17 Jun 2020
t’s been drilled into our heads, that we need to keep our abdominals strong. Why? Well, for so many reasons! They help to support and stabilize the back. They provide a stable core for doing overhead movements. They have been shown to have an impact on hip and knee function. They help us breathe (especially in situations where we need to forcefully exhale). They help with posture and of course movement too. They help to keep our intestines and other organs from glooping out of our abdomen! Additionally, they help us to cough, vomit, sing, yell, push out babies (okay, they only do that for ½ the population… and not even that!), hold urine in… push urine out, and defecate! So, really… 3 cheers for your abdominals!
Thus, it makes sense that we exercise our abdominals and keep them strong. But did you know that there are plenty of ways to do this? As well, it’s likely best (and less monotonous) to change up your exercise routine and find ways to throw in a little abdominal exercise in short, easily attainable bouts! Check out these abdominal exercise options! There is no need to do all of them or any combination of them at the same time. Add some of these into the things you do during the day so as to ensure that you actually do a little bit of abdominal on a regular basis! (Caveat, if you have back pain, please consult with your healthcare professional before attempting these on your own.)
1. Crunches: We’ve heard of the sit up, but really, you don’t need to come all the way up. A crunch is simply done by lying on your back and lifting you head and shoulders off the ground. You can slide your hands to your knees and back down or put your hands behind your head. Do this slowly and repeat as many as able.
2. Planking: The world record for holding a plan was just broken this year by a 62-year-old former US Marine. He held the plank for 8 hours, 15 minutes, and 15 seconds! No thank you! However, trying to hold for a 10, 20, 30 seconds or even a minute is a real accomplishment. Throw this in once or twice a day!
3. Leg lifts. Lying on your back with your hands by your side or I recommend tucking them under your buttocks, lift your legs off the ground. Bring them up simultaneously if you have no back problems, or one at a time if you are just starting out.
4. Pelvic tilts: I like to do this one when I’m sitting at the computer or driving in the car. Contract your abdominal muscles so as to rock your pelvis backwards, then reverse. Doing both directions helps you to feel the movement better. Alternately, you can do this while lying on your back.
5. Back bends: Stand up tall and bend backwards. Never go into pain. Try to breathe while you are in the back bend. Use your hands on your buttocks if you need the support.
6. Yoga Boat Pose: I admit, this one gets my muscles shaking like crazy. It looks like the picture below. You can do it more leaned back to make it more challenging. Hold for what you can or about 5 breath cycles.
7. Mountain climber exercise: Start in a plank and then bend one hip and knee moving it forwards, replace it back, and repeat on the other side. Do whatever number you can achieve on both sides. Challenge yourself to do one more than you think you want to!
8. Stomach Vacuums: This is a newer exercise. Essentially, you exhale, then suck in your stomach and hold. From here either count to 10 and breathe again, resting until you feel able to repeat it. (I try to do 10 this way.) Or continue to hold the ‘suck in’ component, but now breathe while your tummy is sucked in. (Harder than it sounds.) I like to do vacuums while leaning on the bathroom counter. Be care of this one if you are prone to getting light-headed.
9. Stand tall as you walk and think about having just a little bit of tone in your abdominal muscles. If you have to walk from point A to point B… why not make it an abdominal exercise?
10. Bird Dog: Start from on your hands and knees. From here progress to lifting and pointing one leg and then the opposite arm. Hold for a few cycles of breath. Then switch out to the other diagonal pair.
11. Dance it out! Go all Shakira and JLo for a few minutes a day! Did you see the halftime show of the 2020 Superbowl? Move those hips my friends! Your abs will thank you!
But if you can’t keep up with that level of dance, take it back in time and follow Chubby Checker and do the Twist.
The bottom line is, have some fun with it. Throw it into your daily routine. Simply think about your abdominals now and then and give them a little work out periodically.