Bulldog Gear Ab Mat 3.0
The Bulldog Gear Ab Mat 3.0 is a great tool to develop full spinal range of motion abdominal strength. It helps develop cursory strength and gets the abdominals thinking about midline stability for other movements too.
The 3.0 model is made from Urethane and moulded as one single form. Not only does this increase its shelf life as opposed to other models made from multiple components including lower grade foam, with a wooden board and wrapped in vinyl. It is also much more comfortable to use as it keeps its shape throughout usage for sit ups or under an arm for side planks.
For more information on why the Ab Mat is a useful training aid see below.
Why use an Ab Mat?
Before we talk about the reason for the Ab Mat, there’s some basic abdominal muscle anatomy that needs to be understood. The anterior and lateral trunk muscles function in multiple ways: they support the abdominal viscera (that’s what holds your insides together), breathing, and they are concerned with trunk movements of flexion, lateral bending, and rotation. One of the most fascinating parts of abdominals is that the fibers in different layers run in different directions, contributing to their gross strength.
The rectus abdominis is the most superficial (close to the surface) of these muscles and attaches the ribcage to the pelvis. Its primary role is trunk flexion. The internal and external obliques also attach the ribs to the pelvis, and are responsible for rotation and side bending of the trunk. There is another muscle, and it’s one that like the gluteus medius goes on vacation frequently. It’s called the transverse abdominus. This muscle also connects the ribs to the pelvis, but has a line of application much like a weight belt. It’s fibers run on the horizontal and it is responsible for abdominal compression during movement.
Most of our muscles work in three planes of motion. By functioning in three planes of movement, a muscle group can stabilize in one plane and exert movement in another.
What Happens in a Sit Up
In a sit up, like any other movement we do, it is imperative that our body moves through a complete and full range of motion. What this means is that if you lie on the floor, your spine is in a neutral position, or perhaps has a little flexion. To get the most out of a sit up, the abdominals must go from a position of maximal length to a position of minimal length. This is achieved by creating two pivot points, one in the spine and another in the pelvis. The lumbar spine should be extended fifteen to thirty degrees, and the pelvis should be in an anterior tilt of ten to fifteen degrees.
Image courtesy of Koch, Blom, and Jacob. Sit Ups Revisited, 2004.
Why is the Bulldog Gear Ab Mat a useful training aid?
The Ab Mat, when placed under the lumbar spine with the higher portion towards your bum creates an environment for the abdominals to move through their full and available range of motion. It allows for the extension needed in the lumbar spine and the anterior tilt in the pelvis, thereby giving the abdominal muscles full range, elongation, and forceful contraction.
The Ab Mat sit up is great exercise to develop full spinal range of motion abdominal strength so that a person can start to think about getting on a GHD to perform GHD sit-ups. It also helps develop cursory strength for toes-to-bar and knees-to-elbows and gets the abdominals thinking about midline stability during barbell movements.