Let’s be honest, you’ve probably never heard anyone say, “no I don’t want better abs”. The reality is, we all want a stronger and sexier core, but get frustrated with how long results can take.
What if we said that the whole reason for that might be because of your form? To understand the reason why proper form is important, let’s first highlight what happens to the abdominal muscles during a sit-up.
With any movement, you want to strive for a full range of motion. If you want to strengthen your abdominal muscles, this is especially important.
To get the full benefit of a sit-up, the body should create two pivot points, one at the pelvis and the other at the spine. Point 1 (the pelvis) should tilt up 10 to 15 degree and point 2 (the spine) should be arched 15 to 30 degrees.
By creating tilts at these two points, the core is fully extended and creates tensions. The tension is needed to challenge the muscles as you flex, making your core stronger.
Using an Ab Mat for this movement is beneficial because it helps create the pivot points and maximizes the movement.
In this article, you’ll learn everything there is to know about an Ab Mat. In addition, you’ll discover why it’s important to invest in your own Ab Mat (your core will thank you).
What is an Ab Mat?
It’s important to establish what an Ab Mat is and how it works. An Ab Mat is one of the simplest, yet most effective pieces of equipment ever made. Simply, an Ab Mat is a board covered with quality foam and vinyl, with a 30-degree sloping arch.
The Ab Mat is designed to help guide and support your core so that you get a full range of motion while performing a sit up. The Ab Mat sits on the base of your spine and the gentle padding cushions your spine while arching it back, giving you the ability to achieve the perfect form for a sit-up.
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Who Can Perform Ab Mat Exercises?
Knowing the proper way to engage and maximize your core is essential to your progress. Now that you know an Ab Mat is helpful in performing sit-up exercises, you might be wondering who uses them.
If you’re into CrossFit, then you know Ab Mats are an essential part of any WOD. Ab Mats have gained a lot of popularity because they’re used in environments where sit-ups are done in mass quantities. They’re useful in guiding the pelvis and spine for a full extension.
If you’re not into CrossFit and want to try one out, you might need your own. That’s because most gyms rely on machines or other equipment and don’t keep many Ab Mats on hand. If you’re doing a home workout, then you’ll definitely want to consider owning one.
The Benefits of Using an Ab Mat
We’ve covered a few benefits of using (and owning) an Ab Mat, but we want to give you our top reasons why using an Ab Mat can be so beneficial for your workout sessions.
No matter if you’re a CrossFit athlete, professional athlete, or just wanting to get in shape, here are our three top benefits of using an Ab Mat.
1) Full range of motion
We mentioned this part briefly above, but the biggest benefit of using an Ab Mat is that you get a full range of motion. What does that mean?
Simply put, the ab mat allows your spine and pelvis to pivot to optimal levels. That means when you do a crunch/sit-up you’re utilizing the entire group of muscles to contract fully from start to finish.
2) Core stabilization
By performing a full range of motion, you’re also strengthening your entire core. This is especially important because it helps you perform other exercises that directly (or indirectly) involve your core.
For example, performing knees to elbows in CrossFit requires quite a bit of core strength and stability. In addition, doing any type of barbell moves, whether a squat or deadlift, a strong core is vital to your overall form.
3) Less Hip Flexor tension
A huge problem with a lot of us is that we sit a lot during the day. This can cause issues with hip flexor muscles when we perform any lower-body moves, including the use of our core with sit-ups. Ever noticed your hips are sore and achy after sit-ups?
That’s because traditional sit-ups can create added tension on the hip flexors. Using an Ab Mat helps focus the right muscles and activate them during a sit-up, which can alleviate some pressure that’s put on the hip flexors.
How to Use an Ab Mat
It’s relatively easy to use an Ab Mat. The first step is to place it under the lumbar spine with the higher arching part facing your buttocks. This will create the support needed for the abdominals to move through their full range of motion.
Next, ensuring that the mat is against the arch of your spine, lay back against it, and bring your feet together. This ensures that you open up your hip flexors and engages the use of your abdomen, avoiding the use of your hips during a sit-up. Lastly, perform the sit-up according to your fitness level and difficulty.
Here’s the suggested form and difficulty based on your fitness level
- Beginner: have your hands at your hips, as you sit up, move your hands up and through the inside of your knees
- Experienced: have your hands resting on your shoulders and perform the sit-up
Expert: have your hands up and over your head as you perform a sit-up
Top Ab Mat Exercises
Depending on your fitness level, you can pick which ab mat exercises work best for you. Most of them are fairly straightforward and you’ve probably done them in the past.
If you’re looking for some ways to mix up your routine, here are a few moves you can incorporate into your workout.
The traditional move almost everyone has done. Remember that you can mix up your difficulty level based on where your hand placement is.
2) Side Crunches
These work just as if you’re standing upright and doing a crunch. However, you’ll lay on an Ab Mat and perform a crunch to target your obliques.
3) Sit-up Twists
As you perform a sit-up, twist to one side, then another, to give your obliques the stretch and range it needs. The support from the Ab Mat will guide your core and having your feet elevated adds to the burn.
4) Reverse Crunches
This time, your legs and will help you perform the crunch motion. You will lie back and be guided by the Ab Mat, elevating your legs (or knees) and performing a thrust motion upward, allowing the core to engage.
Choosing the Right Ab Mat
By now, you know everything there is to know about an Ab Mat, and when it comes to choosing the right mat, the benefits are endless. If you're looking for support and to achieve a full range of motion, then investing in a quality Ab Mat is important.
With a rounded contoured design to support your lower back as you train, the Gymreapers Ab Mat helps prevent discomfort, pain, or injury during training. Whether you're a beginner or a world-class athlete, we have created a premium-grade Ab Mat for a high level of support. Start taking your workouts to the next level today!