There are very few fitness-junkies who aren’t obsessed with developing their ab muscles. They exercise for long and hard hours to tone their midsection, becoming so obsessed with the ever-elusive six-pack, that they often forget to pay attention to their core.
The truth is, no matter how hard you work your abdominal muscles, you will never really quite get there unless you engage your core – your entire midsection that involves all the muscles in that area including the front, back and sides. The best way to do this? The body saw.
Before we get to the steps of this exercise, let’s talk about why it’s so important to incorporate this into your workout in the first place.
The Importance Of The Body Saw Exercise
We’ve already pointed out the fact that exercising your core muscles through the body saw can actually bring you one step closer to your ab-dream. But most people get so caught up with chasing after the aesthetic benefits of having well-defined abs, they completely overlook the advantages of developing a lean and fit core, which is so much more important for bettering our health.
Why Should You Pay Attention To Your Core?
Your core constitutes of the muscles that exist between your hips and your shoulders, like the transverse abdominis (TVA), the erector spinae, the obliques and the lower lats to name a few. Every time you stand, sit, carry your grocery bags, mow the lawn, or even walk, you owe these muscles big time.
Because by holding up your spine and keeping it steady, these muscles ensure easy, seamless movement as you transition from one task to another. Plus they also keep you safe from the potential spine-damaging impact of motions like rotation, extension, and flexion.
How The Body Saw Works
The body saw forces you brace yourself against movement as you use your limbs – just like in real life. Thus, it trains your core in the same way that it’s designed to carry out its functions, and this is what makes the body saw one of the best exercises you can do to strengthen your midsection.
Each time you move your hands and feet farther away from your body, your stabilizing muscles push themselves into overdrive to hold your spine stable and still. Also, because you’re keeping your core in a fixed position all throughout, your ab muscles won’t feel the same “burning” sensation that you get when you’re doing those crunches.
This, however, doesn’t mean the body saw isn’t doing much for your abs. When practiced regularly in its right form, it will make your core sturdy and strong while simultaneously making your abs pop.
How To Do The Body Saw Exercise
The body saw exercise can be added to your workout program in place of one of your abdominal exercises and should be done no more than three times per week.
One of the great things about this exercise is that it can be done either at home or at the gym, provided you can find a surface that can give you a “sliding” motion. If you’re using the gym, you can take the help of sliders. If you’re doing this exercise at home, just wear some socks or use a towel instead.
Now, onto the steps.
- Place your towel or the sliders on the floor.
- Get into plank position such that your feet are on the towel or on the sliders, depending on what you’re using.
- Plant your forearms firmly on the floor, keeping your elbows directly underneath, in line with your shoulders.
- Keep your abs contracted throughout the movement; this is to ensure that your hips don’t sag. (If you find your hips sagging during the movement, you’ll know you’re taking a range of motion that’s too far.)
- Now squeeze your glutes, hamstrings, and quads tightly while maintaining your spine in a straight line all the way from your head to your feet. Push yourself simultaneously with your forearms and elbows so that you slide backward.
- Now return to your starting position. This becomes one full rep.
Tip: If you want to make the body saw more challenging, you can move from the forearm plank position to a push-up plank position. However, master the basic version of the push-up plank first, or it can strain your back severely.
Number Of Reps
If you’re new to the body saw, push yourself for the time, not the number of reps. Your main focus should be on the total abdominal tension and a well-controlled pause in the middle of the rep when the exercise gets the hardest.
As a beginner, three sets of 30 seconds is a great start. As you get stronger, you can work up to four sets of 10 reps, taking about five seconds to complete each rep.