During my “glory days” of about 12 months, when I had the privilege of being able to lift up my shirt when any of my friends asked to see my abs, the first question was always..”Man, how did you get those? I realize that my accomplishment was minimal of what you can see on the internet these days, but for a dad in his early 40’s, it sure was an accomplishment for me! But to answer the question of how a 40 year old can develop abs, without hesitation, the first answer is “in the kitchen.” You can do ab work all day long, but if your diet sucks, you won’t have anything but a pot belly! But my second answer is that I lived with my ab roller.
There is no better way to destroy the core than doing as many reps as possible with this torture device. I would usually do about 5-10 reps for 2-3 sets a couple times a day, then do to extreme soreness, I would have to wait about 2-3 days before completing the exercise again. But as I began to lose fat around the mid section, this exercise surely did bring out the separation between the abs and the obliques. Not to mention, the wife loved that “V” that shows up right around the pelvic region!
So why do you have to proceed with caution? I will put on my Corrective Exercise Specialist hat to help with this one(Yes, for those who don’t know, licensed in addition to an advanced degree): Everyone is familiar with muscle soreness and tightness that occurs with that. This exercise not only focuses on strengthening the abdominal wall and obliques, but muscles that flex the hips (such as raising your legs off the ground) known as the iliopsoas are also engaged in this exercise. When you couple those muscles that bring our torso closer to our lower region, and combine with how we tend to be sitting most of the day as a society, this can create a whole host of movement impairment issues. The hunching over of the torso, the shoulders rounding forward from typing on a keyboard (as I am doing now), and extending our chin forward as we hunch, creates a great potential for future lower back problems, shoulder impingement issues, stiffness in the neck or even “knots” in the trapezius area. So what I am getting at is that in the quest for a nicer stomach, we can introduce more tightness in that area that already is susceptible to issues. So if you plan on adding this exercise into your regime, and yes, you will feel sore, then you must also incorporate plenty of stretching immediately following to lengthen the anterior portion of your body. The cobra is definitely a great stretch to do in between sets and immediately following your bout of ab rolling.
Good luck, keep stretching!