I recently wrote a blog article highlighting in detail why I think surfers, and the majority of the population, should stop doing crunches from the floor. I am also pretty against planking in most forms, but that is a different story.
In that article, I detailed many reasons for stopping all crunching from the floor, including my reasons for suggesting that partial range of motion abdominal crunches have a tendency to screw up your head carriage, upper shoulders and low back.
In response to that article, I was asked a very simple question. What should you do?
In my attempts to demonstrate how clever I was, I succeeded only in trashing a popular exercise, failed completely to be useful. All I did was contribute to an internet full of people posting the same stuff, which I believe only serves to make people more confused.
I felt like an idiot. So here is my reply.
In this video, I will explain the basics of abdominal conditioning and demonstrate some of the exercises from my program series that serve to train them.
Next to a good sense of humor, I strongly believe that the swiss ball is the second most versatile surf-performance and abdominal conditioning piece of equipment known to man. This most highly prized item can often be found lurking in cupboards, under beds, in the garage, deflated and unloved.
In this video I will show you how to correctly size your swiss ball, and how to care for it so that you can train like a pro whenever it’s flat!
Swiss Balls are awesome, but only if you size them right and pump it up fully. You also need to make sure that you are training on a surface that is free of anything sharp that’s going to ding your ball. The good news is that many makes of swiss ball are now able to withstand heavy loads for functional exercises like dumbbell pressing, and are also burst resistant. If you have a cheap one, and it punctures, it won’t slowly deflate, it will pop like a balloon!
Sizing your ball
As a general rule of thumb, the bigger you are, the bigger the swiss ball you will need. On average, most girls do just fine with a 55cm swiss ball, unless you are tiny, at which point, a 45cm may do.
Most blokes will go for a 65cm swiss ball, if you are in the six-foot range. If you are somewhat smaller than this, go for a 55cm ball, but be aware that this commonly means having a more girly color!
To properly check what size swiss ball you need, inflate it fully, then sit on it. The center point of your knee should be 10 degrees higher than the middle of your hip. This is particularly important if you have a history of lumbar disc derrangements. If you have too much low back curve, you may want to size a ball that’s too small for you. If you are totally confused now, just drop me an email!
The basics of abdominal conditioning for surfing
Functional movements that carry over to surfing mostly don’t happen lying on your back. There is a time and place to do isolation-based ab exercises, and that time should be very limited.
We can use a swiss ball and body weight to mimic many of the movements needed in surfing. These are squatting, lunging, bending, pushing, pulling and twisting.
Your abdominal wall is made of a number of components that all work together – that’s not just your six pack. I explain each of these in detail in the video, but your primary fast twitch muscles are your internal and external obliques (those muscles at your sides) which are principally responsible for rotation movements.
For anyone needing more stability for their low back or hips, getting to know your lower abdominals and your deep abdominals (Tranversus Abdominus) would also be worth investing time in.
Abdominal conditioning that is worth doing involves learning how to isolate and communicate with your abdominal muscles. Then you have to learn how to integrate them into surf specific movement patterns, or you will never be good at “engaging your core” when surfing. Your brain will not know how.
For more detail, check out my surf fitness programs.
I hope you enjoyed this video. If you have surf fitness related questions that need answers please send them to me at email@example.com.
You can also download a free five minute warm up by visiting my site at www.weekendsurfwarrior.com, and check out our full range of surf fitness conditioning products, including all the exercises shown in this video.
’til next time, hooroo!
Ash Boddy, Weekendsurfwarrior