Tutorial: SummerABS Alternating Knee Cap Reach
This is the third exercise in the stretch back series of the SummerABS workout. Much like the first two exercises in this series, this is an advancement of the movements you have already learned. The emphasis is still on working from the bottom of the muscle rather than the top, and you want to keep your focus on deepening the scoop into your abdominal cavity throughout any of these exercises. When doing it this way, the whole muscle is always engaged; this makes all the difference and is the foundation of what I will teach you here with SummerABS. The results speak for themselves; flatten that lower pouch and define your midriff.
Like all SummerABS exercises, the proper form is vastly more important than the number of reps. Remember that more is not better; Quality over quantity! If your abs feel fully engaged and you are executing the motion and the breathing well, that is what is important. Stand up between each set and see if you feel a “drawn-in, taller” sensation from deep inside. If so, you have found that SummerABS feeling. If you absolutely need a number of repetitions to go for, start with ten total; right is one, left is one. Work your way up to twenty total.
In the video, we are demonstrating this exercise on a Physio Ball (Also known as an exercise ball, fitness ball, stability ball, etc.). If you find yourself feeling a little anxious due to instability, you can substitute the exercise ball with a Bosu-ball instead.
While it is not ideal to do this exercise on the floor without an exercise or Bosu-ball, you can still use it as a means to practice proper breathing techniques for when you do not have access to either. If you have a folded yoga mat, a large pillow, etc. you can position yourself on it as if it were the ball or Bosu; it will not be the same, but it will still provide results.
Proper Posture, Technique and Tips
- Take a seat on the ball, and walk forward until your lower back is on the ball. Lie on your back over the ball from your buttocks to head, making sure your back stays flat along the curve of the ball, so that your abs are isolated, and you have the sensation of the ball supporting your lower back.
- Reach your hands behind your head, folding them at the place where your neck meets your skull, right where you nod from.
- Relax your neck and upper shoulders; pull the outside of your shoulder blades down towards your waist, keeping your elbows slightly in front of your ears, enough so that you can easily see them in your peripheral vision.
- Keep your legs slightly wider than your hips, with your knees tracking directly over the middle toes, at about a 90-110 degree angle.
- Start to exhale as you initiate in the lower abdomen at the very lowest point of your abs and make a scoop. Fully exhale as you come up, concave from the pubis going towards your solar plexus. Aim for coming up 20 degrees past flat and keep this solely in your abs; do not lift your body off the ball. As you are coming up, allow your pubic bone to come slightly upward, but not excessively.
- While performing the above motion, squeeze your glutes (do NOT tuck or clench them so that you feel your lower back is being stretched) and come up, allowing your abs to fall in. A helpful visual for this motion is to imagine a souffle falling in. Hold the position for a second or two at the apex of the motion, and concave your abdomen even further.
- Come up with a very slight twist, deepening the scoop in your abdominals. Think of your bottom rib going towards the opposite hip bone. Continuously scoop out your abdominal cavity, while twisting your torso as if you are wringing out a shirt.
- At the same time start extending your right hand up and forward, reaching towards the outside of your left knee. It is not important if you actually are able to touch said area, it's more about the intention of doing so. Stay as flat on the ball as possible, and keep the motion in the abdominal cavity more so than in your actual limbs.
- When doing the wringing out motion, continuously pull your abs in beneath.
- Stretch back over the ball, returning to the position where you are lying over it, inhaling throughout this motion.
- Repeat on the other side. Right hand towards left knee is one rep, Left hand towards right knee is one rep.
To get back up from the ball when finished with a set, reach your arms forward and walk your way back up. Watch the video to get a very clear visual for this.
Summer: Juicy Couture
Meegan Descheneaux (Demonstrator): H&M