the impact is lessened.  **Note:  Performing Handstand Push Ups without the appropriate level of upper body strength can quickly lead to injury.  Before you attempt this exercise, seek out a local trainer for guidance.

For those athletes that have mastered the exercise, add a bumper plate on either side of the abmat to increase the range of motion.  The deficit created by the added height of the bumpers will keep your range of motion full all the while saving your head from direct contact with the hard rubber floor.

It's a simple idea that should really be the staple in every gym.

From Mike Cleavas out at +CrossFit Nj├Ârd in Chesapeake, VA - Great tip...I've gone over this in my box several times as well. Always start with the low side snugged up to your "crack" (for lack of a better term) with the ramp or elevation going away. This actually hyper-extends the spine/torso while doing sit-ups and engages more of the abdominal muscles and psoas. The abmat isn't meant as a tool to "assist" sit-ups, but to make them a fuller range of motion. A lot of people say "nah, I want to do real sit-ups...I don't need a pad". I laugh and then have them do a dozen or so before the look on their face changes quickly.

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