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Water provides an effective environment for strengthening abdominal muscles. You will improve your posture and reduce low back pain when you tone your core in the shallow water. Take your workout to the deep for core building benefits include the additional trunk stability. On land, you have gravity pushing down on your body to support the abdominal movements. In water, the stability comes from you contracting your core.
Your abdominal muscles contract to perform the aquatic core exercises. The deepest layer of abdominal muscle tissue is the transverse abdominis, which is located around the inside of your abdominal cavity. The TA acts similar to a corset and flattens your abdomen when contracted. The outermost layer of muscle tissue is the rectus abdominis. The RA is best known for its "washboard" appearance and lies on the front of your torso between your rib cage and your hips. You have a pair of oblique muscles on both sides of your abdomen. The internal and external obliques contract when you bend to the side or rotate your trunk.
Stand in shallow water with your feet on the bottom of the pool. Shallow water level is between your neck and your hips. Start with an upper body twist by standing with your feet wider than your shoulders with your knees and toes pointing out to the sides. Bend your arms to 90-degree angles and rest your elbows near your sides with your hands out to the side. Spread your fingers and open your hands. Contract your stomach by pulling your navel toward your spine. Exhale and rotate your torso and arms to the right. Turn as far as you are able without your hips rotating. Inhale and return to the center. Repeat the twist to the left. Begin with two sets of eight twists to each side to strengthen your rectus abdominis and your obliques.
A reverse curl targets your rectus abdominis muscles from the bottom up. You will need something to help you float in the deep water such as a flotation belt, or a noodle placed behind your back and under your arms. Begin in a vertical position with your legs hanging beneath you. Contract your stomach, then bend your knees slightly. Exhale and raise your knees toward your chest. Inhale and return your legs to the starting position. Complete two to four sets of eight repetitions.
A pool noodle provides added resistance for your core strengthening movements. In the shallow water, stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Hold onto the middle of a noodle with your right hand. Straighten your right arm at your side so your palm is facing your hip. Exhale and bend to the right as you push down on the noodle. Think about shortening the distance between your ribs and your right hip as your obliques contract. Inhale and return to standing. Complete eight to ten side bends on the right and an equal amount on the left.
An abdominal crunch in the water is similar to a land crunch. Place the middle of a noodle across your upper back and the ends underneath your arms. Lie face up with your legs extended and your toes out of the water. Exhale, bend your knees and draw your knees toward your chest. This movement contracts the rectus abdominis. Inhale, straighten your legs and return to the starting position. Complete two to four sets of eight repetitions.