Building and maintaining a strong body core is essential for balance, posture and back health. Your core is the “foundation” of all your body’s movements, whether you are walking, lifting your child, or learning a new exercise routine.
I like this 30 minute abdominal routine because it can be done anywhere and at anytime. All you need is a mat, a soft rug, or even a towel for the floor portion of the exercises.
The routine is broken up into a 5 minute warm-up followed by 12 abdominal exercises. Do each exercise for one minute. Once you complete the circuit repeat the exercises! Remember to always keep your core engaged. Tighten those muscles to protect your back. Don’t forget to breathe.
Each exercise in the warm up is one minute. Start by marching in place at a brisk pace. Bring your knees up toward your chest and swing those arms. Time for jumping jacks. Get those arms straight above your head. Butt kicks are next. Jog in place bringing your heals as close to your butt as possible. To get that core ready to work, stand with your legs slightly wider then hip width apart. Slightly bend your knees. Engage your core and clasp your hands together. Twist that core side to side. Lastly, keep your legs wider then hip width apart. Bring your arms in front of you for balance. Keep your back straight and your weight in your heels and start your squats. Look up toward the ceiling for balance and squat back as if you were sitting in a chair.
1. Standing with your legs spread hip width apart and toes pointed out, place your hands behind your ears. Bend your knee up toward your elbow while bringing your elbow to meet your knee. Repeat on opposite side.
2. Leave your feet planted on the ground. Keep your hands over your ears, elbows pointed out. With an engaged core bend to one side. Squeeze your obliques during the contraction. Alternate sides.
3. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart and hands over your ears, bend your knee up toward your chest while pulling your upper body to meet the knee. Squeeze your abdominals and exhale as your body contracts. Alternate sides.
4. Sit on the floor with your feet on the ground, bent at a 45 degree angle. Cross your arms across your chest. Slowly lower your upper body toward the floor until you feel your abdominal muscles engage. Should be at about a 45 degree angle toward the floor. Pulse back an inch and then back up an inch. 60 counts.
5. Lay your back flatly against the mat. Bend your knees. Arms behind your head with elbows straight out. Pretend that you have an orange between your chin and your chest and don’t pull at your neck. Crunch up, lifting your upper back from the mat. Squeeze and release. Be sure to pull your belly button toward the floor to support your lower back as you perform these moves.
6. Stay flat on your back lifting your legs to a 90 degree angle with bent knees. Arms behind your head elbows out. Crunch up until your opposite elbow touches your opposite knee. Alternate sides.
7. Lay flat on your back with your legs straight in the air. With your heels pointed toward the ceiling, slowly lift your hips off the floor and contract your lower abdominals. If you need the extra support you can place your hands beneath your buttock and lower back. Exhale as you lift up.
8. Laying flat on your back, bend your knees to a 90 degree angle. Hands behind the head. Crunch your upper body up while lifting your hips toward the ceiling. Do as many as you can in 60 seconds. Form is important so take your time.
9. Laying on your right side, place your right elbow directly beneath your shoulder. Do not lean into your shoulder, rather use your strength to stay as upright as possible. Slightly bend your knees. With your left arm placed behind your head, elbow pointed out, crunch up into your left side while raising your left knee to meet your left elbow. Again do as many as you can in 60 seconds.
10. Repeat exercise on your left side.
11. Lay flat on the mat. Press the bottoms of your feet together forming a “V” shape with your legs. With your arms behind your head crunch up. Don’t forget to exhale as you contract.
12. Sit up on the mat bending your knees to a 45 degree angle. Grab your opposite elbow with your opposite hand. Lean back until you feel your abdominals engage. Twist side to side. Try to have your elbow skim the floor as you twist.
It is vitally important to use your last minute to stretch out all those muscles that you just worked. Lay flat on the floor raising your arms above your head. Reach your hands and your toes to opposite sides of the room. Breathe and stretch. Arch your back and release. Pull you knees to your chest and give yourself a big hug. You did it!