Abs, abs, abs… all over social media I see umpteen million ways to get the abs of your dreams… “Just do this routine of 5 easy exercises,” they say, “and by bikini season you’ll have that 6-pack you’ve been waiting for all your life!”
Except “they” forgot to tell you that no matter how great your 6-pack is, no one will see it if your body fat percentage is higher than about 18% for women, 14% for men. Um, whoops…
So let’s get another motivation for working our abs, shall we? Just sayin’, but the amount of effort that goes into achieving (and maintaining!!) those low body fat percent numbers… well, that’s another blog post altogether. And it becomes harder with each succeeding birthday. Speaking of which, the older I get, the more I consider fitness and strength as a way to keep me independent into my later years. Like, even if I can’t do a handstand for my grandchildren (oh but I HOPE I still can!!!) I at least don’t want 3 of them to have to band together to pull me up off the floor after I try. Get it?
Ok, so here’s a little ab workout that won’t guarantee you a visible 6-pack, but I do promise it will strengthen not only the front of your abdominals, but also your entire core- yes, all those muscles that wrap around your midsection and protect you from tweaking your back when you twist around and all that nonsense. These exercises are not necessarily easy, but they are effective, and if you keep doing them, you’ll get better! And stronger. And fitter.
And you won’t have anyone pulling you up off the floor… should you happen to be down there…
Ready? Here we go… Set your egg timer for 5 minutes, and do as many rounds of this workout as possible in that amount of time. You should be able to get through it maybe twice, but let me know!
Straight Leg Crunches: keeping your legs straight (this engages your lower abs), lift your shoulder blades off the ground towards your legs. Keep your elbows fairly wide. Do 25 reps.
Turkish Get-Ups: start in a standing position with one arm raised above your head. Sit down on your mat, using your lower hand to support you. Lie all the way back, still keeping your arm over your head. Then, stand back up, still keeping your arm over your head (try not to use it for momentum.) Do 5 with one arm up, then switch arms and do 5 with the other arm up.
Flutter Kick: lie on your back with your shoulder blades off the ground, hands by your sides. Lift your feet up about 12-15 inches off your mat, then flutter them up and down with a small motion. (The faster you flutter, the harder it is, FYI.) Go for 45 seconds.
Reaching Sit-ups: start in a sitting up position, back super straight, arms straight over your head, reaching for the sky (or the ceiling, ha.) Lie all the way back, arms still over your head. Then, sit up, arms still over your head… yeah, this is the hard part. Try not to throw your arms forward for momentum, but it’s the natural thing to do, so don’t feel bad about it. Also, if your low back gives your trouble, skip this one for now until it’s stronger. IF you do these, do 15 reps, finishing with a good reach towards the sky with each rep.
Tuck-ups: start in a sitting position, knees bent and hands on the mat slightly behind you. Extend your feet forward and lie back, then sit back up, using your hands for support. Try to keep your knees squeezed together.
Alternate (harder) position: keep your arms off the mat, balancing yourself on your rear. Have fun with that! In either position, do 25 reps.
Side Plank: balance yourself on the side of your foot and your elbow, legs stacked on top of each other. Keep your hand on your hip (or on the mat for support.) Hold in this position, or try the alternate (harder) positions: arm raised straight up, or with arm raised and leg raised (star position.) In any position, hold each side for 30 seconds, then switch sides and hold the other side for 30 seconds.