As a runner I am always looking for ways to improve my form and run more efficiently. As it turns out, the best form of improvement is to actually un-learn all the bad habits I’ve developed since childhood. Stacy Berman of Stacy’s Bootcamp, has been bringing men and women back to their youth with her bootcamp program designed to balance our bodies using the purest form of exercise, running and jumping much like the way we played as children.
Following are a couple of her favorite moves to help us strengthen and tone our core muscle group.
“One of my fav ab exercises is the jack knife because it works the entire core section in one movement including the upper and lower abs, obliques and even the lower back. Another great thing is that there are a bunch of different variations to it. You can twist the upper body side to side for a bit more oblique action, i.e. love handles. You can hold a medicine ball in your hands for some added resistance. You can even grip a light medicine ball between your knees to get the inner thighs and abs working harder. The higher you bring the upper body off the floor the better.”
Muscles: Abs, Lower Back, Obliques
- Start with your arms extended over your head on the floor with your legs on the floor too.
- Lift the upper and the lower body up as high as you can.
- The goal is to lift up so that you look like a “V” but if you can’t do that yet go for a “U” shape and work your way up to the “V”
- Lower the arms, head and legs to about 6 inches off the floor and come back up.
- Make sure to keep the legs straight the entire time (even at the bottom) and avoid arching the back.
- Also remember to BREATH!
“A must do core exercise is the Walk Out. Think of it as a variation to the basic plank. You are going to work your upper and lower abs, obliques and lower back. Walking the hands as far above your head as you can forces the core to work extra hard to stabilize. The added bonus is that you also wind up working the arms and upper back (back fat area) and hamstrings. In this way you are not only pushing your core but working your whole body!”
Muscles: Core, Upper Body, Hamstrings
- Keep the legs straight the entire time
- Walk hands as far over the head as possible (the farther you go the better)
- Walk hands back towards your without bending the knees
Thank you, Stacy, for providing us with these dynamic exercises to help us keep our core engaged in our daily workouts and activities.
We’ve been kicking it up a notch in the month of April to begin preparations for swimsuit season! Our experts have met the challenge by providing us with the most effective ab exercises to incorporate into our workout routine. Here is a collaboration of last week’s most popular “great abs” articles that will give you a challenging workout and a gorgeous tummy.
This exercise from Kerry Ann King seems easy at first – but try to hold it for a while, and you’ll feel the burn kick in! This move proves that you don’t have to get to the gym every day to have great looking abs – you just have to get into those abs!
Today’s guest blogger suggests one of our favorite ab exercises! It doesn’t take a whole lot to do it – but over time, building up your endurance and being able to hold it through all of the shaking is a great way to continually tone your abs.
Rach shows you how to get this move done:
Ready for swimsuit season? Dreading the thousands of crunches you think you need to do to get there? Stop!
I’m like everyone else – I hate sit-ups and crunches. But, probably not for the same reason that everyone else hates them.
I hate sit-ups and crunches because they are too easy… yep, you heard me, too easy.
Cheating on Your Abs
It’s just too easy to cheat yourself when doing sit-ups and crunches. Admit it – you don’t squeeze as many muscles as you could as hard you can with every crunch.
And really, all that you’re doing is cheating yourself out of the benefits of a good ab workout. And – ug – if we expect anything from all of our intense workout exercises – it’s f#%@ing awesome abs!
Do Ab Exercises You Can Feel
There are two types of ab and core exercises that work – and you’ll know they work because you’ll feel the burn.
- Big, Repetitive Movements
- Isometric Holds
The most popular of these is the plank. Holding a plank requires the engagement of most of the muscles throughout your core. Plus, it engages muscles in the legs, arms and shoulders.
Challenge yourself by holding a plank as long as you can, and then beat your time day after day. Every second counts… think about it. In if you can hold for 30 seconds today, add 1 second per day and by this time next month, you’ll be planking for a full minute.
Change it up switching your hand and/or foot position:
- Place your elbows and forearms down on the ground (your hands under your face) – and watch that your tail doesn’t raise.
- Lift and hold one foot up about an inch off the ground. Hold for as long as you can and switch feet.
Wall Press Leg Lifts
- Sit on floor with lower back against a wall, knees slightly bent and feet planted wider than shoulder-width apart. Place hands on floor between legs and squeeze abs.
- Press into floor with fingertips and lift feet about 6 inches. Make it easier: Lift and lower left foot; then repeat with right to complete 1 rep.
Slow-Rise Head Stand
Now, this is one of my current challenges! Getting from a “dolphin” (basically a downward dog with your forearms and head on the floor) into a headstand without kicking your feet… you just slowly raise them upward.
The woman above shows the move one leg at a time. This helps get the feel for balance and gives your neck and back a break until your abs are strong enough to hold both legs.
Once you’re ready to try this, start with both feet on the floor, and your head and forearms ready to support your weight. Slowly bring both knees into your chest, and raise them together into the air. Easy – right? Haha – not at all!
Feel the Burn!
Give these a try and feel the burn in your abs and throughout your core! Bye-bye easy crunches and hello swimsuit season!
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