People often talk about “strengthening your core” but what does that mean, exactly, and what does it do for you? Simply put, core exercises help train the muscles in your hips, abdomen, pelvis, and lower back to work together better and more seamlessly. This not only builds strength, but also leads to improved balance and stability. Whether at work or play, most sports and other physical activities depend on the strength and stability of your core muscles.
Strengthening your abdominal muscles (abs) is important for your basic health. Strong abs help to stabilize the spine and keep you from injuring your back. They (strong abs) are important in virtually every sport, from golfing to running. Any exercise that involves the use of your abdominal and back muscles in coordinated fashion is considered to be a core exercise.
Inversion tables might be the perfect piece of equipment to add more intense exercises to your daily routine to help strengthen those core muscles. The key issue here is to get the right inversion table for your particular needs. Despite the fact that nearly all inversion tables look almost identical, there are tiny differences which make a given model more or less suitable for you.
As you will be held by nothing but your ankles, a good ankle locking system is a must. Don't neglect this particular feature, as it might turn into a real pain to add extra cushioning after just a few reps.
Some inversion tables have the ability to “lock out” in full inversion, which means that their backrest passes 180 degrees of rotation and usually comes to rest on the front legs crossbar. These inversion tables usually have light backrest but the adjustable pivot arms is rather a necessity.
In any case, it's a good practice to read the customer reviews of the table you're planning to buy to see what others are saying and to make sure it would lock out in full inversion.
These are the simplest inversion tables, but will allow for plenty of fantastic inverted exercises.
Inverted Sit-ups This is the only way to perform a sit-up that is safe for your back. Gravity helps to straighten your spine so that when you move, it doesn't place a harmful load on your back. To perform, simply place your hands behind your head or on your chest (whichever if most comfortable for you), then sit up, all the way to your knees. You might need to place your hands behind your knees to help pull yourself into a full sitting position. Some people have claimed that doing a single full inverted sit-up is as difficult as performing ten “regular” ones. Ten times the workout, with no strain to your back!
Inverted Squats The great thing about doing these exercises on the table is that you're able to exercise your legs as well. You'll need to steady yourself by placing each hand on the rear legs of the A-frame. Bending your knees, lift the whole of your body toward the sky. This action is similar to a standing squat, except that you're utilizing your leg muscles to pull your body weight up instead of seeing them resist your body weight.
Inverted Crunches Place your hands on your chest or behind your head (whichever is more comfortable for you) and lift your torso half way up to your knees.
Inversion tables with an angle locking mechanism will allow you to perform all of the exercises above at different angles of incline. That solution makes the core strengthening exercises accessible to more users. Tables with that feature are generally more expensive, but are certainly worth considering as they will allow you to gradually intensify your efforts so you won't need to be super fit to enjoy the benefits of abdominal exercises.
On top of that, this type of table, thanks again to their angle locking device, will allow you to perform back hyper-extensions to strengthen your lower back muscles, provided that the ankle locking system is fitted with front and rear foam rollers and a long locking lever. Preferably, there would also be a footrest platform (instead of an ordinary bar) to make it easier to lock yourself face-down, but this is not strictly necessary.
Back hyper-extensions Lock your ankles securely and lie face down on the backrest. Lock the backrest at the desired angle. Raise your upper body, bending at the waist. Hold for a count, and then slowly return back to the starting position.
Some users shorten the height adjusting bar to bring the center of gravity of their body further from the pivot point towards the head in order to imbalance the table and keep the tether strap taut to hold the preset angle. In that position, the backrest wouldn't react to the exercises being performed, however, I would strongly discourage anyone from doing that as the table might become extremely violent and dangerous. Also, getting back to your starting point would be very difficult.