Core strength will look after your body as it ages, so it’s well worth working towards a strong muscular girdle right now, whatever your age! To help accomplish that, here’s a great little ab routine which aims to target all your abdominals muscles and give your whole core a serious punishing! It’s been a while since I wrote about training abs and I thought this cheeky routine was worth sharing, as it requires no weights or gym equipment; it’s perfect to bust out in the living room, garden or local park whilst enjoying this stunning weather! It’s not overly complicated but when done correctly it’s devastatingly effective! Dispatch the 4 exercises back to back. Then have a 1 minute break and do it all over again! 4 rounds should do the trick!
- HANGING LEG RAISES
- This is an awesome ab exercise as well as a great way to strengthen your upper body (arms shoulder and grip strength).
– Start by griping a bar with both arms extended at arms length shoulder width apart.
– Now the tough bit is raising your legs in front of you and lowering them under control, whilst ensuring the rest of your body maintains stationarity (a statistics term, but I’m borrowing it). You want to avoid swinging your hips arms or legs, thereby engaging all the stabilising muscles.
– Options are: (advanced) raising your legs straight up until the torso forms a 90-degree angle with the legs, or if you want even more of a challenge, raising the legs even higher so that your feet touch the bar. The Intermediate option is to bend your knees and raise them to your chest, then slowly lowe them back down. There’s always the Twist too!
– Finally the Beginner option is to bend the knees and then to raise them as far as you can. This takes some of the strain off the stabilising core muscles, which will help at first.
2) SIDE PLANK
- The side plank is a compound movement (i.e. it recruits multiple muscles simultaneously) which is revered because it targets your entire core and hones in on the external and internal Obliques (the ‘corset’ holding you in at your waist. So this exercise can really help sculpt a defined waist and rid yourself of the dreaded ‘muffin top’. The question is, how long can you hold the side-plank ensuring correct technique? If you trial this little exercise, you may find that 10-15 seconds will be your limit, but including it in your training on a regular basis and you’ll soon work your way up to 30-60 seconds holds.
- How to?
1. Start by lying on your right side. Placing your left foot on your right foot, keep your legs straight.
2. Ensure that your elbow is directly under your shoulder and slowly lift yourself up spreading your weight across your body onto your righ arm and right leg.
3. All along engage your core. Avoid pushing your hip too far forward it back. Instead aim to keep your body in line.
4. Maintain the position until failure, and then gently relax
5. Repeat for 5 cycles.
6. Pursue a session of gentle stretching after the abdominal exercises, to promote lengthened and oxygenated muscles
3) REVERSE CURLS
The reverse curls are a great body-weight exercise that helps strengthen the lower abdominals and entire core. It’s easy to forget to target the lower abs, especially the transverse abdominus which are considered your lower abs. This is a great exercise to help you do precisely that but beware as always listen to your body. Start with the easier option and work your way up if you feel comfortable to. Find the two options below.
– First off, always listen to your body and if you feel any discomfort/pain, stop!
– Lie on your back with your legs bent, feet flat on the floor. Place your palms face down on the floor for support, or as in my case, holding on to the bar behind you.
– Imagine you’re almost pushing your lower back down into the floor. This is to prevent the lower back from arching, which would place undue strain on it. Instead tilt your pelvis slightly to make contact with the floor, and breathe in deeply.
– Then raise both bent legs so that your knees are directly over your hips and your feet and shins are parallel to the floor. This is your starting position.
– Now as you exhale, raise your knees slightly towards your chest and then slowly bring your knees back to starting position. It’s a small movement but when done correctly you’ll feel it massively.
– In this instance maintain straight legs throughout. This will require a strong core and lower back. If you feel it’s putting strain on your back, please stick to the leg raises with bent knees. There’s absolutely no benefit in pushing yourself to the point of potentially causing disruptive injury.
– When lowering and raising your straight (or bent) knees, ensure to use your abdominal muscles rather than relying on momentum, or just swinging. Also try to relax your head, and avoid straightening your neck and hunching up your shoulders.
4) MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS
This exercise is another devastating compound move. Aside from positioning yourself in a plank position (and insoidoing, blasting out your core and abdominals) you’re also raising the heart rate by essentially sprinting on the spot, parallel to the floor. It is a punishing exercise, and hard to maintain the intensity. I dare you!
- Start in a high plank. Draw your right knee under your torso, keeping toes off the ground.
- Return to start.
- Switch sides and repeat. Continue as if you’re running in place as far as you can! Aim for 30 seconds or 10 steps on each! Whatever you find challenging!
Good luck to you, dear reader!
by Faya Nilsson