In addition to running, I try and do some sort of core/muscle work with each of my workouts. When I’m at the gym cross training I do a more intense muscle workout using the machines and weights and balls, but this little home workout is something I started using last spring. It takes about fifteen minutes (if you go non-stop), and must be worked up to, but if repeated multiple times week it gives some pretty great results. I find it to be so effective because it manages to reach both upper and lower abs, as well as the sides.
I recommend, especially for those who are just starting out, to stretch between every one or two ab exercises. The stretch I most recommend is the cobra stretch, where one lays with hips and legs on the floor while pushing the upper body straight up, palms flat on the floor in front of the hips, arms straight.
When I’m looking to make this workout harder, specifically when I’m at the gym with access to equipment, I’ll make the following adaptations:
For leg-lifts or butt-ups place a rubber ball or 2.5 – 5 pound weight between the feet.
For suitcases place a 5 – 10 pound medicine ball between the knees.
For any of the crunches hold a 5 pound weight against the chest for added resistance.
Lay flat on your back with hands under your butt, by your sides, or holding the matt above your head. Raise your legs straight up so they make a 90-degree angle with the floor. Slowly lower your legs together to the floor, (either tap your heels lightly on the floor or hover them an inch above) then raise them back up to the starting position. Repeat.
Lay flat on your back with your hands under your butt or by your sides and legs at a 90-degree angle with the floor. Lift your butt off of the ground, pushing your legs straight up, then lower back to the ground. Repeat.
Lay flat on your back with your legs at a 90-degree angle with the floor and toes flexed. Reach your hands up towards your toes lifting your shoulders off of the floor. Lower back down and repeat.
60 side crunches
Lay on your back with your feet flat on the ground, knees bent, and arms bent with hands behind your head. Tip your knees as far as they can go to one side. Your feet should come up off of the floor and the thigh of which side you’re tilting should rest on the ground. Crunch up straight towards your hip. Switch sides after 30 reps.
Lay flat on your back with your legs stretched out straight on the ground and arms flat on the ground above your head. Simultaneously lift your arms and legs until your body makes a V shape, balancing on your butt. Your arms can either reach up towards your toes or reach out straight from your shoulders, parallel to the floor. Lower down and repeat.
Lay on your back, feet on the ground, knees bent, arms bent with hands behind your head. Clench your abs and lift your knees and elbows until they touch. Lower back down and repeat.
100 different level crunches
Lay on your back, feet on the ground, knees bent, arms bent, with hands behind head. Crunch towards your knees, lifting your shoulders partly off of the floor. Do 30 crunches in this position. Then lift your knees towards your chest. Your thighs should make a 90-degree angle with the floor, and your calves should make a 90-degree angle with your thighs. Do 35 crunches in this position. Now you’re almost there. Straighten your legs so they make a 90-degree angle with the floor. Do 35 crunches in this position.
I don’t really know how to explain this one, so 55 – 1:10 of this video shows it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1PCW2xubGo If you’re looking for more of a challenge, don’t put your hands down, and if you’re looking for less of a challenge, place your hands behind you, fingertips facing forward.
10-20 Assorted back exercises
When strengthening your abs it is essential to also strengthen your lower back. Your lower back is part of your core and core strength helps with balance and stability. While doing a bunch of ab exercises can make your stomach look nice, strengthening the entire core helps with enhancing athletic performance.
(Feel free to slip in any of these between the core exercises)
Lay flat on your stomach with arms stretched out straight above your head. Lift your chest and arms off of the floor as high as you can, leaving your legs on the ground, hold for a second, then lower to the floor and repeat 10-20 times
Lay flat on your stomach with arms stretched out straight above your head. Lift your arms and chest off of the floor while simultaneously lifting your legs, hold for a second, then lower to the floor and repeat 10-20 times.
Lay flat on the ground with one arm stretched straight above your head and the other bent with the chin resting on your fist. Lift the stretched out arm at the same time as the opposite leg. Lift and lower 10-20 times then switch sides and repeat.