It’s early in the year to be thinking about beach bodies and how your abs are going to look as you strut your stuff during the summer holidays but it is never too soon to be thinking about toning, tightening and strengthening your core, particularly your back and abdominals.
Exercises for the abs
Here are some great exercises that you can do in the gym or at home, that will help you lengthen, strengthen and tone your abs, including both your stomach and back.
1. Abdominal hold:
In the gym use the tricep bars (as shown in picture left). Hold your legs at a perpendicular angle to your body for as long as you can. Repeat 10 times.
If you are working out at home, sit on the edge of a sturdy chair or bench and put your hands on the edge pointing towards your knees. Tighten your abs, extend your arms and lift your toes 2-4 inches off the floor. Make sure your buttocks are off the chair. Hold for as long as you can. Repeat six times. Great for arms and shoulders as well as abdominals.
2. The Pilates 100
This exercise is ‘borrowed’ from the world of Pilates and it certainly gets your heart pumping and your abs working. Sit on a mat with your knees bent by your chest and your hands at your side. Turn your palms to face down, lift your head and shoulders off the mat and vigorously pump your arms up and down (6 inches either way). Curl your chin into your chest and never relax your abs during the whole movement. Inhale for five movements, then exhale for five – repeat until you have done 100 pumps.
3. Squat then twist
This is a standing movement that involves quite vigorous sideways movement, so make sure you are warmed up. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms in front of you at shoulder height. Squat down, so your knees are at a 90 degree angle, then twist your upper body to the left. Straighten up, then repeat the exercise to the right. Keep your weight in your heels and don’t allow your knees to jut forward away from your toes. Keep your knees facing forward as your chest and shoulders move side to side. For the best results, bend your knees as close to 90 degrees as possible. Repeat 20 times and, although a vigorous twist is involved, always keep it controlled.
4. The Russian twist
You can use a weight or medicine ball for this one if you want to. Sit on the floor with your feet flat and your knees bent at 90 degrees. Either holding the weight/ball or with your arms straight out in front of you, lift your feet off the floor and straighten your legs. Your upper body should be at a 45 degree angle so that you make a ‘V’ shape, with your bottom as the point of the ‘V’ (See picture below). Now move the ball/weight or just your arms to the floor on your left side. Hold for one second and return to centre. Repeat to the right. Repeat this move 20 times, never relaxing the tightness in your stomach or allowing your feet to drop to the floor.
5. The Cobra
Borrowed from the school of Yoga, the Cobra looks after the back, which is very important when focusing on the abdominals. To perform this classic Yoga move, lie facedown on the floor with your palms near your chest. Lift your head, shoulders, and chest off the floor, pulling your shoulder blades down and together. Hold for a count of five and then lower back down. Repeat 8 to 10 times.
For more exercises for your abs or general fitness advice, contact a member of the Kelsey Kerridge gym team.