A guest post from Fitness Blogger Ashley:
It’s nice to have a birthday and not actually feel like the age you are. From now on, I fully intend to not look or feel a day over 28…that was always my Nana’s plan and she did pretty well so I am just going to follow her lead.
A good way to start off my 28th year is to talk about the one part of the body that I think every client wants to work on no matter what age they are…their abs. The one fact that most people don’t want to come to terms with is that though it is important to strengthen your low back and abdominal muscles, a lot of the look and feel of them come from good nutrition and overall aerobic activity. No one gets a six pack eating processed junk foods and sitting on the couch every day…obviously.
Strengthening your core helps stabilize your torso as well as helps reduce pain in your low back and hips. I have started to incorporate more core, hamstring and glute exercises into my workouts to prevent these problems from becoming a constant issue. My low back and hips tend to feel tight and for lack of a better word, tweeked at times, though since I’ve started focusing more on prevention, I feel much better and you would too if you have the same aches and pains.
So I have picked out of a few of my favorite abdominal exercises that not only work your abs but also work your hip flexors. Hip flexor strength is important for runners and athletes. The stronger the glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors are the faster they will be. They also help prevent hamstring injuries by acting as a brake when large amounts of force are exerted to the hamstring.
The four exercises I chose are all starting by lying on your back.
Push your feet straight out from your body. The closer you are able to slide your feet to the ground, the more difficult the exercise will be. If you need to modify the movement, just push your feet away from your chest higher so you’re farther away from the ground. As you get stronger gradually let your legs get closer to the ground.
2. Leg Raise: Place your hands underneath your glutes just like you did for the heel slide exercise. Bring both legs straight up in the air to make your body into a 90 degree angle. If you need a slight bend in your legs, that is just fine. Chances are your hamstrings are super tight if you can’t straighten out those legs so you better incorporate some stretching in while you’re already lying on your back.
Slowly lower your legs straight down to the ground without touching. You want make sure there is no stress on your low back so if you feel your back start to arch, that is a good place to bring your legs back up to make your 90 degree angle again.
3. Hip Raise: Place hands underneath glutes again. Lift both legs up perpendicular with your body. The motion is going to be small when starting out but what you’re trying to do is lift your hips up off the mat pushing your feet straight up towards the ceiling. Control your hips on the way back down to your mat. This exercise will work those low abdominal muscles. A way to modify this would be to have bent knees instead of straight legs. Bring your knees into your chest and then simply lift your hips off the mat and back down.
4. Bicycles: Hands can protect your neck for this exercise. What you want to keep in mind is you never want to pull on your neck. You want to think about lifting your shoulders off the mat. Your hands are just there as a guide so a good rule of thumb is pretend you have a tennis ball between your chin and your chest. Keep that space there to allow your to keep your shoulders back and in a good posture position. One knee is going to come in towards your chest while the other leg is going to straighten out completely. With your upper body you are going to meet your knee coming into your chest with the opposite side elbow and then switch sides without putting your feet on the ground. This twisting motion will engage those oblique or side abdominals as well as hip flexors as you extend away from your body.
Do two sets of 15 repetitions for each exercise and feel the hurt so good burn. These are great pairings because you can do one right after the other without really have to change positions. Abdominal strength along with anything fitness related is all about consistency. The more you do these exercises, the stronger you’ll feel and the faster you’ll see results. Have fun and make sure to eat lots of organic veggies and fruits to help the six pack process.
Always consult a doctor before starting a new exercise routine.