This is a fast, and (fairly) easy ab workout my trainer sometimes likes to employ. Why is it called the Tortoise & Hare Ab Workout? Well, part of the movement you do slowly, and the other part you do fast. But why?
Concentric and Eccentric Movement
It comes down to concentric and eccentric movements. A concentric movement shortens the length of a muscle, like when you’re doing a bicep curl and you bend your elbow and bring the weight up towards your shoulder. The eccentric movement would be when you lower the weight. Studies have shown that muscle strength can be built faster during the eccentric phase if you slow it down. (For a simple explanation, check out this article. For you sciency geeks, Wikipedia goes more in depth.)
Slowing down the eccentric movement breaks down muscle faster. I know this might sound bad, but you build strength through your muscles repairing the breakdown (thus rest and recovery time is key). Consider this a really fast form of evolution in your body. You demand more, so your muscles evolve to meet the demand.
Here is part 1 of a 2 part Tortoise & Hare Ab Workout. If you’re out of shape or have a bad back, be sure to check with your health care provider to determine whether or not these exercises are safe for you to perform.
Tortoise & Hare Slow Decline & Fast Sit Up
For the first part of the movement, get down into a sit up position (as shown in top left photo) and hold a weight (it can even be a can of soup) with both hands. Slowly lower your upper body down to the ground, keeping your back straight so your abs contract. The entire movement should be done to the count of 20 seconds, so at the 10 second mark you should only be halfway down.
Once your upper body is fully down on the ground, carefully set the weight to the side, and start doing full sit ups. Perform 10 sit ups at the fastest pace you can without compromising your form.
Step 3 – Repeat!
Once you’ve completed your 10 sit ups, grab your weight and get right back into the eccentric exercise of slowly lowering your upper body down to the ground. You should do 3 complete rounds of this exercise without a break, and it should take right around 2 minutes or so.
Stay tuned this week for the second part of this Ab routine!