Fitness Focus: 5 moves for Awesome Abs
Did you know your abdominal's help you have great posture, balance and stability? It is true - your core strength is key to allowing you to be active and may help prevent back pain. But this doesn't mean you need to go to a fancy gym or exercise class to get strong abs. There are exercises that can be done anytime and (almost) anywhere to strengthen your core. Here are 5 of my favorite ab exercises.
I am sure you knew this was coming. Planks are great for strengthening your core but you also use other muscles, like arm & leg muscles, making this move a great all over toning move. Holding a plank is challenging. Start off trying to hold a plank everyday for at least 15 seconds.
Then increase the time by 10 seconds as you feel stronger. After you gain strength, you'll be amazed how many other exercises you can do starting in plank! Such as mountain climbers. Mountain climbers are basically a plank but you alternate bringing one knee towards your arm which works the lower abs & increases your heart rate.
STRAIGHT LEG RAISES
After you are done with plank, lay down on your back to work lower abs. The key to straight leg raises is to put your hands under your butt in order to keep your lower back safe. Raise and lower your legs to hover above the floor 20 times. Do not lose the tension in your abs by doing this exercise too quickly. Instead, try to raise and lower you legs as you count to 10 each time. Slowing down the pace will help focus the intensity in your abs.
A favorite pose of mine in yoga is bridge. Not only does it help strengthen your core but it also strengthens your butt, hips and lower back. Simply lie down on your back with knees bent and feet close to your butt. Slowly raise your hips while you work your arms under your back. Make sure your knees do not separate too far apart - they should be only as wide as if they are holding a volleyball between them. Hold the pose for a count of 10 and slowly lower your hips back to the ground. Do this move 5 times to start. Increase the number of times as you get stronger.
SITTING WOOD CHOP CRUNCH
No abdominal routine would be complete without addressing the obliques. These are the muscles along your sides that help support rotation of the spine. So it is important that you build strength in those muscles.
Sit on your butt and bend your knees. Raise your bent legs so they are eye level. Using a weight (if I do this at home, I find a bottle of full laundry detergent) and starting in the middle, twist to the left while keeping your legs raised. Return to the middle. Repeat the same move but twisting to the opposite side. Again it is important not to rush through this move in order to keep intensity on the muscles. Do this move 20 times on each side.
WALK THE PLANK
Now this is going to be hard! Start in a plank position and slowly lower to your forearms, one at a time, and then go back up to straight arms. The key in this move is to not sway the hips - try to keep them stable. In the beginning you may only be able to do 5 but it is good to keep doing those same 5 until you can build to 10 and more! One other tip - try to alternate hands going down and up.
I hope the above exercises inspire you to work on your abs! If you try this routine, let me know how you like it. Follow my blog on Bloglovin.