Many choose to target the abdominal muscles in workout routines in the hope of gaining that ‘six-pack’ image. There are, however, many benefits of ab workouts beyond the physical toning on the surface. Ab workouts aid some fundamental bodily functions including posture, balance and can also reduce back pain. The best thing about these exercises is the fact you can do them anywhere as there is no equipment required!
Vertical Leg Raise
Begin flat on your back on some sort of yoga or exercise mat, lift your legs and bend your knees but keep your toes pointed so you resemble a foetus position. Stretch out your legs until they’re as straight as you can make them without coming into contact with the ground. Repeat this process for as many reps as you choose.
A little tip: Keep your eyes fixed directly on the ceiling above and hold your back as close to the floor as possible – this relieves any potential strain on your neck and spine.
You’ll need a chair for this particular exercise. Sit down upright and place your hands firmly on either side of the seat, raise your legs and push yourself upwards with your arms and hold for about 12 – 20 seconds and lower yourself back to your seated position. Be sure you’re situated in an environment with a flat surface and a relatively soft floor to avoid any accidents.
Opposite Arm and Leg Raise Balance
This is a particularly tough exercise but an incredibly rewarding one! On your hands and knees begin to slowly stretch out your leg and opposite arm (i.e. right leg and left arm) until both limbs are as straight as possible, aim to hold it for 20 – 30 seconds. This is a tough one so be sure to warm up and practise moving your limbs individually before shifting up a gear to the real thing. This aids your abs mainly but also works on your shoulders, hamstrings and glutes too!
The Plank (side plank)
The plank can be performed in several variations. The traditional plank can carried out by supporting your body weight on your forearms in a position similar to a press-up – hold your legs a hip-width apart and hold for 30 – 60 seconds. You can up this duration as your abdominal muscles develop.
You can also try out a side plank which follows the same procedure as the traditional plank but instead of using both arms you use one forearm. Switch between your left and right. This version targets a wider range of muscles than the traditional plank expanding to the hamstrings and upper thigh.
This is a fantastic exercise to add to your routine so you can push yourself a little bit further. Lie on your back, stretch out your legs and retain a slight bend in the knees then raise your alternate legs up and down in a scissor-like movement being sure your back is flat against the mat.
If you enjoyed this, you'll enjoy the rest of our fitness tips such as An Introduction to Compound Lifts and The Benefits of Group Training & Boot Camps. Try out our Nakd Protein Crunch Bars for a perfect accomplice to your exercise routine which you can enjoy on-the-go!