If you have been spent any time at a gym working out or done any research at all online for some at home workouts, then you might have seen an ab mat in use at some point. Most gyms do not keep ab mats on hand because they use machines instead for core training. However, they are missing out on one of the greatest and easiest to use fitness tools of all time.
An ab mat is a simple way to increase the effectiveness of your old fashioned sit-ups by about 100%.
What exactly is an ab mat and why the heck do I need one?
They are a simply designed tool that is basically a piece of covered foam and board with a 30 degree sloping arch in it. This arch is designed for your lower back so when you perform a sit up over it, it supports your spin through the movement causing you to utilize the full range of motion in your abs. This requires more effort to do, making it a more effective workout.
What does "full-range" of motion even mean?
Fitness people throw the term around all the time assuming everyone knows what it means. It is imperative that when performing any given exercise that we allow the muscle to contract from its fully extended position to its fully contracted position.
For a sit-up, this environment cannot happen when simply laying on the floor with a flat back to perform sit-ups. It can happen, however, when we place an ab mat with the higher portion towards your bum allowing the abdominals to move through the now fully available range of motion.
How To Start Using an Ab Mat
- Place your ab mat on the ground, unfolded.
- The Survival and Cross ab mat makes it easy to know which direction the mat should face because you will be sitting on the padded part and the higher arching end will be at your lower back.
- Sit so your tailbone is right against the arch, but still on the ground.
- Lay back against the mat and bring the bottoms of your feet together. This opens up your hip flexors and forces you to use your abdomen and not your hips during a sit-up
- Perform your sit-up routine.
For a visual explanation on how to use an ab mat, check out this video from expertvilliage.com
Beginners: Keep your hands at your hips and push them through your knees as you raise up in a sit-up. This will give you less weight to move through the motion
Intermediate: Keep your hands at your shoulders. This adds weight to as you perform a sit-up, making it a little harder.
Hard: Put your hands over your head as you do your sit-ups adding more weight and increasing the difficulty level.
If you are just starting to use an ab mat in your workout, you might feel like you aren’t able to do as many sit-ups as you could without one. Don’t worry, that is normal and you will quickly build strength and be able to do more repetitions. The key here is you are doing more quality sit-ups using an ab mat and effectively working out your entire abdomen.